Is Gel Pen Ink Toxic – Our Full Breakdown!

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Although the traditional, oil based ballpoint pen is still the most popular pen in the world, the popularity of gel pens is sky rocketing as more and more people make the switch. It also helps that the price of a decent gel pen set had drastically come down over the last few years while the performance and writing experience that gel pens offer has increased.

Due to more and more people starting to use gel pens, we have noticed more and more questions being asked from the community about them each month. One of the more frequently asked questions about gel pens that we constantly see is based around if gel pen ink is toxic or not. As we have noticed so many people asking this, we have decided to publish this dedicated article in the hope that we will be able to help any of our readers who are looking to start using gel pens.

Now, we see a number of slightly different questions about if gel pen ink is toxic or not so we will be answering each of them in a separate section of our article below. This should make it easier for our readers to find the relevant section of the article that they need to get the specific answer to your question and we have our table of contents below making it easy to navigate directly to the question you need help with.

Is Gel Pen Ink Toxic If Ingested?

The most commonly asked question that we see about gel pen ink time and time again is if the ink is toxic if it ends up getting ingested. This is due to so many coloring pen sets being based around gel ink and people letting their children color with them and then chew on them and potentially swallow some of the ink.

Although this will specifically depend on the pen that you are using, the vast majority of gel pens available for sale in the west will meet the rigorous health code standard for pen ink. This means that although the gel pen ink will have a slight toxicity to it due to it being ink, it will not be high enough to cause any issues with ink poisoning or any other toxic side effects.

Depending on the specific country that you are in, there are also specific regulations as to how much gel ink can be in the pens ink cylinder when purchased to ensure that any ingested gel pen ink will not have any effect on you. This should offer you some peace of mind when it comes to letting your children play and color with gel pens as it is inevitable that the majority of children will end up chewing on their gel pens at some point.

Is Gel Pen Ink Toxic If It Gets On Your Skin?

The next most common question that we see about gel pen ink is if it is toxic if it gets on your skin due to many children also enjoying coloring themselves in as well as their coloring books. Thankfully, gel pen ink is not toxic if it gets on your skin and there should be no major issues if your child decided to color their arm or hand in rather than their coloring book.

Due to gel pen ink being waterbased, it is much easier to wash off skin than the oil based ballpoint pen ink that is very popular too. This is why so many parents have made the switch over to letting their children color in their books with gel pens as it has a lower toxicity level than ballpoint pen ink and is much easier to wash off them if they do end up getting the ink on their skin too.

Is Gel Pen Ink Toxic For Stick And Poke Tattoos?

Although rare when compared to the two questions covered above, we have also noticed a number of people asking if it is safe to use gel pen ink for stick and poke tattoos. We would not recommend that you use gel pen ink for any stick and poke tattoo work and although it is unlikely that you will have any side effects due to the ink, actual stick and poke tattoo ink is intended for use in this way and is often cheaper than gel pens anyway.

Although some people have said that they have used gel pen ink as their ink source for a stick and poke tattoo we would not recommend it and would actively encourage our readers to avoid it. A tattoo should always be done by a trained professional in a clean area with clean tools but like we said, actual stick and poke tattoo ink is much cheaper than it used to be and will not cause any issues with toxicity.

What Is Gel Pen Ink Made Of?

One of the common follow up questions to any initial question about if gel pen ink is toxic or not is usually based around what gel pen ink is actually made up of. As we touched on above, gel pen ink is a waterbased ink that is made into a gel that suspends powder pigments in the gel until it is ready for use. This is why gel pen ink tends to give a much smoother writing experience while also providing you with vivid colors while also being waterproof and age resistance once dried.

As you can see, there is minimal ingredients in the gel ink that is used in gel pens to help keep its toxicity levels as low as possible. In addition to the actual ink formula and the regulations around ink toxicity levels, this ensures that gel pen ink is not toxic enough to cause any harmful side effects in a healthy human even if they inject it or draw on their skin with it.


That brings our article going over if gel pen ink is toxic or not and we have gone over the three most commonly asked questions that we see asked on a regular basis. Gel pen ink has a very low toxicity level so it is doubtful that you are going to be able to give yourself ink poisoning when using a gel pen and the majority of gel pens on the market are fine for children to use too.