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Why Do Ballpoint Pens Stop Working?

why do ballpoint pens stop working

Why do ballpoint pens stop working even if they clearly still have ink in them? This usually happens with cheap ballpoint pens. They typically stop writing even when you only just used a bit of ink.

Why do you need to know the reasons why your pen suddenly stops working? For one thing, it will give you a clue how to fix the problem. If you can fix your non-writing pen, you can save quite a lot of money.

This article will enumerate and discuss some of the most common reasons why your pen would suddenly stop writing even when it still has ink.

Reasons Why Ballpoint Pens Stop Working

There are several explanations as to why many ballpoint pens would suddenly stop working even when there is still a lot of ink in the chamber. Here are a few of them:

The Ink Clogged the Tip

 ink clogged tip

In most cheap ballpoint pens, the ink would sometimes turn into gunk while still in the tube. When a large enough clump reaches the ballpoint tip, it will get lodged in it and prevent the ink from flowing through. You can usually tell if this is the case with your pen if the tip would start getting scratchy and then stop writing shortly after.

Most ballpoint pens use oil-based ink, which tends to clog up quite often. If you think this is what happened to your ballpoint pen, you can get it going again by lighting a candle and gently heating the tip. This will melt up the clogged and dried ink and get it flowing again.

The Ink is not Reaching the Tip

There are two main reasons why the ink would not reach the tip of the pen. The first is that there is an air bubble that got into the ink reservoir and when it reached the ballpoint tip, it caused it to clog.

The other reason why this happens is that you stored your pen with the tip pointing upward. This causes gravity to pull the ink down and eventually, out of the reservoir if you leave it long enough.

If that is the case with your pen, there are several ways you can fix the problem. If the issue is a small air bubble, you can get the ink flowing again by dipping the tip in a little bit of oil and scribbling on a piece of paper. Repeat dipping and scribbling until the pen starts writing again.

On the other hand, if the ink has been pulled away from the tip by quite a significant amount, there is nothing else you can do other than store it with the tip pointing down and waiting.

The Ball is Stuck

the ball is stuck

If you accidentally drop your pen and it falls on its tip, odds are that the tiny metal ball in the ballpoint got dislodged and is now stuck. You can tell if this is what happens when the pen will not write anymore and the tip feels like it is scratching the paper.

This means that the small ball is pushed into the ballpoint, and it could no longer roll and apply the ink from the reservoir. Unfortunately, if this is what happened to your pen there is no saving it anymore. You will need to use specialized tools to dislodge the ball and get it to write again, and this is too much work for a disposable ballpoint pen.

How to Prevent Your Pen from Drying?

store your pens properly

If you want to make your ballpoint pens last longer, you should heed the following tips:

  • Store your pens properly – Even though the ink of the ballpoint pens seems so thick that it does not flow, it can still be pulled out of the reservoir by gravity. This means that you need to store your ballpoint pens with the tips pointing down. This will keep the ink in contact with the ballpoint.
  • Keep the cap on when not in use – The cap will protect the ballpoint from getting damaged by accidental drops. The cap would keep the tip from hitting the floor. In addition, the cap can also keep the ballpoint tip from drying up and causing the ink to gunk up inside the pen.


Why do ballpoint pens stop working? There are several reasons why your ballpoint pen would suddenly stop writing. In some cases, you might be able to get it to write again. Disposable ballpens are notorious for suddenly stopping working. The reason is that the ink used is a bit thicker and prone to clumping up and jamming the ballpoint.

However, just because disposable pens are cheap, that does not mean you do not need to take care of them. If you do not like the idea of wasting money on disposable pens, you should take better care of them. You should make it a goal to use every pen that you have until they are completely empty.