Preparing new nibs

New dip pen nibs can be difficult to use, this is due to the manufacturer applying a protective oil or other finish to protect the nib during storage.

Since oils and calligraphy inks do not mix easily, trying to use a new nib before it is cleaned will give mixed results in your finished product due to the ink forming blobs on your nib, which will then interfere with the ink flow.

There are many methods on how to clean the nib from burning the nib to the use of chemicals, below is a list of some methods I have found and I suppose there are many more.


Using a potatoe

First —– Push the nib gently but firmly about halfway into the potatoe.

Second – Leave the nib in potatoe for a maximum of 15 minutes (any longer will cause your nib to rust).

Third —–Remove nib and rinse off using water.

Fourth — Gently dry nib thourourly (I use a paper towel).


Using dish detergent

First —– Dip a soft toothbrush in water.

Second – Add some dish detergent to the brush.

Third —- Scub both the top and bottom of the nib (about 30 sec).

Fourth — Rinse the nib off using water.

Fifth —– Gently dry nib thourorly (I use a paper towel).


Using toothpaste

First —– Moisten toothbrush.

Second – Add a little toothpaste to the brush

Third —- Scub both the top and bottom of the nib.

Fourth — Rinse the nib off using water.

Fifth —– Gently dry nib thourourly (I use a paper towel).


Using nail polish remover

First —– Pour a little of the liquid onto a lid.

Second – Use a Q-tip to swab off the top and bottom of the nib.

                NOTE:  Care is required in order to avoid getting cotton fibers caught in the tines of the nib.

                                 Since the nail polish remover evaporates quickly there is no need to dry the nib.


Using Brasso

First —- Using a cotton swab apply the Brasso to the top and bottom of the nib rubbing gently.

Second – Using a cotton swab dipped in either rubbing alcohol or window cleaner remove the dried Brasso from your nib.

             NOTE:   Since the use of brasso will polish your nib and is also useful for the removal of light rust

                              deposits/dried ink, you may need to use a fine sandpaper to roughen the surface a little.



There is a lot of information about burning new nibs using a candle or lighter to remove the protective film from nibs, the problem with this method is that the nibs are made from steel that has been hardend to give the necessary springness to the nib which allows for the thickness and thinness of your lines

By burning or overheating the nib you will change the temper of the metal which will lose some of the springness therefore affecting the thickness or thinness of the lines



When I first started Calligraphy I was as green as grass as to the preperation of my nibs, but through the help and advice from my local art store I was directed to the use of dish detergent, which has remained my method of choice, as for the others I have not tried but I see no reason why they would not work.