Gel pens are expensive and often stop working or never work at all. Is there a good way to revive gel pens that have lots of ink but refuse to write? I have tried heat, saliva, gravity, and the age old method of madly scribbling all over paper for a minute or two.


5 Answers 5


You want both heat and humidity to get the ball rolling again.

So, if just breathing on it hasn't worked, try holding the nib in steam from a boiling kettle for a few seconds. The warm water condensing on the nib can restart the flow of ink.

  • Probably the simplest yet most effective method that would apply to most pens. +1
    – Sachin
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 6:43
  • can't believe this worked !!!... i've been suffering with my pens for too long
    – SoliQuiD
    Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 8:49

Some pens have a clearly visible ventilation hole. I have had success blowing into this hole while scribbling. Choose your spectators carefully.

  • 2
    I couldn't help but laugh...
    – L.B.
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 18:00
  • This worked for me! I had to unscrew the pen to get at the ventilation hole. (On the downside, I now probably need to ask a question about reassembling a spring-loaded pen...)
    – 1006a
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 20:11

Usually, it is due to ink that gets dry and stuck at the tip, so the metal ball doesn't roll properly. Heat up the nib with fire (a lighter is the best way). Only heat the end, and not too much, it is just to make the stuck dry ink to "melt" a bit and allow the metal ball to roll again. If you heat much, you will roast the ink and it will get stuck forever.

  • thank you so much for this response. i was looking everywhere for the explanation why a pen would break completely after heating it with a lighter Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 9:49

Obvious way is keep shaking it and then scribbling on a page. If that doesn't work, try put the nib under a running water tap. Once you see the ink flowing, the pen should start working after letting it dry and further scribbling on a page.

Tip: When scribbling, use at least half of a scrap piece of paper and use long strides rather than short.


I have tried this and it worked for me.Gel pens have a long tube like structure commonly called the 'refill'.The tip of the tube is occupied by the nib.Many a times I have seen that the nib stops working as it gets easily damged.
This nib can be removed and only the plastic tube with ink is left.Note here,that the nib not just only mean the metallic part but also the plastic casing holding it.

Use nib of empty refill for replacement :- You can remove the nib of the non working gel pen you are talking about with your hands or by some sort of instruments by tilting it left and right and slowly pulling it up.It is better if you do it in a washbasin.Also remember to hold the tube horizontal,for the viscous ink wont flow away.Now take another empty refill,take out its nib in the same way and insert it in the desired refill.Before that,make sure to check the compatibility of the nib of this empty refill with the one you opened.

You can use alcohol as it is a good non polar solvent :- Alcohol is a good non polar solvent and you can easily dissolve ink in it.So, you can open the nib like I mentioned above,use a dropper and put 1-2 drops of alcohol on it from the tip where there is ink.Shake the refill after closing the nib.If the ink were clogged,it would flow smoothly now.

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