Revive a dead ballpoint pen with these 2 simple tricks

Whilst we would usually advocate stocking up on plenty of ballpoint pen refills to avoid this issue, these two simple tricks were so useful that we couldn't help but share them. In a nutshell, they will enable you to extend the life of your pen for that little bit longer and will hopefully get you out of some unfortunate binds!

Method 1 - the lighter technique

If your ballpoint pen refill is particularly new or hasn't be used that often, chances are that it isn't 'dead' at all, it's simply clogged up with some dry ink. Simply hold the flame from a cigarette lighter to the writing tip for a few seconds. This should melt the ink on the ball and with a bit of good fortune, the pen should come back to life. Should you not have a lighter around, boiling water will have the same effect.

Method 2 - the sole of your shoe

No, seriously, stay with me on this one. We've all tried to revive a pen by scribbling furiously on a piece of paper, right? Make that frustration a thing of the past by simply using the sole of your shoe (this is of course based on the assumption your shoes have rubber soles!). A combination of the increased friction and the pen's tip gripping more firmly to the rubber will quickly heat up the dried ink, ensuring your pen is ready to be used again.

And there we have it. Do you have any tips of your own to share? Please comment below.

8 thoughts on “Revive a dead ballpoint pen with these 2 simple tricks”

  • mandy cirencester
    Written by mandy cirencester on June 2, 2019

    Parker used to do an extra fine ball point refill, can you suggest a replacement refill?

    • Gemma Plumbridge
      Written by Gemma Plumbridge on July 1, 2019

      There's a brand called Monteverde whom make compatible refills for Parker ballpoint pens and I believe that you can find these in an extra fine 0.5mm needlepoint. Unfortunately we don't stock these, but I'm fairly sure you'll find them by searching online.

  • Mike Campbell
    Written by Mike Campbell on October 8, 2018

    I'm trying to get a fibre tip refill for a Parker pen.

    • Gemma Plumbridge
      Written by Gemma Plumbridge on October 30, 2018


      Unfortunately Parker fibre tip refills were discontinued many years ago. There is no suitable compatible refill for pens which used this now.

  • Ken Stokes
    Written by Ken Stokes on September 11, 2014

    please tell me if there should be a small spring at tip of Parker51 ballpoint pen. My refill is loose and unusable.

    • Paul Tomlinson

      Hi Ken, sorry for the late reply! We don't stock the 51 so we recommend contacting Parker directly for guidance on your pen. We can confirm, however, that most ballpoints are supposed to have a spring inside the tip, so if there is one missing from your pen, that would be the reason that it is unstable. Hope that's some help.

      • Lasane
        Written by Lasane on August 24, 2017

        the first method is really useful, i use the fire all the time well my ballpoint pen doesn't pull the ink out. However, i have read an article and saw another method is put the pen into the alcohol for 10-15 minutes.

        • Gemma Plumbridge
          Written by Gemma Plumbridge on August 24, 2017

          Thanks for the info Lasane. We're sure our other readers will find this very helpful!

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