Calligraphy Tip: Prep for new nibs

In today’s post I want to discuss new calligraphy nibs. Manufacturers add an oil or wax coating on each nib to protect the nib from rust. When you buy new nibs its important to remove this coating to ensure that the nib will perform properly. If you don’t remove the coating, the ink will not stay on nib or bead on the nib and prevent ink from flowing. I would actually suggest trying to use new nibs without removing the coating just so you can see the difference.

There are many ways to prep new nibs and below I am going to list a few methods:

The Potato

I first heard about the potato method from Lindsay at the Postmans Knock and I absolutely love this method. I usually order multiple nibs at the time and then buy one potato to use for all of them. To use the potato, gently insert the nib, at an angle to prevent the tines from being damaged, into the potato. Do not push the nib in too far, just past the vent hole is good. Wait 12-15 minutes and then gently pull out each nib. Gently swish each nib in water, dry completely and your nib is ready to use.


I really like the windex method because everyone has windex lying around at home. Place the new nibs on a paper towel, spray with windex and wait 12-15 minutes. Then rinse the nib with water and make sure to dry the nib completely as storing them wet can cause rust.

The two methods I noted above are my favorite methods and I made you a video of me prepping my nibs with both methods.


Many people like to use saliva to prep their nibs. Some people will either put nibs directly in their mouth or spit into the paper towel and then wipe the nibs clean. I have never used this method but I am sure it will work in a pinch!

Rubbing Alcohol

I have used alcohol pads to wipe nibs but I did not really like the results. It takes multiple pads to get the manufacturer coating off and I don’t find this an effective method.


Many people use toothpaste to gently clean the nib. You can use a Q-tip or a small jewlery brush to rub the nib with toothpaste and then rinse off.


Another way to get the coating off is to run the nib QUICKLY (2-3 seconds) through an open flame. While I am sure this method will work, I am afraid to use this method as I don’t want to ruin my nibs.

I hope you enjoyed this informational post about prepping calligraphy nibs. Which method is your favorite?