Finding the right ink cartridge for your printer can be quite a hustle. You might find an ink cartridge which is incompatible with your printer. In as much as printers are concerned, there are two terms that should be distinguished and these are ink cartridge and toner cartridge. In layman’s terms, ink cartridges contain ink which works in inkjet printers and toner cartridge is in a powder form and works in LaserJet printers.


A bit about printer inks

Printer ink contains quite a bit of numerous chemicals. The 4 main components are coloring substances, binders, solvents and excipients. Coloring substances used are usually pigments, dyes or lakes. Binders are the adhesives that determine the printing properties of an ink. They wet the pigments and dyes which facilitates the dispersion of its particles. Solvents are used to dissolve the binder and mix it with other components. Then lastly excipients, basically used as dispersion additives for water-borne inks.

Printer inks contain other additives in small quantities. Dispersants that reduce the thickness and makes it flow better and resins which are basically adhesives to the paper. There are actually many more components that include humectants, biocides, defoamers, bacteriostats. pH modifiers, etc..

How to choose an ink cartridge for your printer

All ink cartridges come with numbers imbedded on them and these numbers are important because they help you identify which printers the specific cartridge is compatible with. Sometimes different numbered cartridges might fit in a printer but if the cartridge is incompatible with the cartridge you usually get an error message written “inks not recognized. Even if the cartridges look identical, you should not use then on an incompatible printer because each chip on the cartridge is programmed to allow inks to only work with certain printers.

It is also possible to search for cartridge’s using the printer’s model number or the printer series. One website that makes it a whole lot easier is Comp and Save. This website makes things easier because you can search for the cartridges in any brand you might want by only using the printer series or printer model.


Which is the best cartridge brand

In as much as I have had the exposure to printers and their inks, I can’t say for sure which one is the best brand but there are a couple of brands that have inks which are very reliable. Some unreliable ink cartridges usually tend to have problems in the long run, some which may include color mixing/cross contamination, leaky cartridges, printing only white pages without ink.


Know this about printer inks

At times brands do not really matter when it comes to drying up of inks. If an ink cartridge is not often used, there are high chances that the ink cartridges will be clogged or dried up over time. It is recommended to use the printer maybe once a week so that the cartridge is used a bit and hence not drying up on it’s own. Most seal-packed printer cartridges have a shelf life ranging from 24 to 36 months, depending on the brand. If you’re wondering whether it’s possible to refill an empty cartridge then “Yes”, most ink cartridges can be refilled but I wouldn’t recommend refilling ink into a dried up cartridge or one which has expired.

Not sure where to buy the cartridges?

I personally recommend Comp and Save. There are quite a number of online stores that sell cartridges and printer inks but I prefer Comp and Save as it is quite reliable on and it even offers nice deals and discounts depending on the quantity of purchases. It even includes free shipping for purchases over $50.



5 Responses

  1. I learned a lot about what the ink inside ink cartridges is made of. It was funny when you mentioned that ink cartridges looking alike will not work if the numbers are different. I have experienced this phenomenon. 

    Most printer companies also make their own cartridges. For a good reason. They sell the printers cheaply and recoup their expenses on the ink cartridges. We use HP orinters. Therefore we use HP ink cartridges. 



  2. Hello!! I enjoyed reading this post, very informative! Didn’t realize they were made up of so many different things!!  More goes into the process than many think, not just a box of ink! 

    You mentioned many things I’ve encountered myself, like using a seemingly identical generic brand of ink, only to find that it is incompatible with my printer! Very frustrating for sure. 

    Question, and please direct me to a post you’ve written if you have one explaining this already, can you tell me why printers that are only used to print black ink documents, also quickly drain the color cartridges? I have encouraged my employer to buy black ink only printers, in hopes it will not only cut down on the cost of printer ink purchases but also avoid the frustration of being unable to print a black ink only document because it’s low on a colored ink!

    Looking forward to the next read!! 

    • Well at the moment I don’t have a post about this but I believe you’ve given me an idea for a new post. Well back to your question this might actually be due to a couple of reasons some printers will pull a bit of ink from the color cartridges when you are printing solely in black, the machine will automatically mix all the colors to produce a blank color. Another reason is that it’s possible you are printing high density documents frequently. High density documents tend to use color inks a lot and you’d see that your ink quickly runs out.

  3. One thing I hate about ink based printers is the fact that ink cartridges nowadays can cost even more than the printer itself. I know that manufacturers make most of their profit from this but it is crazy how expensive these replaceable parts have become. What I do is to look for a printer that offer separate color cartridges so this way you can change only the one that is needed. Avoid printers that use a single cartridge because if one color finishes then the whole cartridge need change which means you throw the rest of the colors also.

    • I’ve got to say you sure are a pro at printer ink cartridges. Printers that use a single cartridges have that major disadvantage. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.