Last month when I cleaned out my office supply cabinet I found three 12-packs of retractable ballpoint pens, the remainders of a carton I bought a couple of years ago. I used some of the pens at work, and the rest had gotten buried and forgotten.
I brought one of the packs upstairs and emptied the pens into the holder on my desk. They looked nice; however, every time I tried to use one they wouldn't write. My rule is that a pen gets one chance to work before it gets tossed, but these pens were choice. I wondered if I could do something to get them to work. A quick Google search led me to the wikiHow article How to Restart a Dry Ball Point Pen, which had some great suggestions. I decided to give some of them a try over the course of the weekend.
First I attempted the obvious ideas. I shook the pen, tapped the tip against a hard surface, and scribbled vigorously on a piece of paper. Nothing.
Next, I took the ink cartridge out and blew into the end opposite the ballpoint, and rubbed the pen on the bottom of my rubber-soled tennis shoes. No luck.
Feeling frustrated, I rubbed the tip of a pen on an emery board, then ran some hot water into a bowl, removed the ink cartridge from several pens, and immersed them in the water. I soaked the tips in rubbing alcohol, and repeated the soaking process with hairspray. None of theses did the trick.
The easy solutions weren't working, so I tried a more complex one. I put the ink cartridges into a Ziploc bag and put the bag in a pot of boiling water for five minutes. Negative.
By this point I was getting pretty discouraged, so I passed on the more extreme ideas--heating up the ballpoint tip with the flame from a lighter, forcing a wire into the tube, and taking off the metal tip to push the ink down from the other end of the tube; these were too potentially messy for me.
I think I've just about exhausted all the options. It pains me to throw all the pens away, but do I have any other choice?