Graph compares price of inkjet ink to other liquids


ReflectionOf.Me posted a graph that shows how much HP printer ink costs compared to human blood, vodka, crude oil and other precious liquids.


  1. Be fair guys. Genuine HP Black Ink #45 is made by washing Karl Rove’s soul in the tears of unicorns, for maximum opacity and colorfastness. Cheap 3rd party cartridges just aren’t the same.

  2. A significant amount of the cost of a cartridge is the delivery mechanism, ie, the jets themselves, which are replaced along with the ink. You can’t just take the cost of a cartridge and apply 100% of the cost to the ink it contains. That’s like taking the cost of a car and applying 100% of the cost to the fluid it contains. Then magically oil and gasoline become the most precious fluids on earth!

    Having said that, ink cartridges are ridiculously overpriced. I’ve not owned an ink jet printer in years for that very reason.

  3. Ah, but AB- is the rarest blood type, composing only about 0.5% of the human blood in the world. Surely this would elevate the cost….

  4. Ignoring for a moment the fact that this image is like 12 years old, this chart is not exactly scientific. In addition to what dculberson (#7) says, I’m curious how the value of blood is calculated. What brand of vodka is used, Popov? etc.

    1. It’s mostly the payoffs to the families of the poor lost squid-farmers. They lose two or three a week to those terrible non-euclidean beasts from out of space and time.

      They tried to make a reality show about it on the Discovery Channel, but everyone who watched the pilot went insane.

      On a less lovecraftian note, if you look around you can find continuous ink systems for some printers that cuts the price of ink down into

  5. Hospitals put a price on blood: if you are even given blood while in a hospital, it should show up on your bill.

    1. “Hospitals put a price on blood: if you are even given blood while in a hospital, it should show up on your bill.”

      In civilized countries blood is always free to the person that needs it.

  6. Why do people think it’s so clever to compare the price of things where the only thing they have in common is that they’re liquids? What sense does that make? Why shouldn’t the price of liquids vary widely based on what the actual liquid is? And why doesn’t anyone do this with solids? No one is upset that a bad of gold is more expensive than a bar of chocolate.

    Having said all that, printer ink is way to expensive.

    1. i like the gold to chocolate bar analogy. i would assume most of the people here either have common sense or basic knowledge of capitalism resulting in their acceptance of various liquid prices. interestingly, i was at first shocked at how comparatively cheap bottled water was as i heard once it was more expensive than jet fuel per ounce. just another example of how important a frame of reference is.

  7. The toner cartridge Cistercians are very cool. I’ve been watching their operation expand for years now. This amuses me, since their order has a long history of being friendly to technology and commerce.

  8. I’m a graphic designer/printer and I can’t stand desktop printers. My one at home is like an enemy to me and I try to use it as little as possible. The cost of the ink is only the beginning. These things are made out of PLASTIC! Tiny plastic cogs and gears!

    The more trouble it gives me the more I love my 2300 lb hunks of cast iron and steel at work. And black in for them costs.. wait for it.. $10 for a 1 lb can. Can’t translate that into volume, as, well, ‘real’ ink just isn’t measured that way.

  9. These kind of comparisons are rather silly. Don’t compare inkjet ink to blood. Compare it to the cost of running a darkroom, which was what we used to have to do to print photographs.

  10. This chart also shows why I never donate blood anymore. Gives us something for free so we can sell it to a person who is dying.

  11. … aw hell, the cat jumped on the mouse while editing –

    cut the price of ink down into the ‘fine wine’ area, but they can be a pain to maintain.

  12. This graph has been around for years, and by now the pricing is probably really off. Bottled water, if you assume a price of $1.50 for a 20-oz bottle in the store, comes to $0.02 / mL, so that hasn’t really changed, but crude oil is now up to about $0.32 / mL (assuming $80/barrel and roughly 209 L per barrel).

    My problem with it isn’t the pricing per mL, but rather the fact that these fluids all have different rates of consumption, which is just as important as price per unit volume.

    For example, I use bottled water by the L, and it typically lasts an hour or so. My car uses a crude oil derivative (gasoline) by the gallon, and I get about two weeks’ worth of driving on a full tank (roughly 60 L). By contrast, my ink cartridge contains a few mL of ink, but it lasts months at the rate I print. Sure, if I was still in college it might not last as long, but that’s the way it goes.

    1. My car uses imperial gallons, but I put them in from a pump that packages them in litres. My car’s fuel tank incorporates an automatic litres/gallons convertor, and, with a little sound of sawing, hammering and shaving, converts every four point five-four litres into a gallon. Unused part-litres are stored in a metric annex of the tank, and returned into the converter on the next fill.
      What I’d like to know is why the oil industry persists in charging us for barrels when we know they’re using pipelines and tankers to move the stuff areound, resulting in the bankruptcy of barrel-investors. I’m so happy that grandpa rejigged the barrel-production -plant way-back to make micro barrels for HP. phew! otherwise I’d have to live along with the poor people, who don’t have multi-engined jets.

  13. I’m still using a bubble jet printer that has to be at least 14 years old (Cannon BJ-200). I have a couple of cigar boxes filled with spare parts that I collected when people were tossing these things in the garbage years ago, and have repaired it so many times I can’t count. I print very little, my daily crossword and my end of month expense sheet, and some other misc. stuff, so it does the job. But last month I went to but an new cartridge and it cost me $38.00! Seems to me the last time I bought one (3 months or so ago) it was under $25. I’m asking myself ‘do I really need a home printer’? I’m thinking no. Time to start doing my crosswords on the computer. I just hope that old printer lasts until the ink runs out.

  14. Hate printers. I let the color tanks go dry in my HP all-in-one and print in monochrome only. I manually refill the black tank until it won’t work any more. Amazingly, once when I had a duff print cartridge, the thing wouldn’t scan a document until I replaced the cart with a good one. Printing is irrelevant to scanning but HP made me buy ink before I could scan.
    THAT pissed me off.

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