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Reducing waste ink on Canon Printers

We’ve shared this recommendation for years now but never got around to creating an FAQ article on this so apologies for not sharing it sooner.

Note: This is not relevant to the G-series Megatank Canon models. Waste ink kits for many of these printers are available.

How to maximise printer life and reduce ink waste on Canon Inkjet printers

For the purposes of identifying this process, we’ll call this the “Single Set Primer” or “Full Set Swap” process

The process is specific to end-users who refill their cartridges and who have a way to manually reset their cartridges chips so this will not work for anyone who is using compatible single use or refillable cartridges with ARC (Auto Reset) Chips.

What you will need

  1. Two (or more) sets of cartridges (usually OEM) modified for refilling
  2. A compatible chip resetter
  3. All the usual tools, inks, etc… for refilling
  1. One set of cartridges installed in printer as normal
  2. Second (spare) set of cartridges that have been chip reset and refilled ready for use
  3. When one of the installed cartridges shows Empty (or low if you prefer) remove the entire set of installed cartridges and replace with your “ready to go” cartridge set
  4. Now reset then refill/top-up the cartridges you removed and prep for storage as your “ready” cartridge set
  5. Repeat steps 3 – 4 as indicated

The Rational/Reasons

“Normal” practice is to replace cartridges as they reach empty and usually this is one cartridge at a time. Each time you replace a cartridge your printer will run a priming routing which will waste a small amount of ink from all of the installed cartridges so if you have a Pro-100S, for example, you will be running this priming routine eight times before the entire cartridge set has been replaced.

Normal practise can even result in you changing out one cartridge, then another one, then another as the priming routine between each replacement, drains enough ink in the other cartridges to require more replacements… A sort of “staircase effect”. It’s incredibly wasteful and expensive.

Using the Single Set Primer approach will ensure you run the priming routine once, and then you will have to use all of the ink in at least one of the installed cartridges before you will need to replace anything and run the priming process again.

Let me reiterate that. Your printer will have to use up a WHOLE cartridge worth of ink before it will need anything to be replaced. So long as you keep following the “Single Set Primer” approach, of replacing the whole set of cartridges together, you will continue to get only one priming cycle and only waste around one eighth of the ink lost compared to the “normal” replacement routine.

Why doesn’t it work for ARC refillables or single use cartridges

Simple. You can’t control when ARC chips will reset due to their programming and usually they won’t reset until the cartridge reads empty on both chip and in the cartridge. Single use cartridges could potentially be reset but unless you refill them you will be running the risk of burning out the printhead when the ink really does run out.

Other Benefits

Aside from reducing the cost of your inks you also reduce the amount of waste ink reaching your printers waste pads which means you could be keeping your printer running for years longer than a “normal” cartridge replacement approach.

When To Start Using The Full Set Swap Approach?

If you’re just getting started with refilling and you still have a number of cartridges in your printer that contain OEM ink then you may be unsure if/when you want to start using the Full Set Swap (Single Set Primer) approach.

Our advice is to ignore the full set swap approach and just swap out cartridges individually, until you have reached a point where the cartridges have all run out individually or you want to be able to use the full set of refill inks sooner rather than later. The idea is that you don’t waste the expensive OEM inks unnecessarily.

Of course this does mean that while you’re replacing individual cartridges, your printer will be wasting more ink than would be ideal but at most you’ll only do this 9 times before you’ll convert to swapping complete sets so it’s not a major issue.


Some printers can differentiate between the pigment black and the dye ink banks while others split their cartridge banks into 2 sections which may allow them to localise priming to one group of cartridges. Verifying whether this is applicable would require a significant tear down of each printer and direct access to a waste ink system. Being generous and assuming this is how the priming system works, such localised priming may reduce the potential benefit of the Single Set Primer approach but even then the benefits would remain pretty significant.

Updated on 4 April 2022

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