While I can't speak for all stamp pads (since it is specific to manufactorer standards), I can speak for the Ranger Distress Pads.
I recently took a class with Tim Holtz and he gave a demonstration on the mystery of how much ink to use and technique for refilling your Distress Inks.
First it is important to understand the ink pads themselves. Dye based ink pads are made of felt that is compressed and then laminated with a fabric topper. The fabric keeps the felt together. The felt helps to "suspend" ink. Think of a sponge you fill it with water and it appears dry until you press it and the water bubbles to the top. This is exactly how the ink pads work. The ink is suspended in the pad until the stamp presses it and the ink floats to the top and is applied to the surface of your stamp. With that said - the Ink will not absorb into the pad without the pad being pressed.
Here are the simple steps:
Verify that you are using the correct ink for the right pad (you laugh that I say this, but my walnut ink lid was on my tea die pad and let's just say I now have 2 walnut pads).
Second the Ranger Reinker bottles are designed SO THAT THE DROPPER holds the perfect amount of ink needed to reink 1 pad. Fill the dropper with ink and apply all over the top of the pad as demonstrated below...
Next - Use an old gift card/credit card and scrape the ink into the pad. You need to apply pressure, and move down the pad, then across the pad until all the ink is absorbed. This may take a few minutes and seem hopeless at first!
This is what your pad will look like when all the ink is absorbed. Notice there are a few drops of ink around the lid?
Simply wipe around the perimeter of the pad with a baby wipe or moist paper towel. Return the lid to the top. Your ink pad is now re-inked. Tim suggests heavy used pads be re-inked every six months to a year.
One other helpful hint:
There is a myth that ink pads should be stored face down, so that the ink flows to the top of the pad rather than the bottom. Since we learned at the beginning of this blog that the ink is suspended inside the pad - we know this myth to be false. You may store your inks in any direction you like for the type of storage system you have.
Thanks for stopping in today - hope this helps!