A thermal ink jet recording apparatus includes at least a substrate having a gap disposed over an ink reservoir on a base in communication with an ink source. A film circuit of electrodes and heating elements is formed on each substrate. A nozzle plate covering the substrates has a lower step portion and a upper step portion. The upper step portion includes nozzles substantially directly above and corresponding to the plurality of heating elements. Ink which is used for this apparatus includes ionic or non-ionic surface active agents for increasing permeability of the ink on a recording medium.