.::. Background Information .::.
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>> Permanent Markers: General Information

What exactly makes permanent markers permanent? A marker is considered permanent if it either sticks to most surfaces, is water resistant, or uses dyes or pigments. Permanent markers contain three main ingredients: a colorant, a carrier, and a resin.

A colorant, usually dyes or pigments, is what gives markers their permanence, and, of course, their colour. A dye is usually a coloring material dissolved in water (or a solvent), making it a water soluble dye. On the other hand, a pigment is an insoluble colouring matter. Pigments are also finely ground solid materials and the amount as well as the nature determines its colour.

Solvents are used as the carrier in permanent markers. Before the nineties, most markers were made out of a foul smelling hydrocarbon organic chemicals, like xylene. Although these chemicals provide a desirable permanancy, they are highly toxic. Today, xylene may be used in some markers (e.g. Sharpie King Size), but most markers are now replaced with an alcohol solvent. Alcohol, such as ethanol or isopropanol, is more environmentally friendly and even smells better. It also evaporates quickly, allowing permanent markers to dry faster.

The last component, resin, is a polymer that promotes adhesion. This also adds to the permanence of markers. The resin sticks like glue to most of the surfaces the marker is written on causing the pigment to attach to surfaces. As a result, everyone can easily write smoothly and clearly on both rough and smooth surfaces.