For a lot of professionals who use permanent markers or “Sharpie,” one of the biggest questions is how this thing works. Why are these permanent markers staying permanently? The science behind this technological marvel, usually overlooked, involves three main ingredients: resin, carrier, and colorant. With the right combinations, these ingredients make “Sharpie” or permanent marker work.

Definition

While its definition sounds pretty obvious, it is not. Usually, these markers need to meet two qualifications to be considered as a permanent marker: it needs to use pigments or dyes, and it needs to adhere to all surfaces, as well as water-resistant.

According to experts, writing using this device can be expected to last at least three to four months, and several years at most. Although people might use this every day, there is a big chance that people are hard-pressed to explain how it works. This device contains common ingredients that make up regular markers.

These components dictate how the device interact to deliver a clean and reliable line. Always remember that its lasting effect is usually a misnomer as most devices labeled as everlasting are not light-fast unless it is marked explicitly by manufacturers as archival markers.

How inks are made? Check out this site for more info.

What do these things consist of?

These pens are hallowed plastic tubes that are airtight, with a single opening at its tip. These tubes encase a long stick of sponge-like and porous material, which sticks slightly out of its opening (also called the tip). The absorbent material inside is saturated with permanent ink as it drains or evaporates from the exposed tip. Its siphoning effect will draw the fluid from the inside, out of its tip. The ink is composed of three ingredients: resin, solvent, and colorant.

Colorant

Colorants are pigments or dyes that give these fluids its unique color. Whether pink, yellow, neon, red, blue, black, or any other hue, colorants is what we see when we look at lines made by the device. The main difference between pigments and dyes is that pigments are usually water-insoluble or a non-polar solvent, while dyes are water-soluble.

The pigment is a non-polar solvent unless it is ground to very fine dust. Because of the powder’s property, they are usually the favored colorant choice for these devices, given their resistance to humidity dissolution and other environmental agents.

Solvent

This is the key to making an excellent broad, felt-tip pens; without the solvent to transport and dissolve colorant, as well as the ink resin through the small sponge, these pens will not work. Although water is a polar solvent, these solvents need to be non-polar to break down resins and colorants, which are usually non-polar.

Traditionally, manufacturers use xylene, but because of health hazards, they switched to lesser toxic component like isopropanol and ethanol, since children are starting to use these items for school-related activities. Once the liquid ink us applied to the surface, solvents automatically evaporate, leaving only the resin and colorant.

Resin

These are glue-like polymer. Inks made of resin make sure that the colorant sticks to the surface once the it evaporates. If the ink is only made of solvent and colorant, the colorant will turn to powder and fall on the surface as soon as the solvent component evaporated or dried. While ink made of this component is naturally very sticky, the solvent will keep it fluid and free inside the sealed plastic tube.

Differences

The difference between non-permanent and permanent market rest on its resin component; broad, felt-tip pen has resins that non-polar. It does not dissolve in water. That is why, if the ink with a non-polar component gets on a surface, it will stay there permanently. But if you use chemicals like acetone, a non-polar solvent, instead of water, it will dissolve the resin and remove the mark.

On the other hand, non-permanent ones use ink made with resin that is water-soluble or readily dissolves in water. Not only that, but permanent markers may also use specific dyes and pigments that are not water-soluble or do not dissolve easily in water.

Removal

While removing these ink sounds like very contradicting, there are ways to remove it. Non-solvent chemicals like acetone, as well as alcohol, will remove it from both porous and non-porous materials. A lot of household items like hair spray or deodorant contain alcohol and can be used to remove these inks.

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