MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: What chemicals are in dry erase markers? and area they harmful to you?

Date: Fri May 27 11:07:01 2011
Posted By: Keith Allison, , dept: New Product, Technology & Development, Binney & Smith, Inc. (Crayola)
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 1306166926.Ch

Original dry-erase and permanent marker inks all used benzene-containing 
solvents.By the last decade, Dry-erase ink manufacturers switched their 
solvents (ink carriers)to ethanol/isopropanol (alcohol-based) to claim 
less toxicity and "low odor" which were main complaints stemming from 
these original solvents. Most current dry-erase products that can be 
purchased today are certified non-toxic (written on package copy). 
Regarding ingredients, all alcohol-based dry-erase marker inks contain 4 
basic ingredients:

1. Carrier (solvent)- as previously stated, either ethanol or isopropanol 
or a mixture thereof; provides fast-drying, less tendency to smear

2. Colorant- predominantly pigments, most popular of which is carbon 
black; for opacity and color permanence and vibrancy

3. Release agent- an oily (can be simply a mineral oil) surfactant or co-
solvent which will coat the board to provide easy erase barrier (such that 
the colorant slides off of the board surface and does not penetrate or 
stain over time)

4. Lastly, the ink contains a small amount of a polymer or resin that 
helps the ink spread evenly on the board surface (so the ink does not bead 
up) and helps the ink to be cohesive (as opposed to adhesive)  

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