Permanent Marker Ingredients

By Dora Diamond
Permanent marker

When quantities of materials found in permanent markers are non-toxic or non-injurious to humans, the permanent markers are labeled with an approved product (AP) seal, as required by The Art and Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI). The seal implies that the permanent markers do not cause chronic or acute health issues in humans. This type of information is readily available in Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) in corporations that produce or distribute permanent markers.

Product Identification

Ppermanent markers prove useful for labeling clothes, books, boxes or freezer bags, and people like them for arts and crafts projects. Permanent marker brands include Bic, Pilot (makers of Sharpie), Dong-A and SkilCraft. Each brand offers permanent markers with tips of varied dimensions in a variety of colors. Sharpie fine point permanent markers, for example, come in black, red, yellow, blue, green, purple, brown, orange, lime green, turquoise, cranberry and aqua. Permanent markers can have either a chisel tip or a twin tip with a different-sized tip on each end of the marker.

Composition of Permanent Markers

The individual ingredients in permanent markers are harmful when highly concentrated or in large amounts, but permanent markers are regulated to be safe for human use. According to InstaOffice.com, Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Markers are comprised of dies, n-propanol (71-23-8), n-butanol (71-36-3) and diacetone alcohol (123-42-2). The numbers in parenthesis are the registry numbers of the Chemical Abstract Service (CAS), a division of the American Chemical Society. CAS numbers identify organic and inorganic chemicals but do not include the manufacturer or concentration of a chemical.

Physical and Chemical Characteristics

The boiling point of n-propanol in Sharpie fine point permanent markers is 207 degrees Fahrenheit, and the chemical has a vapor pressure of 13mm Hg at 20 degrees Celsius. The specific gravity of n-propanol in these markers is 0.8044, and it is water soluble. N-propanol smells like alcohol and is clear in color. N-butanol is also clear in color and has a banana scent. It can be mixed with many solvents, according to Dow.com. N-butanol should not be inhaled and can irritate the eyes and skin. Diacetone alcohol is an odorless, colorless liquid. ChemicalLand21.com reports that it evaporates slowly and is used as a component of printing ink. Diacetone alcohol has a melting point of -47 degrees Celsius and a boiling point of 164 degrees Celsius.

Handling Precautions

Be sure to read packaging for products; some carry warnings against breathing fumes from permanent markers. Storage precautions include refraining from shaking permanent markers and keeping the caps on when not in use. Permanent markers should be disposed of as solid waste and in accordance with federal, state and local regulations. They should not be burned because hazardous products will form, including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur oxides, amines and oxides of nitrogen.

About the Author

Based in Loganville, Ga., Dora Diamond has been writing articles since 1998. They have appeared in "The Gwinnett Post," "The Loganville Post," and "TAS Journal." Diamond holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in instructional design and performance improvement.