What is an Indelible Marker? (Ink Ingredients, Purposes,…)

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

what is an indelible marker

Have you ever heard of the “indelible markers?” Do you know what they are? This is actually not a very common term, and most people do not use it in everyday language.

However, the truth is: indelible markers refer to a type of writing tool that people use very often! To be more specific, these pens are made with formulated ink that is hard to erase. Most people nowadays refer to such writing tools as permanent markers.

In this blog post, we will answer, “What is an indelible marker?” and provide more relevant details on its ingredients, composition, purposes, and working mechanism!

All About Indelible Markers


First, let’s define indelible markers. These are a type of writing tool featuring ink formulated to be semi-permanent or permanent, meaning the pigment is very difficult to wash off.

In other words, as indicated in the indelible definition, indelible ink markers are permanent markers, and indelible ink pens are permanent pens.

Ink Ingredients


Permanent marking pens have ink made of a solvent, resin, and colorant. Plus, they consist of glycerol and pyrrolidone. The ink ingredients work together in a chemical formula to produce pigmented marks that can resist water. Hence, they are sometimes referred to as waterproof permanent markers.


The ink of a permanent marker is soaked in a porous material, which is stored inside an airtight plastic tube, making up the body of the marker. There is a tip at one end alongside a cap and a plug at the other.


Indelible markers can be used for drawing, labeling, and lettering when people want their writing to last. For example, because they’re water-resistant, they are ideal for outdoor use. Even in downpours, indelible ink can remain visible on windows, signage, or posters.

These markers work well on various surfaces, including cardboard, ceramic, stone, plastic, and metal. However, on paper, their ink can bleed through if the material is too thin.

Indelible markers also play a role in microscopy. They can be used to label slides and form negative stains for bacterial samples.

Because of their more long-lasting nature, a few people use indelible markers to draw temporary tattoos. For example, Sharpie tattoos are pretty common, given their non-toxic nature.

How Does It Work?


The ink of a permanent marker ink is mixed in with glycol – a crucial ingredient that ensures the ink sticks to the writing surface. Unlike ordinary makers, permanent ones also have a particular type of resin that ensures the ink is not soluble in water, effectively making the pens water-resistant.

Pros & Cons


  • Can work on many surfaces, such as cardboard, ceramic, stone, plastic, and metal
  • Can resist water and be used outdoors
  • Do not come off easily but are still erasable when necessary
  • Suitable for versatile applications


  • They can bleed through paper and show ink on the other side

Tips to Remove an Indelible Marker

In most cases, you can remove indelible marker ink with solvents or pressure cleaning. Here are some of the common erasing approaches:

  • Rubbing the ink off with acetone, isopropyl alcohol, or ethyl acetate. These are especially recommended for indoor use, as their fumes are not too dangerous.
  • Scrubbing the ink away with a magic eraser or nylon scrub pad.
  • Drawing over the ink with a dry-erase marker and counting on the marker’s fresh solvent to dissolve the permanent pigments.

It is important to work in a well-ventilated space when removing indelible marker stains with strong-smelling solutions, such as hydrogen peroxide. Taking extra precautions like wearing a face mask is also not a bad idea.

Even if the ink is not erased completely using solvents or pressure cleaning, these methods can make sure that its visibility wanes. Eventually, the ink will disappear.

Frequently Asked Questions


Are Sharpie pens indelible?

Yes. Sharpie pens are classified as permanent writing tools, and their ink is indelible. In fact, Sharpie ink can last for between 4 months and a few years.

What is the strongest permanent marker?

Unfortunately, there is no single consensus for this. Competition is quite fierce in the permanent sharpie marker realm. Some pretty impressive permanent marker brands are:

  • Sharpie
  • Tekmark
  • Indelible Marker Dental
  • BIC
  • Pilot
  • Pen+Gear

What is the permanent marker price range?

Permanent markers are fairly affordable. Here are some of the prices for popular brands at Walmart:

  • Sharpie Black Permanent Marker, Fine Point (Pack of 2): $4.50
  • BIC Black Mark-It Permanent Marker, Fine Point (Pack of 2): $10.03
  • Pen+Gear Black Permanent Markers, Fine Point (Pack of 2): $1.08

These can give you a rough idea of the price range.

The price of a permanent marker can be affected by many factors, such as its brand reputation, count options, color options, and tip sizes.

It is not tough to find sales and discounts for permanent markers, though. During Black Fridays, you can get rather good bargains for these markers.

Is indelible waterproof?

Yes, indelible markers are waterproof. When you pour water over them, they will not wash off. However, if you use water and abrasive material to scrub them, they can still be erased.

On a different note, glossy surfaces tend not to absorb ink well. Thus, indelible ink, despite being waterproof, might come off more easily when used on these.


Now, you know, “What is an indelible marker?” It is just another way to refer to permanent markers. Markers featuring ink that cannot be removed are considered indelible. A common example is permanent Sharpie.

These markers can be used on many surfaces and are water-resistant. Like others, they come in many tip sizes and colors. You can use them for labeling and lettering, as with any other marker. Even though they are called “permanent,” they are still erasable if you know how.

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