If you have ever sat in a classroom with an old blackboard, you were probably excited when you were introduced to dry erase markers and the modern marker board.
However, did you ever stop to wonder what dry erase markers are made of, how the fumes affect our health, and what actually makes dry erase markers non toxic? With Expo dominating this market, it’s easy to trust such a big brand that is seen in almost every classroom and corporate office setting. The truth is there are several better options for non toxic dry erase markers.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I could be compensated if you decide to make a purchase. You can read my full disclosure here.
Our Favorite Non-Toxic Dry Erase Markers
The Auspen non toxic dry erase markers are eco friendly and refillable! With a wide range of colors to choose from you will never get bored with the selections! They also make these in a chisel tip and bullet tip. Not only are you helping with waste control, but the quality is great too!
This non toxic dry erase marker set comes with 13 rich colors and is eco friendly! The outer portion of the marker is 100% recyclable and they are free of xylene! Their inks are denatured in alcohol to avoid harmful fumes and VOCs. Also, to extend the life of your markers, be sure to store them tip side down.
While these non-toxic markers are labeled dry erase, they are washable too. Crayola is a great brand for children and by using the fine line dry erase markers you can write and draw more precisely!
Your kids will love the 6 vibrant colors that Modern Twist has created by using 70% recycled materials! Don’t forget to grab a set of their silicone mats that make great road trip activities without having to worry about a mess. We love that all of their products are non-toxic and kid friendly!
These bullet tip non toxic dry erase markers come in 8 different colors that have xylene and toluene-free ink. Eco friendly and no nasty odors compared to conventional dry erase markers.
What’s In a Dry Erase Marker?
The components in a dry erase marker may vary from brand to brand. In order for the marker to “work” there must be a combination of ingredients in order for the pigment to transfer to the marker board. Most dry erase markers contain alcohol or an alcohol blend, pigments, polymers, other solvents, additives, and additional scents.
When you see the verbiage “low odor” chances are the markers are not fully non toxic. The odor that is emitted once the cap comes off the marker is typically from the solvents, with the worst being xylene and methyl isobutyl ketone (also known as 2-Butanone).
If you are ever in doubt, you can search for the brand’s MSDS sheets to get a general idea of the ingredients if they aren’t listed on the product itself.
The primary purpose of alcohol being present in dry erase markers is that it helps the ink to dry quickly.
Polymers or resins that are added is what actually allows the marker to erase easily and has the slippery feel when wiped from glass, melamine, or the marker boards.
Pigments are what give the markers their color and the solvents dissolve the pigment in order for the color to “come out”.
Why You Should Use Non-Toxic Dry Erase Markers
Non-Toxic Dry Erase Markers are Better for Your Health
While being exposed to these chemicals and fumes in small periods of time isn’t nearly as harmful as being exposed in larger doses and longer periods of time on a consistent basis, there’s still a concern.
Think about teachers in the classroom with at least 20 children all using the dry erase markers at the same time. Let’s not forget the dust that the markers emit when being erased. Some people even use their hands instead of erasers.
The EPA reports that headaches, dizziness, nausea, and irritations in the nose and throat can be symptoms from fume inhalation and serious health issues may arise after chronic exposure.
Water-based dry erase markers are much less potent in terms of smell, but typically need a damp towel or a spray to erase from the boards. While these may not be as convenient, they are definitely safer.
Non-Toxic Dry Erase Markers are Better for the Environment
Have you ever thought about where markers go after they make their way to the trash? Not only are dry erase markers a problem for our health, but they’re also a problem for our environment.
Over 400 million dry erase markers are thrown out per year from schools, colleges, homes, and corporate offices.
Non toxic markers are much safer for the environment and many companies find ways to recycle and reuse them.
Some of the non toxic dry erase markers that made our favorites list are actually refillable! So not only are they safe, but they reduce waste as well.
What if I Have to Use a Conventional Dry Erase Marker?
Avoid the Fumes. If you absolutely have to be exposed to dry erase markers, try to keep the cap on when you aren’t using it and only use it for short periods of time. Try to be sure that the room is well ventilated, and the smaller the tip the fewer fumes are emitted.
Don’t Erase the Board with Your Hands. Just as the fumes from inhalation of dry erase markers can be harmful, they can also be a skin irritant as well. Only use a cloth or eraser and try to avoid the chemical sprays that are often used to clean marker boards.
Many years ago we didn’t have access to the amount of non-toxic products as we do today. Thankfully with more awareness of non toxic living we can start replacing everyday harmful products with a cleaner and healthier alternative, including our markers!
P.S. If you’re shopping for non toxic markers for your little ones, you may also want to know how to find non-toxic toys too!