Why So Smelly? Sharpie Scents

  • A marker sold in about 20 different countries, sharpie has about 39 different colors with a fine point. It can be used for posters, add some pop to notebooks, or for arts and crafts. They come in bright, bold colors, can be used to do anything a normal marker does. But it’s a SHARPIE! And that, by itself, makes it worthy for a chemistry post. That and I know a bunch of people who joke about sniffing markers and I already know that it’s not good for you, so I wanted to eleaborate.

Sharpies are made up of many different parts. First, They have a plastic outside and a plastic cap. There is ink within the Sharpie contained in a soft material called a “reservoir”. The tip is made of felt.

Some chemicals found in a sharpie are, according to one site, “…xylene, and then solvent of their choice such as: alcohol, ethanol or isopropanol, ethylene glycol monobutyl. There is at least propanol, butanol, and diacetone. Therefore resin or polymer is added as a “binder” that promotes adhesion. Permchrome ink has the alcohol but not glycol ether.” There chemical makeups are below. Alcohol, ethanol, and iosopropanol are solvents, and Ethylene Glycol monobutyl evaporates quickly.

  • Alcohol:  hydroxyl functional group (-O H) combines with a carbon atom

  • Ethanol: (C2H5OH) Isopropanol: common compound with molecular formula, C3H8O or C3H7OH

  • Ethylene glycol: HO+OH, ethane-1,2-diol

Sharpies, with these chemicals, are toxic when sniffed too much. Some people use Sharpies as a way to experience a “high”, a feeling you get when doing drugs. This is very dangerous, as these fumes can result in damage such as hallucinations, nausea, and memory loss. If sniffed too much, people can get damage to vital organs like the brain and the kidneys. Muscle spasms in the arms and legs can also occur. This can come from sniffing any marker excessively, so, even if it is scented, don’t sniff the markers. While just using the marker won’t hurt you, don’t force anyone to smell it directly, or purposely smell it.

Links:

http://www.chemistryislife.com/the-chemistry-of-sharpies

So ta ta for now and I hope to see your chemical reaction soon!

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