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What is an Indelible Marker? | Find Out the Most Permanent Marker

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

what is an indelible marker

Markers are mostly used for writing, labeling, designs, lettering, and more. But, what is an indelible marker? What makes it different?

To answer the question, let us first define an indelible marker. As the name suggests, the marker has indelible ink that is permanent.

Therefore, unlike other markers, an indelible marker is a type of marker or pen that is formulated and designed to make long-lasting and durable markings that could not be easily wiped out, or washed.

Indelible Markers


An indelible marker is also known as a permanent marker. It can write on almost everything and is permanent on most porous surfaces. Moreover, permanency is not finite and could depend on several things.

What makes a marker indelible lies in the ink ingredients or the type of ink used. The surface and storage condition should also be considered when it comes to permanency.

Indelible markers, on the other hand, are either made with:

  • Alcohol-based ink,
  • Oil-based ink,
  • Pigment-based ink,
  • or a combination of these three and other solvents.

Its ink also possesses additional features such as being waterproof, fraud-proof, and lightfastness.

  • Waterproof is where writings can resist fading when exposed to water or moisture. It is a key feature for indelible markers used in laboratories and outdoor applications.
  • Fraud proof is the capability to resist ink removal from solvent exposure. This feature is specifically important in preventing fraudulent activities such as check washings, alterations of signatures, and other details on important documents.
  • Lightfastness is the ability to resist fading upon sun exposure. Dark colors are said to be lightfast than light or bright colors. This is an important feature if you are looking for archival markers that are believed to last for years.

Like other markers, an indelible marker pen is used for various purposes. It is used for writing, drawing, lettering, labeling, self-expression, and many others.

Because of its durability, professionals and many industries prefer to use indelible markers for tagging, engineering surveys, logistics, identification, warehousing, laboratories, documentation, and other purposes.

There are also markers featuring indelible ink for medical purposes; they are indelible marker dental pens.

How Does It Work?


Indelible markers similarly work like other markers. It comes in a barrel that contains the ink and a felt tip that releases the ink.

Its light and its pen-like structure make it easy to apply and control. Like regular markers, they are also available in different tip types: fine tips and chisel tips.

Its application is wide and can be used for plastic and on different surfaces such as paper, wood, metal, glass, stone, ceramics, fabric, leather, and even on skin.

Although indelible markers are permanent, some alcohol-based or oil-based types can be removed using solvents such as alcohol and acetone.

Indelible Marker Pros and Cons

Durable and long lasting Could have strong odor
Preserves art and important documents Could contain harmful chemicals or solvents
Prevents any fraudulent attempt Hard to corect and delete
Water resistant  

Frequently Asked Questions


Is a Sharpie an indelible marker?

Yes, Sharpie is a permanent marker and is therefore considered an indelible marker. It is one of the notable permanent waterproof markers.

They have a wide range of permanent markers for specific purposes. Writings made with Sharpie are hard to remove and can resist fading.

In addition to that, Sharpie also has a more technical line of markers like:

  • Sharpie Pro permanent markers which can write on wet and oily surfaces
  • Sharpie Extreme permanent markers that is suited for extreme outdoor applications
  • Sharpie Industrial permanent markers that can stand high temperatures up to 500 0F

What permanent marker is the most permanent?

Pigment based permanent markers are more permanent than alcohol based and oil based permanent markers.

After a pigment based marker is applied on a porous surface like paper, its pigment does not only stay on the paper’s surface but they do bask on the paper’s fibers making it less susceptible to fading.

Apart from pigment based markers another indelible marker is designed to be permanent on skin and specifically produced and used for election purposes.

This special indelible ink marker contains silver nitrate. Once applied on skin oxidation takes place, leaving a stain that remains on the skin for days.

Are magic markers permanent?

A magic marker is the term used for permanent markers manufactured in the early 1950s. It originated from the first permanent marker which was invented by Sidney Rosenthal.

Rosenthal initially developed this product under his company named Speedry Chemical Products. In 1966, he renamed his company Magic Marker Corporation.

Following its bankruptcy, Binney and Smith, the makers of Crayola acquired the right over its name and continues to produce various markers.

To date you can still see brands manufacturing permanent magic markers and washable magic markers that use the original term, including some big brands like BIC.


Indelible markers are such a useful tool in many ways. Its durability and permanency is often optimized to produce archival artworks, protect important documents, and write on almost everything even on the toughest surfaces.

Moreover, permanency could differ according to ink type, surface, and storage condition. Now that you know what is an indelible marker, how it works and its pros and cons, hope this can help you maximize its usage to the fullest.

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