Have you ever wondered why whiteboard markers can be wiped off a whiteboard, but work just like permanent markers when used on paper or a similar surface? This is due to the combination of the whiteboard surface itself couple with the solvents in the pen’s ink.
The ink used in whiteboard markers is either alcohol or water based, whereas permanent markers use various chemicals. The solvents allow the pens to be quick drying on whiteboard and other non-porous surfaces, such a glass and some plastics. The ink is easy to remove because, whilst it has attached itself to the surface, it has not been absorbed. Porous surfaces, like paper and cardboard, absorb the ink so that it cannot be removed.
However, if a whiteboard marker is used on a whiteboard or other non-porous surface and left there for a long period of time, the ink will stain the surface much like a permanent marker would. While these pens are designed to be wiped off easily, they are not designed to be left on a surface indefinitely.
Alcohol based whiteboard markers are preferable over water based ones as they are more smudge resistant. It is not very common to come across water based markers in workplaces or schools for this reason, but they are very popular for children’s whiteboards as they are less prone to staining clothing and skin.
While whiteboard markers work very similarly to permanent markers, the main difference is in the solvents used in the ink. When used on porous surfaces, however, both pens will function the same, as the surfaces will not repel the ink as a whiteboard will, showing that they really are more alike than you may have thought.