Why is it that every time I’m on my best teaching game, students engaged that my dry erase marker dies on me in the middle of an awesome diagram or drawing? It’s no small feat to reach such an apex and VERY frustrating to be taken down by a marker.
If, god forbid, I don’t have another in the class or my teacher bag OMG! I have to send a student in search of one, the spell is broken and my lesson just went to hell in a hand basket.
Don’t worry, though, teach; I’m not going to let that happen to you. In 20 years of teaching I’ve picked up a little something about a quality dry erase marker over the years, and these are my top five.
The “tropical” colors are all incredibly vibrant, so even students that sit right at the back of the classroom can always see your notes clearly. I also like the fact that you can use the diverse and unusual shades to color code pieces of information, making it more digestible for the class.
In fact, kids of all ages find these colors more engaging because they’re simply not the norm around school. When they’re invited to write on the board, they can choose their own colors, making the lesson more immersive and special.
Bad smells aren’t a problem with these adventurous markers either, as they’re loaded with low-odor ink, which means no kids pinching their noses and losing focus.
They’re quite thick pens, giving them a comfortable hand-feel during those days that seem to drag on for an eternity, and the lids fit securely on the ends for safekeeping — perfect!
- Low-Odor Ink – No olfactory distractions to compete with.
- Ergonomic – They’re nice and thick to keep you comfy.
- Vibrant Colors – Can be seen from all angles and distances.
- Chisel Nibs – Variable line thickness.
- No Ink Window – You never know when they’re going to run out.
BiC marker nibs are renowned for their moisture retention, so if you’re looking for dry erase markers that can handle life exposed to the dry air of countless classrooms, then the Intensity pack should be a serious consideration.
Furthermore, these BiC masterpieces feature handy ink windows, so you always know how much juice they’ve got left in the tank. As long as you keep an eye on these windows, you’ll never be caught off guard by dwindling ink ever again — hurray!
The colors in this pack aren’t quite as attention-grabbing as the EXPO markers in my number one spot, but they’re certainly vibrant, and the balanced ink flow ensures lines are consistent and copy is legible.
Much like the EXPO set, these are low-odor markers, so you don’t have to worry about funky fumes filling the classroom, which is always a good thing, especially in the winter when it’s too cold to open windows.
Part of the reason these markers have such a mild smell is that they contain absolutely no toxins, ensuring you and the children are safe to use them day in and day out.
- BiC Nibs – Won’t dry out any time soon.
- Non-Toxic – No chance of overexposure to methyl isobutyl ketone or other toxins.
- Low-Odor – Smells be gone!
- Ink Tank Window – You can check ink levels before class.
- Leakage – There are some fairly isolated claims that these markers leak from time to time.
I’m well aware of how fast teachers get through their dry erase markers. It can’t be helped; it’s just the nature of the job, but it can amount to literally tons of plastic waste a year.
What happens if you want to be a force of nature in the classroom without betraying your eco-warrior heart? Well, you invest in some Pilot V Board Master Markers, that’s what!
Not only are they crafted from 91% recycled materials, they’re all completely refillable, so you never have to ditch another plastic marker husk again — pretty great, right? As long as you take care of the nibs, one set could last you into retirement.
With a thick, well-balanced body, I find that they’re just as easy on your hands as they are on the Earth, which is essential when you’re writing on whiteboards all day every day.
They’re not completely odorless, but they don’t contain any toxic solvents such as Xylene or Toluene, so they’re perfectly safe for classroom use.
One last caveat is that the lighter colors can be hard to see from the back of a large classroom. Besides that, these are some of the best dry erase markers you can buy.
- Non-Toxic – Safe for long-scale use around children.
- 91% Recycled Materials – A greener marker.
- Refillable – Reduces your annual plastic waste.
- Ergonomic Size and Shape – Keep your hands in top shape.
- Scent – It’s not overpowering, but it’s definitely present.
- Vibrancy – Pale colors don’t travel well.
Forget that tatty old rag; these markers have built-in erasers on every cap. If you need to erase something, just flip the pen around as if it were a pencil and rubber and wipe the ink away.
The erasers do make the caps quite bulky, but I think it’s a really innovative design that can save you a lot of hassle, especially considering that’s not the only trick they have up their sleeve.
These caps are also, wait for it…MAGNETIC. That’s right, my professor pals. You can line them up around the frame of your whiteboard and reach for them as and when you need them, saving you from littering your desk with markers.
They’re also low-odor and completely non-toxic, perfect for shaping young minds in the classroom.
I know some might not like the slightly angular shape of these markers, but they facilitate a strong, confident grip, and it’s a godsend knowing they’re not going to roll off a surface when you put them down.
- Non-Toxic – Safe for use on the daily.
- Low-Odor – No intrusive smells to distract.
- Magnetic Caps with Felt Erasers – Helps to keep your environment tidy.
- Angular – No rolling off surfaces.
- Shape – Many prefer a rounded marker.
Looking to bulk buy some awesome dry erase markers? This box of Arteza board pens comes with practically every color under the sun, and despite the budget-friendly price point, they’re all incredibly vivid.
With an especially mild scent and non-toxic chemical makeup, they’re also perfectly safe for use by children, so you can get your students up and writing on the board or perhaps even writing on their own mini whiteboards for some rewarding group work.
Featuring true chisel tips, they’re about as versatile as they come, allowing you to write thick bold characters, or switch it up with some fine writing to save on board space during those intensive lessons.
They don’t last as long as some other markers on my list, but when you’re getting 52 pens for next to nothing, you can’t sweat the small stuff.
- Non-Toxic – Safe for use around children.
- Low-Odor – Safe around noses.
- Vibrant – Great visibility from back of the classroom.
- 52 Pack – You’ll be set for years!
- Longevity – Shorter service-life than my other picks.
Best Dry Erase Markers – Buyer’s Guide
They all seem alike, but markers are deceptively complex instruments. When we assume they’re all the same, that’s when we end up with the naff ones.
So, let’s quickly discuss what it is exactly that makes some markers good for classroom use and others complete and utter lesson-ruiners.
Avoid Permanent Markers – Read the Packaging
This is going to sound silly, but I know from experience that some teachers hit the office or art supply store, pick up the first thing that looks like a pack of dry erase markers, then buy them.
You’re always telling your students to read the questions carefully, right? Well, the same goes when it comes to the packaging of your teaching equipment.
Writing on a whiteboard with a permanent marker is the fastest way to derail your lesson. The class will be disturbed, the janitor will have to come and save your bacon, and you’ll have lost focus.
Supply Level Windows
Wouldn’t it be great if you could peer through the walls of your dry erase markers like some sort of super teacher and see how much ink was left? You’d never be caught off guard by an inkless writing utensil ever again!
Well, the good news is that you don’t need X-ray vision to keep tabs on your ink levels, you just need to buy one with supply level windows.
These windows are normally just transparent segments running the length of a pen’s ink chamber, giving you visuals on the inky situation. They’re the fuel gauge of the pen world, and they’re amazing.
Finding dry erase markers with balanced ink flow is a must. If they release too much ink, your whiteboard musings will be easily smudged, and your marker will run out of ink before the day’s through.
If they don’t release enough ink, lines will be patchy, thin, and difficult to make out. A nice even ink flow amounts to a long service life and crisp copy on the board.
Have you ever had a student complain that they can’t read your writing on the whiteboard? It’s not that your hand style is illegible, you’re a teacher after all, a real smarty.
Most of the time, it’s that the colors are too weak. To remedy this, you should be looking for pens with incredibly vibrant, full-bodied colors. It needs to be just as visible to those at the back of the class as it is to those at the front.
If you can still read the pen ink through the glare of sunlight from a classroom window, you’re onto a winner!
Let’s face it, writing standing up against a vertical board doesn’t feel all that natural, especially for new teachers who haven’t quite gotten used to it yet.
It’s not long before that little pen is causing some pretty big hand strain, which is why ergonomics should be a key consideration when picking your teaching supplies.
You need something that feels good in your hand, something that makes writing in this objectively awkward position as easy as humanly possible.
What makes a pen ergonomic, you ask? Three main features…
- Length – Longer pens are easier to hold and provide greater anchorage when writing. You can also use the extra length to reach the upper-most points of the whiteboard.
- Thickness – Generally speaking, thicker pens are more comfortable to hold, but everyone has their personal preferences.
- Balance – The tip should be the heaviest part of the pen, so you don’t have to apply as much pressure when writing.
Robust Anti-Dry Nib
As a teacher, you’re going to be popping pen lids all day long, and every lesson your pen nibs are exposed, they’re slowly drying up.
Unfortunately, the dreaded dry nib can’t be avoided. It’s just a fact of life. But some pens on the market will last significantly longer than others without their hat on.
Smell and Toxicity
A bad smell in a classroom is always going to cause an uproar, so an unscented marker is key.
As you’re inevitably going to get dry erase marker on your hands at some point, it’s best to choose something non-toxic as well. Besides, it’s never good bringing potentially poisonous things into a classroom.
Rear Lid Stop
Dropping your pen lid distracts the class, diverts focus, and, well…makes you look a bit silly, which is why I’d suggest using a dry erase marker with a rear-end that can securely accommodate its lid.
A refillable dry erase pen is good for the environment, saves you or the school money, and as long as you have some refills handy, you’ll never run out of ink — sounds good to me.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we part ways and you map out your next epic lesson, let’s answer some burning dry erase marker queries, just in case something slipped through the cracks of my buyer’s guide.
Are dry erase markers bad for you?
Some dry erase markers are bad for you due to the inclusion of harsh chemicals known as methyl isobutyl ketone, Xylene, and Toluene.
Overexposure to these substances can lead to irritation of the nose and eyes, feelings of fatigue and dizziness, and can even cause headaches, vomiting, and other short-term health issues. This is why it’s best to use non-toxic dry erase markers.
Can you fix dried out dry erase markers?
A dried out dry erase marker probably won’t ever work as well as it did in its prime, but you can fix them to a certain extent.
If you want to give your dry markers some TLC, pour some hot water into an old bowl you don’t mind getting inky, submerge your dry nib, allow it to rest for five minutes or so, then remove it, and leave it to dry with no lid on some paper towels for 24 hours.
How do you prevent dry erase markers from drying out?
Besides keeping their lids on as much as possible, there is one other thing you can do to prevent your dry erase marker from drying out prematurely, and that’s storing them nib-down.
With gravity constantly forcing ink into the nib, they’re more likely to stay moist for longer.
Why does dry erase marker ink wipe clean off a whiteboard?
The ink in dry erase markers adheres to the surface of a whiteboard without being absorbed into it, so you can simply wipe it away.
However, the longer you leave dry erase ink on a whiteboard, the more prominent the “ghost” of the ink will be. This is because, given enough time, any moisture will be absorbed into a surface.
Are dry erasers the same as whiteboard markers?
Yep, dry erase markers are exactly the same thing as whiteboard markers.
What is the difference between dry erase and wet erase markers?
The difference between dry erase and wet erase markers is that you don’t need moisture to wipe a dry erase marker’s ink off a non-porous surface. To erase a wet erase marker’s ink from a whiteboard, you’d need a damp cloth.
Shaping the minds of the new generations is never easy, but the burden can be lessened significantly if you’ve got the right tools at your disposal. Even something as simple as a fantastic dry erase pen can streamline your lessons and help you change some kids’ lives. Keep up the great work!