Why Does Dry Erase Marker Float in Water? the Science

Dry erase marker has been my usual companion for a long time. As a student, I have used it at my school and home. Its feasibility and compatibility always amaze me.

Pondering over its uses, I found the pen’s ink floating on water when one of my friends dropped the pen in a bowl of water. The residues coming from the ink were floating.

This raised a question to my mind as to why does dry eraser markers float in water? So, without thinking much, I decided to perform a live experiment to get the result.

Tested the floating on a bowl and water and discovered the awesomeness of the pen. This not only happens by default. Its components play an active role in making that happen.

Let’s get to a brief discussion about the components of a dry erase marker and what keeps it floating in the water.

Dry Erase Marker Float in Water

What’s Inside a Dry Erase Marker?

The dry erase marker is the most common type of marker you usually see. They are the ones used to write on whiteboards at school, college, office, etc.

Such a significant marker that allows you to correct and work accordingly has some unique components. Otherwise, it would’ve dried out completely in no time, and you couldn’t have got the benefit of it.

So here comes the point. The ink of the dry erases marker consists of SD Alcohol-40, isopropanol, and resin. Their roles in separating the marker from the usual ones are immense. Let’s take a good view of them:

SD Alcohol-40

It is a degraded form of ethyl alcohol or ethanol. Mostly, you’ll find the component in beverages. Many beers contain SD alcohol-40. Since it is safe to consume, you can remain aloof from the fear of getting hurt by it.

Other uses of the component can be seen in cosmetics, household products, etc. In a dry erase marker, the component has a great mission to complete.

The ink gets a good role and mixture with SDA-40 in it. A smell you found in the marker tip is also due to the SD alcohol-40. Even when you use the pen on the board, the smell tends to remain active over there too.


Isopropyl alcohol or isopropanol is also one of the active components found inside of a dry erase marker. The primary role of isopropanol is to ensure a good mixture of the other components in pen.

With this isopropanol, the SDA-40 and resin get to have their proper characteristics alive in the marker. Otherwise, their traits would have vanished when they were mixed.

This component allows the other components to perform their roles perfectly. In the mixture, the isopropanol remains a bar that keeps the components mixed and the roles separately.

Isopropyl alcohol is also found in rubbing alcohol. This is one of the most impressive components for cleaning and washing out stains or dirt.

This isopropyl alcohol allows you to remove a permanent marker with a dry erase marker. Surprise? Just rub the dry-erase marker ink on the permanent marker ink and wipe it with a liquid or soapy towel. You’ll see the permanent marker getting out of the platform in no time.

 The isopropyl alcohol is flammable. Watch it out when you take the pen around the fire. Also, it is hazardous to consume. Not recommended for children to use without proper caution.

And ‘Resin’

The sticky nature you find in the ink of a marker is due to the resin. They are derived naturally from the plants and remain sticky by default.

The resin helps to dissolve the alcohol in the mixture. It makes a good mixture through the marker and allows the other components to flowable through the lid.

But this resin gets exposed to air. Once you keep it open, it tends to dry out and return to its state. That’s why more often, you get to see your marker getting dried out or dead. Although, you can revive your dry erase later on.

Why Does Dry Erase Marker Ink Float? (Here’s the Science)

 When talking about the float of dry erase marker ink, you have to go through the components used in ink. As said in the previous section, we know that the dry erase marker consists of SD alcohol-40, isopropanol, and resin. 

Every component inside the ink does its respective role to make it float. SD alcohol-40 uplifts the ink’s removability, isopropanol allows the mixture to remain active, and the resin enhances the flow and slippery nature of the ink.

With these components being stated and used actively, you will find your dry erase marker ink floating on water.

Does it float when your drop the ink on water?

No. Things don’t work like that. When applying the dry erase marker on the non-porous surface like plate, glass, etc., you’ll find the ink getting not fully stuck to the surface.

Thanks to the resin, whose slippery trait allows the ink to remain isolated. Later on, applying water on the will make the ink get uplifted from the surface slowly.

You’ll notice very clearly that the ink doesn’t mix with the water or gets broken. The structure or flow you maintained while marking the platform remains the same as it floats on the water.

Thanks to the isopropyl alcohol, which holds the mixture firmly. There remain no chances of any breaking of the ink structure. Instead, you see the whole thing floating on the water simultaneously. This shows how great the dry erase marker is.

Even when you erase the ink from a whiteboard with a duster, you’ll see the ink particles remaining isolated from the surface of the duster. It shows the strength of the mixture to remain as a whole.

How Do You Do the Floating Marker Trick?

Done with all the theoretical part of the trick, now here comes the main proof. You need to understand the floating nature of the dry erase marker with proper observation.

And for that, here is an experiment that will allow you to expand the idea. But before that, we need to gather some materials, including a ceramic plate or bowl, water, a dry erase marker, and a straw.

So, let’s jump to the experiment now. Make sure you are using a brand-new marker for the cause. This will bring a good result and perception of the experiment to you.

Step 1: Check the marker first. Make sure it is a dry erase marker. To test its nature, apply it on paper or a whiteboard and see whether it can be removed easily or not. This will also explain the strength and perfection of the marker. 

Step 2: Give a demo test of the whole experiment. Give some minor marks on the plate or bowl you got. Pour water on it and see whether the ink floats on it. If the ink floats, then you are in the correct direction with everything. Otherwise, give a change to the surface or marker.

Step 3: Now, draw something big on the plate or bowl. Anything you want. It can be a cat, tree, car, house, etc. Plot the drawing well so that you can get the whole image floating on the water.

Step 4: Add some warm water to the drawing. The amount should be adequate to make the drawings float on the water. You can measure the amount by observing the base of the plate with the top of the water.

Step 5:  After 1 or 2 minutes, you’ll find the arts getting floated on the water. No breakings, no cracking, no mixture; it is the art itself only.

Step 6: To make the floating arts more interesting, you can blow the arts to make a good move. For example, you have drawn a fish on the plat. The fish will be seen moving lively with the blow by the straw.

For more enhancement and enjoyment, you can add some additional tips for the experiment.

  1. Attach a paper or paper towel to the floating arts. Observe if they get attached to the paper or not. If they do, watch whether it is precisely in the same manner as it was drawn.
  2. You can try liquid solvents other than water for the purpose. Soda, sparkling water, cold water, etc., can be some prominent mediums.


Done with all the perfect and awesomeness of the dry erase marker. Now let’s get to know some hazardous impacts of the pen that might be harmful to anyone.

  • Consuming the ink of the marker is hazardous to health. It affects your stomach and is the root of many problems.
  • The odor, at times, is very cancerous to most people. Many might not be able to take it. As a result, dizziness or vomiting can happen sometimes.

Marker residues on hand are harmful to the skin. When it remains in the place for a long time, it causes itches, swelling, or discoloring to your skin.

Best Dry Erase Marker to Use for this Experiment

You have so far got to know about the components of a dry erase marker along with the floating of its ink. Shows how wholesome the thing is! Hardly any other marker possesses the same treatment to float the ink on the water.

For experiencing the best of the experiment, you need to have the perfect marker for it. Otherwise, your goal will not be up to the mark.

Trying various markers in the market, we conclude that EXPO Low-Odor Dry-Erase Markers are the best dry erase marker for the experiment. Why? We have the proper justification for it. Here it goes:

EXPO Low-Odor Dry-Erase Markers

When the purpose is to test the marker’s ink, you cannot find any other marker better than the expo markers. Because the market is so good, that your perception of the whole dry erase pen will get solid and satisfied through it.

The marker pen comes in many packs. We reviewed the one having 36 counts because we wanted to try the full shades and outputs of the brand. You know, the more, the better.

What did the marker gift us? The consistent and skip-free flow of ink. Be it on the plate or paper, the pen’s ink does not discriminate in providing its highest-level service.

The color option of the marker becomes the cherry on the top. There are 8 black, 8 red, 8 blue, 8 green, and 4 purple markers included in the set because more variations in color bring you more options to use it ideally.

Discomfort with the odor of the marker? No chance at all. Because the expo pens come with the lowest ink odor to drain all your attention to your work only, that’s why it has been a great material to the peeps in classrooms and offices.

Not only for your academics but also drawing or poster making, the pen is an ideal one. Calligraphy, banner, poster, arts, coloring, etc., everything is blended inside the pen to be used as a whole.

Why buy others when this can sum up your multiple tasks? Although it shows its perfection on non-porous surfaces like glass, steel, plates, etc., you can also avail its awesomeness on paper.


Q: Does the dry erase marker float in water?

Dry erase marker floats when water is poured on it. To be more precise, the ink of the dry erase marker floats on water when you use it on non-porous surfaces.

It is because of the marker’s components that allow the ink to remain isolated from the surface.

Resin mixed in ink plays a vital role here. Its slippery nature allows the ink to get isolated from the surface with a slight touch of water on it. You’ll also see the inks remaining together. Thanks to the isopropyl that holds the components and refrains them from breaking apart.

Q: How do you get a stickman to move in water?

You already know that the ink of the dry erase marker can float on water. It is because of the components of the ink of the marker. And to make a good roaming of it, you can use a straw or stick.

Even with your hand, you can serve the purpose as well. Interestingly, attaching paper to the ink will make it get stuck to it. The size and portion can vary as transferring from one medium to another are hasty.

Q: Why does ink float on water?

The ink of the dry erases marker floats on water because of the components in it. Resin, isopropyl, and SD alcohol-40 do the main trick over here.

Resin allows the ink to remain separated from the surface. Isopropyl alcohol holds the components together, and SDA-40 uplifts the function of those components. Thus, you find the ink to float on water without any hassle. Even they can move from one place to another and can be transferred from one medium to another.

Final Words

Done with all the discussions regarding why do dry erase markers float in water. Now it’s time to implement the thing and get the results live.

The most prominent marker has also been mentioned. So, you won’t have to go and waste time finding a suitable marker for yourself.

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Loard Eva

Hi there! I’m Eva, artist, designer, photographer and mom of three little gentlemen altogether. When I’m not playing with my kids, you’ll find me researching and writing for ChooseMarker.

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