How Long Does a Pencil Last? | Facts About Average Pencil

Using a pencil, again and again, months after months, has been costing me a lot. Nearly 15% of my commercial budget is allocated for pencils. After realizing it for months, I decided to find how long does a pencil last and improve my costings.

My first focus went on ensuring the quality of the pencil. I reduced the wastage and only used branded pencils. Then, I improved the additional with the pencils, i.e., the sharpener, erasers, scales, etc.

I found the lead of the pencil coping well with the other accessories. It even served better than usual, and I started to feel the importance of the pencil.

So, my care towards it improved, and I always kept it in a good place. After six months, I found 25% more productivity, 15% less usage of different pencils, and 17% pencil cost reduction. Being so happy, I couldn’t but write about it to you in this article.

How Long Does a Pencil Last


A pencil is said to last over 100 years. Sounds funny, right? It does, but it is what it is. When the quality of the pencil is so good, you are sure to get it active for a hundred years or more.

But that doesn’t count when you use the pencil regularly. The pencil’s lead is what it keeps in useable for a specific time. After that, you can keep the small piece of a pencil to yourself or throw it away.

That is the piece we said to last 100 years. And judging based on the usage, you are assuring to make at least 45,000 words with a single graphite pencil. With a mechanical pencil, the number lowers a bit.

Kinds of Pencils (Regular)

Different kinds of pencils are available on the market. On the basis of usage, there are EE, 12B, 8B, 7B, 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, B, HB, F, H, 2H, 3H, 4H, 5H, 6H, 7H, 8H, and 9H. They determine the softness of the lead texture.

Softer the pencil, the darker the marks you get. So, more lead is used in softer ones. That makes the harder pencil lead to run for a long time comparatively.

Again, based on composition, the pencil can be of graphite, solid graphite, liquid graphite, charcoal, carbon, etc. Same thing, their usage and lead quality determine their service time.

How Long Does a Pencil Last Actually?

There is no specific timeline for a pencil to last or stay durable. You can use a pencil for a week, and the same pencil will last for months. In short, it entirely depends on how you use it.

So, it is understood by now that you are the one deciding the fortune of your pencil. Now let’s come to how you decide that. It depends on some factors of your pencil.

Size, shape, material, etc., depends on the factor that states the life of your pencil. Their quality varies from pencil to pencil. Thus, each of them lasts differently than the other.

Here are the factors that I found out on deciding the fortune of my pencils. Been using it for more than two decades, so they are the real deal.

1. Material and Types

The material of the pencil is one of the deciding factors. A pencil body can be made of plastic and other alloy materials. Don’t get confused only in thinking that the body can be wooden.

It is the lead that is made up of graphite. The lead material remains the same, whereas the outer body of the lead becomes the protective layer.

Mostly, you see the pencil body is made up of wood. To restrain from water, they are coated with a colorful plastic layer. It protects the surface of the pencil and makes the lead last long.

There are also pencils made up of the plastic body. They are mainly functioned by spring, commonly known as a mechanical pencil. Using a mechanical pencil is feasible and a long-term perfect useable one.

So, in short, the type of pencil decides its durability. And when the durability is high, you are sure to get a good service from the pencil for a long time.

2. The Size of a Pencil

The size typically implies the wooden pencils. Because the mechanical one comes indefinite size and shape, it only depends on its lead.

Wooden Graphite or Color

So, a regular wooden pencil lasts long based on its’ usage, i.e., the lead usage and wooden body support. The lead size depends on your usage. It depends on your usage first, then comes the assumption.

If you use the pencil for the whole day, sharpen it overtime to get the best size, and continue it for the next day, it will only serve you 2-3 days.

Mechanical Pencils

If you are using the mechanical pencil, you are less to worry about the size but the lead. The pencil’s lead is available externally. As they are sharper than usual, they tend to break easily.

So, watch out while you are dealing with it. Also, mechanical pencils are more into writing and signing than coloring or heavy usage.

So, a single lead is said to last for 1-2 days based on average uses. I usually use two leads per day as I have to deal with teaching my students and keeping their records on paper.

Read Also: How to Refill a Mechanical Pencil

3. Storage

Care is important. Be it a pencil or any other device; you cannot expect good service unless you take care of it precisely. And the minimum way of caring for your pencil is by keeping it in a safe and sound place.

I see a lot of students and people keeping pencils on the table after work. Later on, they cannot get them in the first place.

And thus, they use another one, setting the lost pencil as unused or finished. This should be avoided. It would be best to keep your pencil in a proper place where it is feasible to find them easily.

4. Exposing

It will help if you keep your pencils in a specific place. A place where you can get it quickly and with proper air. Because sometimes, the body of a wooden pencil requires an adequate amount of air. If it doesn’t get the air, it becomes soft and tends to break.

Also, it is recommended to keep your pencils away from water as much as possible. Yes, your pencils are water-resistant but it exposes to it after a certain amount of time.

5. Sharpening

Sharpening Pencil

Sharpening your pencil is essential. A sharp lead will give you satisfaction with your work and writing. But doing it excessively is like backfiring yourself.

It lowers the rigid portion, making it parallel to the lead head. After that, no matter how much you sharp, you won’t be getting the sharpness from your pencil. Too much sharpening will damage the external function of the pencil.

For the mechanical ones, you won’t need to sharpen them up. They are thin and tend to break with heavy pressure. But we are aware of using the lead correctly.

As long as you are conscious about the usage of your pencil, you are sure to get the best service from them.

Most of the time, we neglect these factors. Even I used to do it at the beginning of my career. Later on, when I started looking at them, I figured out my productivity to increase miles, and the expenses of buying new pencils went down by 30-33%. Indeed, the factors are crucial and should be maintained by all.

How to Increase the Longevity of the Pencil

A pencil has a certain lifespan. Hardly you can reach the maximum level of the span. So, the goal is to use the pencil as much as possible for a long time.

Here are some tips that you have to maintain to increase your pencil’s service and lifetime. There is no guarantee that the pencil will last for double the time it lasts now. You’ll be getting a better serving for a considerably longer time than expected.

1. Using a Good Sharpener

 A good sharpener is essential. If your pencil is not a mechanical one, it is a must to have an outstanding sharpener for edging your pencil.

Perks of using a lousy sharpener? It destroys your pencil. Your pencil’s lead won’t be cut precisely. Moreover, it remains an awkward shape. And you are the sufferer of such unorthodox stuff.

What does it bring? Be it writing or drawing, you cannot use the lead correctly. Also, the surface of the pencil becomes harsh; the skin comes in sharp texture damaging the existing nature of the pencil.

Complete misfortune and bad luck to your work.

You’ll find your pencil not like before, i.e., a damaged one in a short time. Better, use a good sharpener, primarily a renowned one. At least the brand will speak for itself, and the rest will be proven by its performance.

2. Caring the Tip Breakage

It is holistic to maintain a sharp tip all the time. In case of the tip breaks, you must sharpen it out. For the mechanical pencils, replaces the lead after it gets over.

Excess force on the pencil while writing results in uneven breaking off the tip. Rather than resisting the force, it breaks down to an odd shape. Proceeding to sharpen it up, you will see how tough it becomes to maintain the natural shape.

This results in excess sharping, and your pencil becomes dead.

For that, you should be careful while writing with a pencil. Moreover, the tip should be recovered instantly whenever it breaks a bit part. It is not like that an uneven tip will decrease the lifespan of the pencil.

The tip, when sharpened, further reduces the size and costs you more for a new pencil earlier than expected.

Read Also: How to Sharpen a Pencil Without Breaking the Lead

3. Handling it Properly

Breaking of a pencil is joint. Usually, it breaks when you drop it on the ground or step over a lying pencil. And you cannot use a broken pencil like a normal one. Thus, you need to buy a new one now.

The solution to the problem is your sincerity. Just because a pencil is not expensive, it doesn’t mean that you won’t care about it properly. Problem doubles in the case of the mechanical pencils as they are mostly worked with spring and other engineering staff.

Ensure proper handling of the pencil. Keep the pencil in excellent sound storage. A rack or pencil holder is the most effective measure for it.

Developing the habit increases the usage of the pencil by default. Moreover, keep a count of the pencils you use after work. You are sure to have at least 3-4 more pencil usage in the meantime. You are saving money due to it, but you are also increasing your productivity by realizing the service of the existing type of pencil.

4. Using a Good Brand

Brands have always been a standout factor for anything. They might be higher in price than the local ones, but their service always surpasses the amount you pay. Be it pencil or eraser; it has always been recommended to use the global branded one.

One of the most popular brands at the moment is Faber Castle. People have widely used both pencils and erasers. Again, Palomino has been ruling the market among the other brands for some time.

You’ll see the same kind of brands not only in the US but also in other countries and regions. They have assured the trust for a while and have prevailed their legacy quite well. Now the advantages of using them over the local brands. It’s simple; the quality makes the real breakthrough of it.

Moreover, the lead and structural composition matter a lot. Durability and feasibility also stand out to be as crucial factors.


Q: Do pencils have a shelf life?

A pencil does not have a definite shelf life. It depends on how you use it and how you keep it in your storage. You will get an excellent servicing time from your pencil by managing it properly.

For example, a colored pencil can last for about 2-5 years. You can increase life by keeping it in a relaxed and calm place (10-15 years). Again, a graphite pencil can stand tall for more than 25 years.

In short, keeping the pencil precisely and perfectly will bring your fortune from it.

Q: What lasts longer, pencil or pen?

A pen lasts longer than a pencil. They are smoother, more accurate, durable, and feasible by nature. Using them is more accessible, and also their body is more protective.

Pens can easily refrain from the factors that damage the pencils. Thus, you find the pens serving and lasting for more years than pencils.

Q: How long do mechanical pencils last?

Same thing, they don’t have any specific date of lasting. As long as you are keeping the machine and spring loud, active, and workable, you are getting the pencil serving for you.

It is good to use the latest one in the market. You can increase your compatibility with it. But answering your ecstasy, it is preferable to change the mechanical pencil quite every 1-2 years.

Q: How Long Do Colored Pencils Last?

A colored pencil lasts for 2-5 years with proper care. If the pencil is of some renowned brands, you can see it active even after ten years.

Final Words

It is thoroughly described and broken about the longevity of a pencil. Rather than pondering how long a pencil lasts, start looking over it and take its care correctly.

Remember, no result is entirely accurate. All of them are an approximation of personal experience and usage. So, it is only you who can bring the change.

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Maria Tanish

Hello World! Tanish here, a student of Fine Arts. Drawing was my passion from an early age but I also love to do some DIY projects to spend my leisure. Even I work as a writer, to share my knowledge about the ins and outs of drawing and the art industry itself. As an artist, I always wanna share my experiences with you all.

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