One of the most awesome things about pencils is the ability to erase what you’ve written or drawn and change it. But which eraser works best?
I decided to put a few different types of erasers head-to-head and see which one works best. Its not the brand of eraser that is the key attribute but rather the type of material used to create the eraser. There are two common types of erasers for everyday use: plastic/vinyl erasers (usually white and almost all are now latex-free) and compound rubber (a bit gritty with a pumice-like material embedded in rubber).
There are also more task-specific erasers like kneaded erasers for artists, “pen-erasers” which have metal pumice to basically sand off a layer of paper and dozens of different shapes and sizes to meet whatever specific purpose you might have. There are lots of type of erasers encased in plastic cases, electric erasers and more. Too many to cover in one post so I’ll stick to the traditional block erasers. Most of which can be purchased at any shop that sells stationery products, from a drugstore to Target, the office big box in your area or your local art supply shop for $2 or less.
I pulled out the most commonly available erasers in my stash including the full range of Pearl erasers from Papermate: the classic Pink Pearl, the Black Pearl and the White Pearl. I also wanted to test my go-to eraser, the Staedtler Mars Plastic against these. I threw in a Koh-i-noor MAGIC (while not the easiest to acquire, its a compound rubber eraser and features fabulously unique looks). The Sanford Magic Rub is a plastic eraser like the Staedtler Mars and, finally, the Mercur i-eraser is a translucent PVC, latex-free eraser which I recently picked up at the local art supply shop to round out the mix.
Lots of pencils come with an eraser cap and these block erasers are often made of similar material. I would compare the look and feel of the Black Pearl to the black eraser cap found on a Palomino Blackwing 602. The Ticondergoga has a pink eraser cap similar to the the Pink Pearl. I find however that the small eraser caps on pencils often just collect lint in my pencil case and, due to their smaller size, dry out quickly. The drier the eraser, the more likely it will be to smear or crumble making a bigger mess than necessary. This is why I tend to prefer block erasers. Since they are larger, they don’t dry out as quickly and if a bit of it does dry out or get too dirty to use, I can trim off the end with a utility knife and have, not only a clean bit of eraser but a crisp sharp corner as well. WIN.
I chose three pencils to test: a Mirado Black Warrior HB, a Palomino Blackwing 602 and a Faber-Castell Grip 2001 2B. I did a scribble for each eraser.
I erased each scribble but I left the eraser dust in place to show how much dust each eraser created. Each eraser left about the same amount of eraser dust.
What surprised me was that different pencils erased differently. The Mercur i-eraser didn’t erase the the Mirado Black Warrior hardly at all but erased the Faber-Castell Grip 2001 almost completely. And, as I would have expected, the Staedtler Mars Plastic erased better across the board than any of the others. The Black Pearl worked pretty well across all three pencils. I would definitely pair the Mercur i-eraser with my Grip 2001s from now on. It erased very cleanly with both the Blackwing 602 and the Grip 2001. So strange.
My expectation, when I tested these, was that one eraser would be a clear winner, and if I had to pick one, then I would choose the Staedtler Mars Plastic. But each of these erasers performed better with some pencils than others.
There’s one other aspect of erasers that I really like. Its the feel of it in my hand. One of the gentlemen on Erasable (I think it was Andy but I can’t remember at the moment) mentioned the Black Pearl as a “worry stone” — an object to hold in your hand while thinking and that is why I love the Black Pearl. I often find that I press it into the palm of my hand like a little river stone while I’m writing. Its strangely soothing. They can also be used to weight down the corner of your notebook or keep your pencil (or pen) from rolling off the table. Even if you’re not inclined to use it to erase pencil marks, erasers are quite handy and a must-have for any well-appointed desk.
In the end, erasers will be a preference for each user but any one of these would be a good place to start.
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