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How much is inside a Sharpie?

Sharpie fine point permanent markers are an office-worker's second-best friend. Not only do they provide a strong, legible mark, the comfortable shape and low price make marking fun!

They are great for all kinds of jobs!

  • Addressing envelopes

  • Labeling freezer bags

  • Applying fake tattoos

  • Covering gray hair

  • Making sunglasses

  • Personalizing bus seats

  • Marking livestock

  • Grading fruit

  • Web design

  • Numbering triathletes

  • Ruining Dry-Erase Boards

  • Autographing footballs


Perhaps the only problem with Sharpies is that eventually they run out, and those little refill kits never seem to work. How far could a Sharpie go before that happened?

Before the testing began, I had to decide on the best surface to mark. After weighing the alternatives, I decided that the #1 most common use for Sharpies is labeling CDs. How many CDs could we mark with one sharpie?  On Saturday night, we decided to find out.


In preparation, I had taken advantage of a sale at Fry's electronics. They were selling 50-packs of blank CDs for just $8. Unfortunately, they limited the sale to one-pack-per-customer, so I was forced to go back inside seven times, masquerading as a different Fry's customer each time.

I went first as myself, then the anime junkie, the turbo-executive, the wargamer, the bearded programmer, the P2P DJ, and finally as the shameless pirate. The outfits worked, and I was able to buy 7 packs of CDs without the cashiers noticing. I wondered if these 350 CDs could all be labeled by one Sharpie. 

Some friends came over and we took turns labeling CDs with a brand new black Sharpie marker; retail price $1.59

We tried to think up realistic titles and labels for the CDs, simulating actual Sharpie use. Mix albums, software titles, ebooks, clip art, fonts and photo collections were imagined and labeled. 


Labeling CDs with a Sharpie isn't as classy as those round paper labels that run through your inkjet printer, but you can't beat a Sharpie for speed and enticing odor.

Here is a sample of the titles we were composing. You'll be able to painstakingly examine every single CD at the end of this story.

  • High resolution scans of currency
  • 13 songs from car and beer commercials
  • old school sports logos
  • clip art implosion '89
  • ultimate saxophone jams
  • Norway rocks!
  • Anatomical Photos of Animals and Plants

Before the first 100 were finished, Tom expressed his concerns about how long this experiment might last. The plastic CDs didn't absorb very much ink at all. 

Amy took her turn. The process would have been faster if we could have all used the pen at the same time.

Tara could have labeled two CDs at a time... heck, maybe more!

Some CDs were illustrated. This was one of Mike's.

After the first 200, it became more challenging to think up funny ones. Luckily we were drinking and the sharpie was degassing butyl and propyl alcohol, so they still seemed just as funny.

The action stopped when Tara inadvertently slashed across her jeans.

We rushed to the hospital, only to be turned back when the doc explained that Sharpies aren't actually sharp.

 Just to be safe, we decided to stop labeling CDs for the night.

The next morning I decided to weigh the pen. I wanted to know if we were close to the end, or if we were still at the beginning of the pen's writing potential. The sharpie weighed exactly 7.5 grams.

Please continue reading page two.

How much is inside other stuff? | Christmas Tree | Bacon Bits | Dial Complete | A Pumpkin | An Acre | A Keg
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Sept 7th, 2003.

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