If you’re a crafter and a parent, you’ll catch your 2-year-old biting a pencil. When you do, you’ll ask what are colored pencils made of?
Colored pencils are made of pigments and binders encased in wood. Most binders are wax, oil, or graphite. But colored pencils can also be made of clay or water-soluble materials.
The choice of material changes the firmness of the pencil and the way it draws. It affects the way pencils blend and layer. Knowing what’s in your colored pencil will help you craft your next work of art.
The materials should ease your mind if you are considering calling poison control. So, let’s explore the differences between wax, water, and oil-based colored pencils to find out which companies make the pencils you need.
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What are colored pencils made of?
Colored pencils are made of pigments and binders wax, oil, graphite, or clay. Binders hold the different colored pigments together to create a core glide over the paper. The core is covered with wood that makes up the outer shell of the pencil.
Colored pencils have a long history that includes oil-based and water-soluble options. Modern pencils make us think of colorful leads being spun out of wood in a factory, but the pencil had humble beginnings.
Most were made of clay and used in ancient times to check lists. When buying colored pencils for back to school, we forget that pencils are used for famous art. However, pencils made for art have high-quality pigments that survive water and sunlight exposure.
The core of colored pencils is called a lead. Yet, it’s a misconception that colored pencils were once made of actual lead. Even “lead pencils” are made of graphite.
Graphite is a form of carbon that gives pencils a chalky feeling when you write. Artists use pencils made of graphite to create fine details that mimic charcoal. Graphite can give you the dark tones of charcoal without smudging.
Colored pencils are made of different materials that produce different results for the artist. But we know that throughout time the most natural materials work the best.
What trees are colored pencils made from?
Most colored pencils are made from incense-cedar trees. The wood is formed into slats with a groove for the lead to be placed in later.
Incense-cedar is an evergreen often confused with pine. The wood is great for colored pencils because it has a smooth grain. Most softwoods can splinter when you make something.
When it comes to pencils, you need to cut small parts, and you can see how they could easily break. Incense-cedar holds up even with small cuts.
What is reforested wood?
Reforested wood is the term used to describe wood that was used after a new tree was planted. Instead of chopping down the tree and leaving a hole, a new tree is planted in its place.
Crayola makes this term popular when they share their colored pencil process. The company offers a lesson plan for kids about reforested wood and manufacturing.
Are wax or oil colored pencils better?
Neither wax nor oil colored pencils are better, but both have different benefits. Oil-based pencils are more permanent and are used for more artistic designs. And wax pencils are better for everyday use because they’re cheaper and more accessible.
Oil-based colored pencils are hard, making them harder to break. They last longer on and off the canvas. As a result, they are more expensive. You won’t find them in school supplies.
Oil-based pencils don’t offer the same smooth layering as wax pencils, but they offer more controlled layers.
The oil gives the pigments a vibrant color that blends well together. The rich saturation is the most popular reason to use oil-based pencils. Because of the look, you can choose oil-based pencils as an alternative to acrylic paints.
Most colored pencils you use are made of wax. With binders, wax pencils are made into the hard Crayola and Prismacolor versions we are used to.
Wax pencils are easy to erase soft. The wax makes it easier to blend and layer colors when drawing.
Over time the wax in pencils can evaporate, causing a film over your drawing. Many artists wipe away the film with a damp cloth to make the design last.
What are Crayola colored pencils made of?
Crayola colored pencils are made of extenders, binders, pigment, and water. The extenders make a sturdy lead, and the colors are held together by wax binders.
Crayola is open about how Crayola colored pencils are made, but they don’t mention every ingredient. Yet we know most colored pencils are wax-based, including Crayola.
Extenders and binders can mean different materials. An extender is a filler that makes a sturdy lead giving them a firm feeling. Extenders can be kaolin, talc, or chalk.
Binders hold the pigment together and are made of wax or oil.
Once Crayola blends the materials, it makes a doughy mixture. The mixture is rolled on the sheets and pressed into the long cylinder shape we’re used to. The company is proud of the process and makes a pretty good colored pencil.
Are Crayola colored pencils wax-based?
Crayola colored pencils are wax-based. The wax binders hold the pigment together and give the pencils a smooth feeling when drawn on paper.
Wax is a popular colored pencil because they are easy to blend. The pencils are cheaper and break easier than oil pencils. Yet, the wax in Crayola pencils is of good quality.
Despite being wax-based, Crayola pencils do last for a while. Making them the favorite for classrooms everywhere.
What wood does Crayola use?
Crayola colored pencils are made of reforested incense cedar tree wood. They grow the wood for their pencils in their own grove.
Crayola plants seedlings to make the wood casings for their pencils. They harvest their own wood and plant new seedlings each time the trees are harvested.
Incense-cedar trees make good colored pencils because they are softwood that is stronger than most. They can be molded into small parts without breaking.
What are Prismacolor colored pencils made of?
Prismacolor colored pencils are made of clay, binders, and graphite. As most people believe, Prismacolor pencils don’t have lead in them.
The wax-based pencils are smooth and have a soft feel. The wax makes the pencil great at layering without much effort. However, they can leave behind more residue than oil pencils.
Prismacolor is special because it makes a variety of colored pencils for art enthusiasts. You can find a set with a soft core, watercolor, and even Verithin.
Verithin colored pencils have an “ultra-hard” cord. This means you’ll get less breakage and crumbling on the paper. They are some of the most durable pencils around.
What are watercolor pencils made of?
Watercolor pencils are made of pigment and a water-soluble core. Like other pencils, that core is cased in wood. The pigment inside dissolves in water, making the pencil look like paint.
Watercolor pencils are not as common as the wax-based pencils you use every day. They are used for blending colors in artwork.
The effects of watercolor pencils are like paintings. In contrast, you can use oil-based pencils to achieve an acrylic paint look. Watercolor pencils allow you to play around with a watercolor look.
The pencils allow less mess and no dry time. However, if you miss using water with paint, the watercolor pencils can be used wet and dry.
Summary: What are colored pencils made of?
Whether you are layering, blending, or filling coloring book pages with your little one, colored pencils are fun. Most are made from wax or oil-based binders, extenders, and pigments. The colorful leads are then encased in incense cedar, sometimes reforested.
Popular brands like Crayola and Prismacolor use different materials that allow different results. Knowing what each kind of pencil is made of gives you more options with your art.
A variety of colored pencils can mimic art techniques, including charcoal, acrylic, and even watercolor paint. Wax-based color pencils are common and affordable but try oil and watercolor for more designs.
No one type of pencil is better than the other. It all depends on your style. For the best results, try them all.