Permanent Marker Peels Off Glass

If you want to show a magic trick to your friends, you’ll need some glass, a permanent marker, water, and a whole lot of patience.

When the glass with permanent ink is slowly dipped into water, the writing lifts off the glass, staying intact in the water while it floats.

Scientists were curious on how and why this happens but now they have an idea: physics.

photo from
photo from

The surface tension from the water (which could considered as one of natures strongest forces) breaks the seal between the ink and glass.

Emilie Dressaire, a mechanical engineer at New York University said this about the phenomenon: “I think it’s amazing, the fact that they can actually peel off this layer of Sharpie with just water.”

Researchers stumbled upon this by accident in the lab as their labels would peel off the glass microscope. “It was just a funny observation,” said Sepideh Khodaparast, a mechanical engineer at the Imperial College in London, England.

The researcher first recorded this process with thin films of ink from permanent markers. Then they used plastic polystyrene, this can be produced more precisely than can ink films.

This technique works, but you will have to move the glass very slowly into the water because if the water rises too fast, the wedge will fail instead of peeling away.

If you could pull this trick, then you could be the talk among your friends.