Pens of Steel

Hey all!

I got the opportunity to work with Maker's Mark personalizing steel flasks at the Preakness Stakes! While excited, I wanted to make sure I chose the right pen that would last the longest against the elements. I wrote the names of the pens and tested it three times.....scratch test, water test, and alcohol test. While no pen withstood all three tests, I have highlighted which pen came out on top!


Zebra Mackee Care Refillable Double-Sided Marker - Extra Fine / Fine - Black

JetPens description:

These convenient and versatile markers are double-sided with fine and extra fine points. Easily refilled, they are economical and good for the environment. The alcohol- and oil-based ink is quick-drying and water-resistant. The markers write on a variety of surfaces including paper, fabric, glass, plastic, metal and more! They are not suitable for soft PVC items such as swim rings, rain boots, and raincoats.

Sakura Pen-Touch Paint Marker

JetPens description:

Sakura Pen-Touch paint markers feature bold, opaque ink that writes well on a variety of surfaces including light and dark papers, cardstock, plastic, wood, glass, porcelain, and metal. Use them to decorate anything from letters and scrapbooks to glassware and home decor.

This pen can be used with both matte and glossy paper, but the ink shows up best on non-absorbent surfaces. It is permanent on most surfaces but not on glass or ceramic. We recommend testing it first to make sure that it works well for your purposes.

Craft Smart® Multi-Surface Premium Paint Pen, Fine Tip

Michael's Description:

Get quality control at an affordable price with this premium oil-based paint pen. Quick drying and permanent, this fine tip marker provides opaque coverage on a full range of surfaces, including glass, metal, wood, plastic, porcelain and stone.

Craft Smart® Fine Line Paint Pen

Michael's Description:

They give you the convenience and freedom of painting in a mess-free pen, perfect for decorating and personalization on wood, plastic, metal, glass and other surfaces. Alcohol based, water resistant, and non toxic.

Sharpie Brush Tip Permanent Marker

JetPens Description:

The Sharpie Brush Tip permanent markers allow you to create fine lines, bold strokes and shading with one tip! The felt brush tip lets you control the width of your lines with the pressure of your hand. The quick-drying AP certified nontoxic formula ink is fade and water-resistant, and available in several bright colors.

The Application:

All the pens went on smoothly. The Zebra and Sharpie went on the most even, while the others took on a paint-like appearance. *Please excuse the lighting and my spelling of "Paint Pen" :/

Scratch Test:

After letting it set for 5 minutes, I ran my nail down the left side of the flask. All of the paint-like pens scratched off slightly. The Zebra, Craft Smart Paint Pen (white body), and Sharpie were the least affected!

The Water Test:

I ran a wet paper towel over the center of the flask. All pens stayed beautifully! The stores weren't lying to us about being water resistant.

The Alcohol Test (dun dun dunnnnn):

Probably the most important since much of what fills this flask will be...alcohol. When I ran some hand sanitizer over the right side of the flask, the only one not affected at all was the Craft Smart paint pen (black body). Second most resilient was the Pen-Touch pen. The rest came off almost immediately.

Results in a chart form because #leftbrain:

CONCLUSION: I went with the Craft Smart Premium Paint Pen (black body)


OKKKK let me explain how I made the final decision (because technically none of the pens stood up to all my tests). I wanted to clean my flask off completely so here is a picture after vigorous scratching and alcohol wiping. I scratched and scratched at these last few words and could NOT get them off. Given that alcohol resistance was a HUGE factor for this particular product, I went with the pen that scratched off the least AND resisted the alcohol wipes. SIDENOTE: After all the wiping, I think the water almost "sealed" the Craft Smart premium pen and I couldn't scratch any more off, even though it was easily scratched at the beginning.

Always consider the surface you're writing on, think about potential problems and do some tests to figure it out!



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