Sharpie - Part 2

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I weighed a new, green sharpie and found a disappointing surprise: The new sharpie only weighed 7.8 grams. 220 CDs had only used 1/3rd gram of ink!

I started to cry... then my tears turned to anger! I struck back, sawing apart the marker. 

Under the solid plastic body was the heart of the Sharpie. It appeared to be a 3" drinking straw filled with ink-saturated fiber. This modern ink reservoir was invented in 1890, replacing the taro root our ancestors used for centuries in their permanent markers. 

The tip of the pen was also saturated with ink.

The combined weight of these ink-bearing components was 3.7 grams, which meant that I had a lot of CD labeling ahead of me.



I bought more CDs and brought them with me to visit Mark, Tara and Karen in San Francisco. I put everyone to work. By the time I returned to Sacramento, nearly 400 CDs were labeled.


  • Princess Leia's message to Obi Wan
  • Songs that have been misinterpreted as patriotic
  • How to kick ass in Scrabble
  • Songs that are like a tumor in your head
  • Internet Turbolizer Xtreme 2.0
  • 12 recordings of my cat walking on the piano

Unfortunately, the Sharpie was still going strong.. although, sometimes, on the first stroke of a CD label, it took a bit of coercion to get the ink flowing properly. 

I embarked upon a series of grand CD labeling projects.

  • Outlines of the 50 states
  • Mottos of the 50 states
  • The countries of Africa
  • The 52 cards in a deck
  • The Elements of the Periodic Table


And the Sharpie kept going! Not since the "How much is inside batteries" episode had a product so utterly outpaced my expectations. I was amazed!



More than 800 CDs were labeled and I was running out of ideas, running out of patience, and running out of disguises.

I invited Tony to label some.

Chris helped too. He labeled 64 CDs with the names of famous composers.

Finally, while labeling the "Birds of the World" collection, somewhere between "shags" and "boobies", the pen began to struggle. I could write one whole word without the expected delivery of ink bursting forth. The end was near!

I kept at it, and on August 22nd, almost two months after I began, the Sharpie died. The marker could still muster black streaks, but for legible labeling, it was finished.

The total was 968 CDs labeled with one Sharpie marker. You can view tiny images of the CDs on the gallery page.

I estimate the total distance marked to be 1,800 feet.



Mike helped hold the towering stack for this photo. The pile was 54" tall (138 cm). The wall was visible through the side of the stack.

The experiment was a success!

Now all I have to do is to convince the Sharpie people to start making ink cartridges for my printer.


The inevitable CD auctions

Special thanks to Sarah for sponsoring "How much is inside a Sharpie".

How much is inside other stuff? | Christmas Tree | Bacon Bits | Dial Complete | A Pumpkin | An Acre | A Keg
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Last updated Sept 9th, 2003.

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