Pencils create marks by physical abrasion, leaving behind a trail of solid core material that adheres to a sheet of paper or other surface. They are distinct from pens, which instead disperse a trail of liquid or gel ink that stains the light colour of the paper.
Most pencil cores are made of graphite mixed with a clay binder which leaves grey or black marks that can be easily erased. Graphite pencils are used for both writing and drawing and result in durable markings: though writing is easily removable with an eraser, it is otherwise resistant to moisture, most chemicals, ultraviolet radiation, and natural aging. Other types of pencil core are less widely used, such as charcoal pencils, which are mainly used by artists for drawing and sketching. Coloured pencils are sometimes used by teachers or editors to correct submitted texts, but are typically regarded as art supplies, especially those with waxy core binders that tend to smear on paper instead of erasing. Grease pencils have a softer, crayon-like waxy core that can leave marks on smooth surfaces such as glass or porcelain.
The most common type of pencil casing is of thin wood, usually hexagonal in section but sometimes cylindrical, permanently bonded to the core. Similar permanent casings may be constructed of other materials such as plastic or paper. To use the pencil, the casing must be carved or peeled off to expose the working end of the core as a sharp point. Mechanical pencils have more elaborate casings which support mobile pieces of pigment co...
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... cedar fences and barns to maintain supply.
One effect of this was that "during World War II rotary pencil sharpeners were outlawed in Britain because they wasted so much scarce lead and wood, and pencils had to be sharpened in the more conservative manner – with knives."
It was soon discovered that Incense cedar, when dyed and perfumed to resemble Red Cedar, was a suitable alternative and most pencils today are made from this timber which is grown in managed forests. Over 14 billion pencils are manufactured worldwide annually. Less popular alternatives to cedar include basswood and alder.
In Southeast Asia the wood Jelutong may be used to create pencils (though the use of this rainforest species is controversial). Environmentalists prefer the use of Pulai – another wood native to the region and used in pencil manufacturing.
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