A permanent marker
June 26, 2020 7:31 AM   Subscribe

What's a good choice for a permanent marker for a specific kitchen task?

— black
— medium point, for 2 digits on a 2x2 surface
— markings won't change
— writes well on white PVC plastic
— must go thru dishwasher
— must withstand freezer storage

Open to any ideas. Thx!
posted by LonnieK to Food & Drink (11 answers total)
I use Sharpies for this, although it can rub off over time and after many washes.
posted by padraigin at 7:44 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]

Any permanent marker will write well on PVC and withstand freezer storage.

All permanent marker ink will fade in the dishwasher, but any non-water-based permanent marker will take several cycles to fade to illegibility. So provided you're OK with needing to go over your markings every so often, any non-water-based marker will work. Sharpies are fine.
posted by flabdablet at 7:45 AM on June 26

They make industrial-strength sharpies that in my experience do stay better on plastics than a regular sharpie.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:45 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]

Polypropylene and polyethylene are both much much harder to get inks to bond well to than PVC, for what that's worth.
posted by flabdablet at 7:47 AM on June 26

A couple of coats of clear spray lacquer over the markings will give them quite a lot more longevity, though the dishwasher will eventually render it a bit ratty and flaky. You can also make permanent marker ink stick to PVC quite a lot harder by doing a bit of surface prep with 300-grit sandpaper before writing on it.
posted by flabdablet at 7:49 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]

Not all all plastics work well in the freezer. PVC can become brittle when frozen and the stress of freezing and thawing likely will reduce the useful life of your PVC objects.
posted by Glomar response at 8:09 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]

True, though as long as what's being frozen inside it isn't liquid or otherwise packed in wall-to-wall it should be OK. Cold PVC doesn't much like being stretched, but if you only use it to freeze stuff that won't stretch it as the freezing happens, the cold-induced brittleness will reverse on rewarming and not result in cracking or permanent weakness.

That said, PVC is also not a plastic I'd personally choose for storing food in, frozen or otherwise, because of plasticizer leaching. Most polyethylene and polypropylene containers are plasticizer free.
posted by flabdablet at 8:38 AM on June 26

If you can't find a marker that will do the trick directly on the plastic container, you might try self-laminating labels. Search Amazon or similar for "daycare labels" and you will get dozens of options. I haven't tested them in the freezer, but we have been sending cups with labels made by Whoozems through the dishwasher for years and they still look brand new.
posted by c lion at 9:55 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]

I use the Sharpies mentioned upthread for this.

The writing goes through the dishwasher multiple times and doesn't wear off in the freezer. I do think it fades over time with repeated spins through the dishwasher, though. If it needs to be 'forever' you might try some kind of etching on the plastic?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:23 AM on June 26

I switched to grease pencils replacing most sharpie functions and have never looked back.
posted by spitbull at 6:10 PM on June 26

Thanks all -- good info all around. I'll try the different options.
posted by LonnieK at 8:35 AM on June 29

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