Graphite Dust: On the Avoidance Thereof.

A few weeks ago, Ana Claudia from Brazil wrote in to Pencil Revolution asking about graphite dust solutions. I was in the process of cleaning out my pencil box that week myself, faced with the same issue, and I suggested that we pose the problem to all Comrades:

“I found this site about two months ago, and it was a pleasure to know that there are more crazy people like me that love pencils and discuss them!!!! At that moment I was hoping that someone could help me to solve the biggest problem I face using wood pencils and that even causes me to avoid using them more often: the dust! I don’t know about you guys, but I always have all my pens and pencils and everything else in the pencil case completely dirty from graphite dust. Actually it’s become a bit better after I’ve begun to use a vertical case, but even then the stuff becomes dark. And it’s hard to clean everything, especially because I know they won’t last clean for so long…So, I ask for help!!!!!! Please! I don’t want to move again to mechanical pencils! How can I avoid this?”

So, what do you do when graphite dust covers everything like a layer of shiny grey snow?

[Photos and text, A.C. Used with permission.]

13 thoughts on “Graphite Dust: On the Avoidance Thereof.”

  1. I think the most important thing to do to keep the dust down is to keep the points of your pencils from banging into things.

    Traditional pencil boxes are terrible in that regard. The pencils slide around and every time the points hit the side of the box they make dust. Using an artist’s pencil roll with individual loops or covering the points with point-protectors would keep everything much cleaner. You could also put tissue paper, erasers or something else soft at the point-end of the box to protect the points from damage.

    The box I use for my on-the-go sketching kit is a very small cigarello tin that doesn’t allow much sliding room. I’ve never had a dust problem with it. My every day carry writing pencil doesn’t make much dust either, even though it is very soft (prismacolor ebony) since I keep the sharpened end inserted in a faber perfect pencil holder.

    1. Logan, I’d love to see some photos of the box you’re talking about, if you’re willing to send us some!

  2. I don’t have any but pencil caps look promising :) I do need some since some of my newer pens look awful with graphite marks … I suppose an old pen cap would work well if its long enough to allow the tip to remain intact :)

  3. I use extenders/pointprotectors – Faber Castell’s Ufo/9000 extender and the erasercaps for the grip 2001 will keep most of the dust away. Oh, and no open type sharpeners – in my case! most of the dust comes from the sharpeners.

  4. I use General’s Save-A-Point plastic caps on all my wooden pencils to protect them against breakage, but I guess they are also effective in keeping graphite dust under control. I also tend to use pencil cases with multiple pockets and keep the wedge sharpener blocks in the smaller separate compartments.

  5. Thanks so much for all your advices! I am pretty sure that now I´ll finally solve my “dusty” problem :) I think that the eraser cap is a great idea, but altough Faber Castell stuff is also produced here in Brasil, I cannot find it anywhere, even in the brazilian Faber Castell website. Maybe it will be easier to protect the points with soft tissues…

  6. Ana Claudia, my experience with the Faber Castell eraser caps is positive overall, but it doesn’t work with more fragile points, since the flexibility allows the point to snap off inside and embed itself into the rubber, which is a hassle. However, with more durable pencils, it works fine and the eraser isn’t bad.

    For a quick and convenient solution, check out Bleistift’s blog, which has a great post on newspaper pencil caps:

    I have done a few of these, and find that they actually work quite well, assuming the points aren’t super soft and fragile. There are metal pencil caps to be found in various places as well, and those are what I generally use. Good luck!

  7. Biggest source of dust for me is the sharpener. I keep a closed Staedtler bucket in there as it seals well. However I tend to sharpen them before I leave in the Eisen 402.

    Ana: The Faber tops can be purchased from a few sellers on ebay, search for “faber grip 2001”.

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