Colored Pencils

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the differences between oil-based and wax-based colored pencils?

    Oil-based colored pencils still have considerable wax in the core, but they also have an added oil component to improve blendability and help prevent wax bloom. Wax-based colored pencils do not have the added oil, but manufacturers can enhance blendability and mitigate bloom through a proprietary blend of waxes.

  • How do I choose a sharpener to go with the pencils I buy?

    For delicate cores such as those found in pastel, charcoal, and colored pencils, we generally recommend a handheld sharpener. We do offer some electric and battery-operated sharpeners that are compatible with colored pencils—just remember to occasionally sharpen a graphite pencil to keep wax from gumming up the sharpener. These types of pencils may also have a larger-than-standard diameter, so it's important to make sure the sharpener you choose will accommodate the pencils you have.

    For graphite pencils, almost any sharpener will be appropriate, including so-called "long-point" sharpeners. These provide very sharp points on slim-cored graphite pencils that quickly become unwieldy on thicker-cored color, pastel, or charcoal cores.

  • Can you fix broken lead within the barrel of a colored pencil?

    If you would like to try baking your colored pencils, you may be able to fuse the lead back together. Cover a baking sheet in aluminum foil or parchment paper (to protect the surface). Lay the damaged pencils out in a single layer. Put in a cold oven and turn on to 250° F. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes (depending on altitude and oven). Allow to cool down in the oven so the wax resolidifies without being disturbed. Once the cores have cooled, you can sharpen the pencil(s) to see if they have fused. The process may be repeated as necessary.