Monday, September 03, 2007

Faber-Castell PVC-Free 7085-20 Eraser Review

Faber-Castell PVC-Free 7085-20 Eraser Review

Time to carry on broadening my eraser horizons. So, the Faber-Castell PVC-Free 7085-20 eraser was on special down at the store and I bought a two-pack. I don’t think I’ve ever really used a PVC-Free eraser before. Firstly, it’s a very soft compound, at least compared to something like the Staedtler Mars Plastic. Being a soft compound you really use a lot when you rub something out. It’s very smooth and easy on the paper. It is often cleaner and less smeary than a vinyl eraser because the compound comes off the eraser and rolls up into strands or blobs.

The 7085-20 is relatively normal sized eraser – 62mm long x 21mm wide x 11mm thick. It has a cardboard sleeve which slides smoothly down the eraser when wanted. It is made in Malaysia. The back of the packaging makes this statement – “Making life better for our young ones. Life is precious. Let’s give our young ones the best. Faber-Castell erasers are safe for children and unique in design.” Wow. Heavy stuff!

Right then, enough of the advertising bumpf, time for some comparison tests against the Staedtler Mars Plastic vinyl eraser. Here’s the results.

Mechanical Pencil (polymer) Lead.
1: With heavily applied HB lead - its close but the PVC-Free is better.
2: With lightly applied HB lead - its close but Mars Plastic is better.
Woodcase Pencil (ceramic) Lead.
1: With heavily applied HB lead - Mars Plastic is definitely better. The PVC-Free eraser leaves a noticeable light grey residue behind on the paper.
2: With lightly applied HB lead – it’s pretty much the same story, but the Mars Plastic was not quite so clearly better.
3: With normally applied 5B lead - PVC-Free is definitely better. The soft compound coming off the eraser means it doesn’t initially smear the graphite around, and overall it took more off. Certainly you notice how much easier on the paper the PVC-Free is.
Overall then it’s a bit of a mixture, with PVC-Free better under some circumstances and not under others. I have certainly added the Faber-Castell PVC-Free eraser to my armoury.

Just what exactly is “PVC-Free”? Nice to know it isn’t PVC (I suppose we should care), but what exactly is it made from? It’s very hard to find the answer. Most websites just imply it’s some sort of plastic, I assume some sort of TPR/TPE, but who knows? I’ve seen lots of ordinary rubber latex erasers labelled as PVC-Free. That’s obviously true, but rather than labelling themselves as “latex” or “natural rubber” they label themselves as what they are not, rather than what they are.

What’s so bad about PVC that it’s good to be PVC-Free? PVC manufacture is often cited as being high up on the list of environmentally damaging industries so that’s one thing. But then when they label PVC-Free erasers as being “child-safe” that seems to be going a bit overboard. Are there common “child-unsafe” eraser materials? Latex allergy is far more common than PVC allergy, but latex erasers legitimately label themselves as PVC-Free. Diverting attention!


Unknown said...

PVC requires plasticizers so that it becomes malleable/soft. Phthalate plasticizers are common but have been embroiled in a controversy that they lead to a variety of health problems. The hot button being children's soft toys which infants are prone to stick in their mouths and suck.

There is of course the issue around the amount of dioxins that are released during manufacturing and later incineration of waste PVC.

Given that the majority of plastic plumbing pipes, house siding and vinyl flooring is made of PVC, I'm not sure if all the PVC erasers in the world would even be a drop in the bucket by comparison.

And why any child would want to suck on an eraser or snort eraser shavings is beyond me.

(It's 3:40 AM so excuse my incoherency.)

jgodsey said...

great review!
thank you very much.

Glen Mullaly said...

Interesting, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a link on where to get these?


송지용 said...
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Anonymous said...

Sucking/chewing on erasers is only part of the problem. PVC gases off for the whole duration of its life, and the shavings often get spread around, presumably spreading around the pthalates, too. PVC also frequently contains lead, a toxin which does not have "safe" exposure levels. Needless to say, I will try to get some PVC-free erasers soon. Thanks for the post.