Isn’t it annoying when you spend so much money on Prismacolor pencils just for them to break? No matter how many times you sharpen them the lead seems to break off making the pencil useless. Wouldn’t it be great if you could stop this from happening?
When I first got them my Prismacolor pencils used to always break and crumble whenever I tried to use them. It was really frustrating.
However after just one simple change now they rarely break. So how did I stop my Prismacolor pencils from breaking and how can you stop it from happening to you?
Prismacolor pencils break when the core inside cracks from sharp impacts, such as being dropped or banged around. You can stop Prismacolor pencils from breaking by using a soft pencil wrap (or case) instead of the metal box they come in. This protects them and stops the rattling around and breaking.
If you’re going to invest so much in Prismacolor pencils it’s worth investing a little bit more into a good pencil wrap or case that will protect them and help them last longer. There are some other things you can do to prevent them from breaking too.
Why Do Prismacolor Pencils Break?
You might be sharpening your Prismacolor pencil over and over again only to find the lead keeps snapping. Or maybe you’re using it and if you push to hard the lead just falls out.
Why does this happen though? Why do Prismacolor pencils break?
The core of Prismacolor pencils is made from graphite, clay and binders that holds it together and creates the colors we know and love. But these cores can be quite brittle and they can break easily.
If you drop your pencils or they experience a sharp impact (eg. banging against something) then this can cause the core inside to break into multiple different pieces. You don’t see it from the outside because the wood is fine, but inside the pencil the core isn’t one solid piece but lots of little pieces.
So when you sharpen your pencil you’ll find that the tip keeps breaking off. This is because the inside is shattered and each little piece will fall out as soon as there is no wood left around it to protect it.
So when you sharpen your Prismacolor pencils and they keeps breaking this is usually why. We’ll talk a bit later about how to fix this if you have a broken Prismacolor pencil.
6 Ways To Stop Prismacolor Pencils From Breaking
If your Prismacolor pencils seem to keep breaking then there are a few things you can do to stop this from happening to you again.
1. Don’t Drop Them
Dropping your pencils is the number 1 reason why the core inside shatters and your pencils continue to break. So you want to avoid dropping your Prismacolor pencils AT ALL COSTS.
There are a couple of common ways people drop their Prismacolor pencils. It’s a good idea to be aware of these and try to avoid them wherever possible.
- Dropping the box with your pencils in it
- Having your pencils roll off the table and drop onto the floor
- Carrying them in a bag and throwing or dropping that bag (common with school children)
So make sure to always be careful and try to drop your pencils at least as possible.
2. Use a Soft Pencil Wrap/Case Instead of the Metal Box
Prismacolor pencils come in a metal box which can be a really handy way to organize them, but can also lead the the pencils breaking.
Inside the box the pencils bang around against the metal and if you put this box in your bag there is no protection for the pencils against you bag being dropped or banged. This banging (even when inside the box) can cause the pencils to break.
A much better way to carry and organize your Prismacolor pencils is to get a pencil wrap. You could get a regular pencil case, but I’ve found a pencil wrap to be an even better solution.
After getting a pencil wrap case my pencils have been safe and snug and even though I take them to school (and yes I do throw my bag around on occasion) my Prismacolor pencils are COMPLETELY FINE.
In fact, to take the photo of the broken pencil at the start of this blog post I had to manually break my pencil because honestly my Prismacolor pencils almost never break now.
The pencil wrap makes transport with my pencils so much easier!
Each of my pencils have their own individual secure slot and are held in by a little elastic. When I drop them they don’t move or bang against anything hard.
The case itself is quite padded too on the outside. So when it rolls up it provides really good protection for my pencils.
My pencil wrap has room for 48 pencils and two erasers/sharpeners, but you can get smaller and larger ones too.
I also love that this pencil wrap makes it very easy to stay organized. I can see and access all my colors at once. The pencils aren’t in different layers like the metal cases, they are all laid out and easy for me to see and choose the right color. It also makes me feel like a serious artist because none of my friends have a cool wrap like this.
These cases are very affordable and they come in lots of different patterns and sizes. Check out some of the best options linked below!
3. Don’t Oversharpen Your Pencils
Pencils break when they are sharpened too much and the tips get too thin and can break off easily.
Also if you suspect the core inside your Prismacolor pencil is already broken then sharpening it too much will mean it’s more likely to break as they is less wood supporting the little piece of core that is sticking out.
If you over sharpen your pencils the wood does not support the core and this can cause it to break under pressure.
An alternative way to sharpen a pencil is not using a sharpener but using a knife. Using a sharpener offers very little control over how much or how little the lead is shown, it really depends on the sharpener you use
A knife is the best way to chip away the exact amount of wood needed so you are in control over how much of the core is shown. This is how my Grandama taught me to sharpen my pencils and she’s an amazing artist.
A benefit of using a knife is you can expose the core on one side, while keeping wood on the opposite side to support it. This way when you apply pressure the core is less likely to break.
4. Use a High Quality Sharpener
Cheap sharpeners can fray the wood on your pencils and can cause chipped tips and breaking leads.
Also some sharpeners make the top of the pencil really long, while other sharpeners can make it shorter.
Shorter tips are less likely to break when compared to longer tips. If you have a look at how the Prismacolor pencils come in the packet you’ll see that the tips are really small compared to normal sharpeners.
If you find that your pencil leads are breaking often I suggest you invest in a new high quality sharpener.
In fact, Prismacolor sells their own sharpener and it isn’t that expensive. It has 2 openings, one for smaller tips and one for longer tips so you can experiment with the different tip sizes and see which works best for you.
5. Fix Prismacolor Pencils That Are Already Broken
If your leads are already broken all the way through, then melting the leads back together can help.
The cores are made of graphite, clay and binders that will melt at higher temperatures. By melting the core slightly you can fuse it back together. However, you need to be careful you don’t melt it too much!
Fixing Prismacolor pencils can be tricky, but if it’s completely broken and otherwise useless it’s definitely worth a try. Here’s how to do it:
- First preheat the oven to 100ºC/ 212ºF.
- Then place your pencils on a tray or a sheet of aluminum foil and put them in the oven
- Leave for around 10 mins or until the lead is soft (but not melted).
- Then remove them and wait for them to cool
The downside of this method is that it can cause the wood the crack or break but it can save pencils that are otherwise useless.
You can see the full instructions in the video below:
6. Buy Fresh Pencils and Start Again
If you find that your pencils are still breaking and you have tried everything above it may be time for a fresh start. What a great excuse to get that bigger packet or those new colors you’ve been wanting anyway!
Consider buying some fresh pencils and use the tips above to prevent your cores breaking in the future.