Can A Pencil Write Underwater?

If you do a lot of swimming and you spend time in or underwater frequently, you might be wondering whether a pencil can write underwater or whether you need special equipment for this.

A pencil can write underwater provided that you have a suitable medium to write on. Traditional paper will tear as soon as it gets wet, but if you have some waterproof paper, a standard pencil will work on it even underwater. However, aqua pencils do offer a few advantages.

Anyone who needs to take notes while submerged in the sea, a lake, or a pool will know that taking notes and writing messages is invaluable – but how can you do this when you are underwater?

Can A Pencil Write Underwater?

Can a pencil write underwater?

In theory, a pencil can transfer markings to another surface underwater. A pencil works by rubbing a thin layer of graphite off the tip and onto the writing surface, so you do need a surface that is suitable for working on – but if you have one, there’s no reason that a pencil should not write underwater.

If you are going to use a pencil to write underwater, you will need:

  • A waterproof notebook
  • A waterproof sheet of paper
  • A waterproof wrist slate
  • A standard underwater slate

Any of these should allow you to work with a standard pencil underwater, so think about what you need before making a purchase. Notebooks are often handy if you want to make and keep notes, whereas a slate may be better if you just want to write a message to one of your companions and then wipe it away.

There are a few other things that you should think about before you take an ordinary pencil into the pool. After all, pencils are made of wood, and mechanical pencils may have metal parts that will rust when exposed to water for long time periods, so you need to take the right approach.

What Kind Of Pencil Should You Use Underwater?

Can a pencil write underwater?

You may wish to purchase an aqua pencil if you are going to do a lot of writing underwater. Although normal pencils will work, they suffer from a few disadvantages, including that they are easy to drop and lose, especially if you are swimming in deep water. You should attach a clip to any pencil that you will be swimming with.

Normal pencils may also fail to make a dark enough mark on the paper for you to see, particularly if you are operating in dim light conditions. Most aqua pencils are darker and will therefore show up better on the paper, allowing you to see your writing more clearly.

Aqua pencils also tend to be mechanical so that there is no need to sharpen them – not an easy feat underwater – if the lead breaks or they become blunt. You can simply push more graphite through the barrel and your pencil will be ready to write again. This is a big bonus over traditional pencils, which become useless if you break them.

Aqua pencils will also be sealed to prevent water from getting in and rusting the mechanism, and they are usually easy to grip even if you are wearing diving gloves. This makes writing more comfortable and ensures that you can take legible notes even on a long dive. Most tend to be brightly colored, which may make them easier to locate if they do become detached from you.

What Happens If You Take A Normal Pencil Underwater?

There is nothing wrong with taking a normal pencil underwater, but over time, it is likely to be affected by getting soaked too many times. This is true of both traditional wooden pencils and mechanical pencils. Wooden pencils will start to break down and may even rot if you don’t dry them properly, while mechanical pencils might rust.

This is even more true if you are swimming in saltwater, as the salt will build upon your gear and may start to corrode it. You will need to thoroughly clean the pencil after a dive, and then make sure that it gets dried out as soon as possible. This is also the case if you are swimming in chlorinated water.

Normal pencils will write on waterproof slates and waterproof paper well enough, but they aren’t designed to be used in a constantly wet environment, and may not last as well. Overall, if you are going to do a lot of diving, it is worth investing in a proper aqua pencil, rather than using a normal one.

Scuba Choice Diving Dive Writing Slate 6 x 4 with Graphite Pencil
  • Measurement: 6" x 4"
  • Clip attached
  • Comes with a graphite pencil

Are Aqua Pencils Special?

Aqua pencils are similar to normal pencils in that they use graphite to mark the paper, and they have a barrel that makes them easy to grip. They are not noticeably different from normal pencils, but let’s cover a quick summary of the advantages that they offer:

  • They have a tether to ensure that they don’t get lost when you let go of them
  • They are usually mechanical so you don’t have to sharpen them
  • They have a good grip so you can write with them in cold, wet conditions
  • They tend to be brightly colored so that they are easy to spot in the water
  • They usually have darker lead, so your writing is clear even in low light conditions

If you are just going to be swimming in your local pool and you might occasionally want to scribble a note on a slate, try using a cheap, ordinary pencil first – but be aware that it may degrade over time and it won’t be attached to your person, so it will sink if you drop it.

For proper diving, especially in saltwater, it’s best to get an aqua pencil that you can attach to your gear and hold more easily. This will generally give you a better experience.


An ordinary pencil can write underwater provided you are using a writing surface it is compatible with. However, for serious dives, an aqua pencil is generally a better choice, so consider getting one before you take it to the water.

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