Really anything stickier than paper will be able to erase graphite. Pencil writing is really a mix of graphite and clay that clings onto the fibers in paper. Rubber erasers can lift up these flakes of writing simply by being stickier than the paper.
How Do Erasers Erase?
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Key Facts In This Video
Pencil lead isn't actually lead—it's graphite. 00:23
The earliest erasers, which date back to the 1500s, were just bread. 01:20
The word "rubber" originated from a scientist who discovered how easily it picked up graphite when rubbed. 01:40