I LOVE MAGIC ERASERS! I feel like they are truly one of God's gifts to mankind!
Magic erasers are made from a form of melamine foam. Technically, it's a formaldehyde-melamine-sodium bisulfite copolymer foam made by the German company BASF. It was invented as an insulator and fire retardant. That it cleans like the dickens was a happy coincidence. Melamine is an extremely hard polymer and it's what gives things like Formica laminate its rigidity.
However, when it's pumped full of air something interesting happens.
Despite the fact that the material itself is very hard, the tiny strands that make up the foam's matrix feel soft to the touch. On a microscopic level, those rigid little strands are very abrasive, like super fine grit sandpaper.
There are no active ingredients listed on the package because there really aren't any. Magic Erasers clean by a physical process, not a chemical one. When you rub a dirty spot with a Magic Eraser, you're essentially sanding away the dirt. As you rub, the foam disintegrates. If you clean dishes or anything that will contact food with these things, rinse thoroughly when you're done. Eating melamine is not a very smart thing to do.
As a cautionary note, don't clean anything with a glossy surface with these Magic Erasers. Remember that you're using a microscopic abrasive so when in doubt, test a spot first.
So bravo BASF for being so clever and bravo Proctor and Gamble for breathing new life into an old brand. These things really work!
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JOY DANIELS REAL ESTATE GROUP, LTD
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