The Secret Reason Why Your Pen Cap Has a Hole in It

Believe it or not, it's there to save your life.

Some great products are full of unnecessary additions: new car smell, those tiny pockets on your jeans meant for pocket watches, and bras full of water all come to mind. However, when it comes to your office supplies, those seemingly useless details could be lifesavers. Case in point: the hole in the top of your pen cap.

It seems somewhat counterintuitive to have a hole in a pen cap, considering the potential for a dried-out pen. However, the safety implications of this feature far outweigh the potential cons. So, what does that hole do, anyway?

According to BIC, one of the world's largest pen manufacturers, and the brand most commonly associated with caps with holes, the holes are there in the case that cap accidentally ends up in your throat. But who's really inhaling pen caps, anyway? A lot more people than you might expect, unfortunately.

According to a review of research published in American Family Physician, in a single year, American children and young adults swallow a staggering 182,105 foreign items, pen caps included. And that doesn't cover all the adults who chew on a pen cap only to accidentally inhale it.

The hole in your pen cap means that, even if you do get it stuck in your throat, oxygen can still get to your lungs. That tiny hole might be the difference between life and death, providing you just enough air to survive until the cap is removed. While preventing suffocation is the main reason for that little hole, it also has another benefit. Having a hole in the cap can help prevent pressure from building up in your pen on flights or other high-altitude conditions. This reduces the risk that the pen will explode in your bag or pocket; it also makes the cap easier to remove, too. And when you want to learn more fascinating information about the objects you use every day, find out Why the Hour Hand is Shorter Than the Minute Hand!

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more