It is almost unthinkable that one can write with a light beam, but this is what a laser printer does. And what allows this beam of light to leave a permanent print on a print medium is a fine powdery substance packed in a cartridge, which is known as the printer toner.

What is printer toner?

To put it simply, a toner is a chromophoric agent used in laser printers. It consists of four components: colour pigments, synthetic resin, magnetisable metal oxides, and some small quantities of releasing agents, such as silicone and wax. The mixing ratio of these components may differ depending upon the manufacturer, but certain things are fixed. For instance, the particle size of the toner powder should be between 5 and 30 micrometres. Also, to facilitate the proper flow of toner it is packed in a way that it acts like a liquid.

printer toner

What are some salient properties of toner powder?

The polymer used for toner powder varies according to the manufacturer, but the most varying details are the melting point, formulation and the granule size. Initially, powder size used to be 15 micrometres or more. However, nowadays, the particle size of as low as 5 micrometers are used to improve image resolution. Also, small particle size ensures better colour mixing, good ink coverage, more accurate colour gradient, and thin application.

Toner cartridges are available for monochrome and color laser printers. Monochrome printers use Black color toner powder, whereas colour printers use four-colour printing system of CMYK colors. Here, K stands for ‘Key Plate’ and designates Black color, while C is for Cyan or Blue, M for Magenta or Red, and Y for Yellow.

Toner printer color

How toner cartridge works?

The process of laser printing is pretty complex because only a toner cartridge is sometimes made of nearly 50 moving parts. However, there are 6 major components that facilitate the proper functioning of a toner cartridge. These components prevent the printer toner from jamming, fading and leaking. The interplay and function of these components is described in the picture below. Each one of these components must be in proper condition to make sure that you keep getting good quality prints.

Toner cartridge components

What is the right toner cartridge for a printer?

There are a lot of toner cartridges you can choose from, but it is better to go to the printer manufacturer website and find the right toner for the model of your laser printer. Users who are searching for more economical options can opt for refilled and rebuilt toner cartridges. There are also new-built toner cartridges which are usually manufactured by third-party manufacturers.

Needless to say, quality of the print can differ from a little to a lot depending upon the manufacturer of the toner cartridge. Therefore, we would recommend using the original toners from your device manufacturer. These toners are considered as the best toners for a printer because they offer a balanced colour mixture and the most dependable adhesion on the print medium.

Toner cartridge original

What are the risks of handling printer toner?

Some users think that to reduce operational costs they should try to refill their toner cartridge. However, this action can have some serious risks. Toner powder is a fine powder, hence, its particles have the ability to remain suspended in the air for a long time and are prone to causing respiratory conditions. Also, research has found that these toner powder particles have carcinogenic properties, which are similar to those of asbestos. Therefore, it is strongly advised that users should never tamper with the packaging of a toner cartridge.

toner damage

What is replacement period for toner cartridge?

The page yield mentioned for a toner cartridge is calculated for 5% coverage per page. Therefore, when the printer indicates that a new cartridge is necessary you can still print some pages from the existing cartridge. However, it is advised that you should replace your cartridge as soon as it is empty. Nowadays, almost all printing devices show the level of toner left inside a cartridge in their printing program. Another way of determining the replacement time of your printer cartridge is when the printout is weaker in certain parts of the page.

How to replace the toner cartridge?

The process of replacing a toner cartridge is explained in detail in its device manual. If you don’t have that manual with you, then you should search the internet with ‘printer name + manual’ and you will get the device manual of your printer in PDF format. In monochrome laser printers, you will have to change only one toner, and for color laser printers you may have to change up to four toner cartridges or the empty ones.

The detailed procedure of toner cartridge replacement may differ based on the model of your printer, but generally, it starts by opening the hatch of our printer, taking out the empty toner,  unpacking the new toner, removing safeguards of the new toner, putting the new toner in its printer slot, and then ends by closing the hatch.

replace toner

How to remove toner stains?

When removing stains of toner from your skin or cloth you should always use cold water because warm water will soften the toner and strengthen its bond. You can also use an abrasive cleaner for removing toner from your skin. For cleaning carpets, you should first shake out the toner before washing because vacuum cleaners are incapable of cleaning fine toner dust.

How to properly dispose toner cartridge?

Preferably, toner cartridges should be sent to recycling centres, you should never try to dispose of cartridges with other household waste. Since many cartridges have parts which can be reused in future cartridges, you will find several websites which are ready to pay yours for disposing of your empty cartridges.

dispose toner


This is the comprehensive information you will require understanding what printer toner is.

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