• A semi-transparent paper used to copy drawings, make rough sketches, mark out design patterns, and produce overlays.



  • Tracing paper requires lumber, bleach, sulfuric acid and other chemicals. One way of making tracing paper is beating pulp in water long enough to divide and hydrolyze the cellulose fibers. A more common option is soaking paper in sulfuric acid for a few seconds, causing some of the cellulose to convert to a gelatinous form.



  • Mechanical refining and pulping requires a huge amount of energy and water. Harsh chemicals are released into the environment during the manufacturing process. 3 When heated, sulfuric acid emits highly toxic fumes, which include sulfur trioxide. Sulfuric acid entering the environment contributes to the formation of acid rain which can have harmful effects on plants and animals. 5


Human Health

  • Sulfuric acid endangers workers in manufacturing since it can cause burns, irritate the nose and throat, and cause difficulties breathing if inhaled. 5 Finished tracing paper is safe during normal use.


Safe Use and Exposure

  • Do not eat while using tracing paper. Wash hands after use. Do not roll joints with tracing paper to avoid exposure to any remnants of sulfuric acid.


Proper disposal

  • Recycle all paper. Donate partially used pads of paper to Pratt’s recycling initiative.


Safe Alternatives

  • Some tracing paper is 100% recyclable like Gateway Natural Translucent brand. Look for FSC certified products.



  1. Use of mechanical refining to improve the production of low-cost sugars from lignocellulosic biomass
  2. Tracing Paper Manufacturing | arjowiggins
  3. Tracing Paper: Production | America Pink
  4. What is the history behind tracing paper? | Innovate Us
  5. Sulfur Trioxide & Sulfuric Acid | ATSDR