Markers are comprised of three main elements;
1) a colourant or pigment
2) An organic or non-polar solvent, often an ethyl-acetate base.
3) A resin or polymer to allow for dispersion and adhesion.
The main variation between whiteboard, or more technically 'dry-erase', makers and permanent markers is the resin used. Permanent markers use an acrylic based resin/polymer, similar to one used in house paints, that give the markers a thick and wet appearance. Dry-erase markers use an oil-based resin that prevent adhesion to non-porous surfaces.
Whiteboard markers can be used on any porous surface (paper, cardboard, etc) and it will remain permanent. However, given time dry-erase ink pigments may set onto the non-porous surface becoming stubborn and leaving behind a stain. We recommend always cleaning off your dry-erase surface after use using a product like White Boardclene to keep surfaces fresh.