The increased availability of epoxy resin in recent years has led to it being used for many different types of home, commercial, and artistic projects throughout the United States. It is cost-effective, incredibly strong, and has a glasslike appearance that makes it an attractive sight.
However, because of this, there are many newcomers working with epoxy who may not be familiar with how to safely handle epoxy in its resin form. This article will cover safe practice using epoxy resin so you can complete your project without worry.
First of all, what is epoxy or epoxy resin?
Epoxy resin is the uncured form of epoxy, a sturdy type of transparent plastic. The resin starts off in a thick liquid state, generally separated into two components: resin and hardener. When these components are mixed together, a chemical reaction begins to generate heat, bonding them. This process is called curing.
As curing continues, the mixed resin will harden, eventually becoming fully solid, with high durability and impact resistance, along with a transparent glasslike finish. This final form is what we simply call "epoxy".
Is uncured epoxy resin safe to use?
Epoxy resins are relatively safe to use. Prior to curing, when epoxy is still in its resin form, it is a mild skin irritant. Though it varies between each individual person, consistent direct exposure to skin can cause rashes or inflammation in those areas. There are also rare instances of occupational asthma as a result of regular epoxy use over a long period of time.
Perhaps you want to build an epoxy countertop or create resin art; maybe you're not sure and just want to experiment. Regardless, safety is paramount. Fortunately, these issues are easily avoidable, as explained below.
How to be safe when using clear epoxy resin
When working with epoxy resin, we recommend that you wear gloves for your project. It's possible to avoid any skin contact even without gloves, as there is no reason to intentionally touch the epoxy, but it's best to avoid potential mistakes.
A pair of butyl gloves will provide the most protection while still being flexible enough for precise movements. If you can't acquire butyl gloves, you can also use nitrile gloves for your project. Nitrile is protective, but overtime it can absorb small amounts of the epoxy, eventually causing light skin contact, a concern for anyone with very sensitive skin.
If you'll be regularly working with epoxy for a few months or more, you can also wear a face mask for additional protection. For high filtration, consider N95 or KN95 masks. These are widely available online and at local stores in most regions.
Finally, it's always essential that you carefully read the instructions that come with any epoxy you purchase.
Is cured epoxy safe to use?
When epoxy is cured, it becomes inert. The reactions that brought it to this state are no longer active, and the epoxy itself is no longer considered an irritant. Skin contact is fine after this point. In fact, once fully cured, the epoxy is even food contact safe, though you shouldn't prepare food directly on it.
Cured epoxy is also very smooth, making it easy to clean and sanitize, a valuable trait these days. For comparison, porous materials such as wood or granite have tiny grooves and holes that can absorb or retain different particles and liquids which make them harder to clean.
Staying safe by buying epoxy from credible sources
There are many different brands of clear epoxy resin these days, and some of them won't meet the quality standards that make epoxy safe to use. It's important to buy from a trustworthy provider that meets these safety standards.
We at Ultra Clear Epoxy offer our own line of epoxies. We take pride in our products, which contain no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and which are produced to meet the needs of any project, whether it's commercial, domestic, or a means to express artistic creativity.
You can buy epoxy resin from us through our store. Our Ultra Clear table top epoxy resin can be used for most general purposes, such as protecting wood, covering countertops, and building epoxy table tops. Our Ultra Clear deep pour epoxy resin is specialized for pouring thick layers, usually for embedding objects, for creating epoxy art from larger molds, and as part of the process of creating river tables.
Planning a project? Questions on safety? Let us help!
If you want epoxy resin for a project of yours and would like help on knowing what supplies to buy, talk to one of our experts. We'll answer any questions you have about planning your project and help you determine what you need to reach your goal.
Call or email us here, or you can text chat with us by clicking the help button at the bottom right of your screen.
We also have a series of tutorial videos to show some of the fundamental steps to working with epoxy.