6 Epoxy Resin Safety Precautions You Should Be Taking
The formal definition of art is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination,” according to the Oxford Dictionary. This broad definition allows us to make art in many ways, from traditional methods, such as carving stone, to more modern methods, such as crafting epoxy resin.
Epoxy resin is a versatile medium that you can use to make almost anything imaginable. From jewelry to coasters to tables, artists love to use epoxy resin to bring their projects to life. However, if you’re new to epoxy resin, you should know that there are some safety precautions you should be taking. We explain the six most important precautions to take below, so you’re ready when the creative juices start flowing.
Work in a Well-Ventilated Space
Once you decide to use epoxy resin in your next creative project, you need to create a safe, designated workspace. The most important part of this designated workspace is the ventilation. Concentrated epoxy resin vapors can cause respiratory irritation, but a well-ventilated workspace can prevent those vapors from building up.
There are various ways to build a well-ventilated workspace. Start with natural air. If possible, open a window or two. Next, focus on moving the air within the room with a ceiling or floor fan. Even a small tabletop fan can help keep air moving and safe as you work.
Wear a Respiratory Mask
A well-ventilated space isn’t the only respiratory safety precaution that you should take when you start working with epoxy resin. You should also wear a respiratory mask while you work. The ideal respiratory mask should have an organic vapor cartridge to protect you from vapors, but it should also protect you from dust. Many people sand down cured epoxy resin projects for a better finish. While this is a great, safe way to improve your project, it’s only safe if you’re wearing a mask that can filter dust. The best masks for these applications advertise themselves as dust/mist masks or respirators.
You may need two separate masks, one with the organic vapor cartridge and one that can handle dust. While this may seem like a large investment, especially if you’re just learning how to make epoxy resin art, it is necessary. Breathing in chemical vapors or epoxy dust can harm your respiratory system and make you sick.
Protect Your Skin
Unfortunately, the safety precautions don’t end with air. You must also protect your skin when working with epoxy resin. The chemicals within epoxy resin can irritate bare skin, so you need to wear gloves that can withstand these strong chemicals. Most latex gloves don’t provide enough protection, as they’re designed to protect against germs, not chemicals. Disposable safety gloves made from nitrile or vinyl are often the best to protect your skin from epoxy resin.
If you’re prone to spills, prefer to work with skin showing, or want to protect your clothes, you also need other forms of skin protection. Many people wear plastic aprons that can protect the rest of their skin and clothes from epoxy resin spills.
If epoxy resin does get on your skin or clothes, use a waterless, non-solvent skin cleanser to remove it from skin or a skin-safe cleanser on clothes. Using a solvent to cleanse your skin could drive the resin further into your skin, causing irritation. Ultimately, resin is not water soluble, which is why you need an alternative cleanser to soap and water. However, most hardeners are water-soluble, so you can wash the hardener off with a combination of skin-safe cleanser and water.
Protect Your Eyes
You must also protect your eyes when working with epoxy resin. Many people choose to wear safety goggles since they completely surround your eye. However, you can also wear safety glasses. Both protect your eyes from splashing liquids and potentially dangerous fumes that could cause eye irritation.
Some people think that if they’re wearing prescription glasses or sunglasses, then their eyes are protected. This is not the case. Prescription eyewear or a fun pair of sunglasses are meant to help you see better, not to protect your eyes from splashing liquids or fumes. Most eyewear does not fit close enough to your eyes to adequately protect them. Wearing safety goggles or glasses on top of your prescription eyewear is the only way to guarantee efficient eyesight and eye safety. Most people find it more comfortable to wear contacts instead of glasses when they wear protective eyewear, but the choice is yours as long as you keep your eyes safe.
Watch What You Mix
Now that you’re suited up and safe, you can start mixing your epoxy resin and creating your art. Before you get caught up in your artistic endeavors, though, you must consider what you’re mixing into your epoxy resin. Some materials, such as acrylic paint, do not mix well into epoxy resin, as they can prevent it from curing. If your epoxy resin can’t cure properly, then it will continue to release dangerous fumes.
Instead, research the materials you want to mix in or embed in your epoxy resin project. If you want to add color, then you can use mica powder, resin dye, or food coloring. If you want to create a specific effect, such as extra shine or a hidden object, then you can use glitter or plastic objects.
Cure in a Well-Ventilated Space
As we mentioned above, you need to be wary of fumes when making your epoxy resin art and letting it cure. Epoxy resin releases dangerous chemicals when you mix it together and leave it to cure. These chemicals can cause respiratory irritation, which we mentioned above. Therefore, allow your epoxy resin project to cure in a well-ventilated space, so these chemicals don’t build up and cause irritation or sickness when you approach the area.
These six safety precautions you should be taking with epoxy resin allow you to safely make the art of your dreams. Don’t let these safety precautions and warnings prevent you from doing the art you love. The more you use epoxy resin, the more comfortable you will feel with this medium.
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