Food Safety and Epoxy Resin: Is epoxy resin food safe? This article has everything you need to know about safety of epoxy resin! Keep reading…
Epoxy resin is popular because you can use it for several applications on different materials, including wood, metal, brick, and concrete.
Its popularity has grown so much that consumers now use it to customize utensils, furniture, and several little trinkets at home.
Using epoxy resin at home and so close to the areas where we eat or store our food is a cause for concern for many homeowners.
Hence the question, Is Epoxy Resin Food Safe?
Whether or not epoxy resin is food safe solely depends on the brand you purchase.
Each epoxy manufacturer uses a different set of chemicals to make their product, depending on what kind of properties they want the product to possess.
Some chemicals are outright harmful, while others are non-toxic and safe around food.
Therefore, you must always ensure that the epoxy you purchase has a label that shows it complies with worldwide food safety regulations.
Labels aside, the physical state of epoxy resin also determines whether it will be food safe or not.
Liquid epoxy straight from the container is still harmful, even if the package is labeled “food-grade.”
Therefore, you must ensure that it is fully cured before allowing it to contact your food, beverages, or skin.
Looking out for labels will help you select a food-safe epoxy resin.
However, you should also know other essential things regarding the resin application and usage of items after the epoxy cures.
Therefore, in the next section, I’ll discuss epoxy resin in depth and how to use it safely on items that come into contact with your food.
Table of Contents
What Is Epoxy Resin
Epoxy resin is a plastic polymer that consists of two liquid components – a resin and a hardener.
A chemical reaction occurs when you mix the liquids, producing heat that causes the resin to solidify.
The film formed is strong and durable and can’t revert to its liquid form even under high temperatures.
Unlike most thermoplastics, epoxies degrade instead of melting under high temperatures.
As you shop for epoxy, you will notice products are labeled either “Epoxy Casting Resin” or “Epoxy Coating Resin.”
It is important to note them because they have different characteristics that make them suitable for different kinds of resin work.
Casting Resins have a thin consistency that is ideal for pouring into molds.
They can fill even the tiniest cavities making them perfect for making small homewares, jewelry, and other memorabilia.
Their low viscosity also allows any bubbles formed as you mix the components to rise to the top where you can pop them.
This type of epoxy produces very little heat as you prepare it for application.
Therefore, it takes more time to reach a soft cure – the stage where you can handle drying resin without damaging it.
On the bright side, the little heat also reduces the risk of the resin cracking or yellowing as it cures.
A Coating resin is more viscous and designed for use on flat surfaces like tabletops and resin artwork.
It forms a thick, glossy coating over items, enhancing their beauty and protecting them from physical damage.
Its thickness also prevents it from running over the edge of the surface too quickly, giving you time to spread it evenly over the surface.
When you mix coating epoxies, it is normal for bubbles to form in the product due to its thickness.
Luckily, you can pop them after pouring the resin on the surface because the coat formed won’t be any more than 3mm thick.
Uses of Epoxy Resin
Epoxy resins are used in many industries because of their resistance to heat, chemicals, and water, which makes them quite effective at preventing material degradation over time.
Below is an in-depth look into how each industry benefits from epoxy resin.
Epoxy resins are integral to producing, transforming, and distributing many types of renewable and non-renewable energy.
For instance, they’re used to manufacture the blades of wind turbines because they are lightweight and have high mechanical strength.
They are also used to coat the steel on wind turbines and protect the structures in hydroelectric power plants from saltwater corrosion.
Building and Construction
In construction, builders use epoxies as adhesives for structural parts or as joint materials for tiles.
They also come in handy as finishing coats or putties for repairing surface cracks in wood and concrete.
Since construction requires different materials at different times, epoxies are ideal because they can adhere to many surfaces, including wood, glass, brick, and metal.
Epoxy resin is crucial in wood flooring projects, especially in food-processing and medical facilities requiring consistent sterilization.
It is durable; thus, it can withstand regular cleaning with strong cleaning chemicals.
Automotive and Transportation
In this industry, practitioners use epoxy adhesives and coatings to join metal parts and prevent rust from forming on them (respectively).
The strength of the adhesives keeps your vehicle from falling apart, while the coatings’ durability keeps off UV damage for a long time.
The rail and marine sectors also use epoxies to replace key components in their machines, thus reducing the auto’s overall weight.
They also resist other degrading elements, thus lengthening the service life of boats and trains.
Epoxy resins also come in handy in aircraft systems as a binder for reinforcements such as carbon and glass.
The reinforcements make the fiber materials strong but lightweight, thus contributing to the overall durability and performance of the planes.
The Art Industry
Epoxy resin has given artists even more room to get creative while ensuring that their creations remain intact for a long time.
You can color it, then use it to replicate shapes or figurines or embed small items in it artistically to create beautiful 3D art.
Pros and Cons of Epoxy Resin
Some of the advantages are:
- It Is Durable
The film formed after epoxies harden is so tough that it is difficult to dent or chip.
It is also flexible enough to bend without breaking and can move along with the surface material as it expands and contracts.
These features are what make epoxy resin last long on any surface.
- It Is Chemically Stable
After curing, epoxy resin shows excellent resistance to acids, harsh cleaning solvents, and alkaline salts.
It is perfect to use in areas with constant chemical contact because it won’t discolor or degrade.
- It Shrinks Very Little as It Cures
Epoxy resins lose between 1-5% of their volume as they cure, and for most applications, the volume reduction is undetectable.
However, you may notice the shrinkage if you are keen enough for applications where you need to fill voids such as cracks and knots in the wood.
Luckily, you can purchase epoxy brands with filers to solve this problem.
- It Is Customizable
Epoxy resin is a clear product, but you can add some colorants if you want to create some art or a customized surface finish.
You can also leave it clear and embed items like flowers, beads, riverbed rocks, coins, pictures, etc., to preserve them in a clear glass-like block.
- It Is versatile
The major advantage of epoxy resin is its ability to stick to any fiber.
You can use it on wood, glass, brick, concrete, or even fabric without worrying about adhesion failures like with other surface coatings and adhesives.
- It Takes Long to Cure
Epoxy resin takes several days to cure, and you cannot use your item before that happens.
This waiting time can stall your projects, and if you try to use the item before the time elapses, you will ruin your work.
Typically, epoxies take 7-30 days to cure, depending on your work area’s temperature and other atmospherical surroundings.
- It Has an Odor
Epoxy resin produces a foul odor as you apply it, making your working conditions unpleasant.
The ideal way to deal with this is to wear a mask during application to avoid the odor.
If you are working indoors, the odor could linger for some time; thus, it is best to ensure that your space is well-ventilated to keep fresh air flowing.
- It Is Slippery When Wet
Epoxies are waterproof, but this feature can be a disadvantage, especially on horizontal surfaces such as floors.
When water or any other liquid falls on an epoxy floor, it will pool up in some places, causing the floor to be slippery.
If you do not see and clear up the pools, they can cause accidental falls.
- It Degrades When Exposed to UV
Most surface coatings discolor or turn yellow when exposed to sunlight for a long time.
However, epoxy degrades, meaning it will lose its protective abilities over time.
For this reason, it is best to use epoxy on surfaces that will stay shaded than on surfaces that will remain outdoors for long periods.
Can You Drink Out of Epoxy Resin Cups?
You can drink from an epoxy cup, provided the epoxy used is food-grade and FDA-approved.
Usually, people use epoxy to line the outside of cups to insulate and decorate them.
This way, the beverage stays safely inside the cup, away from the epoxy.
If you are worried about your lips touching part of the epoxy coating as you take a sip, leave 1/4 top part of the cup uncoated.
You can also use straws for drinking instead of direct sips.
If you molded the cup from scratch using epoxy, it is still safe to drink out of it, provided you follow two simple rules.
First, you must ensure that the resin is fully cured before putting any liquid in it. Second, you must never put hot beverages in the cup. Let me elaborate.
Liquid epoxy is toxic and only becomes safe after it cures – even the food-safe epoxies. So, don’t hurry to drink from a newly molded cup that hasn’t cured properly.
If you pour a liquid in epoxy that isn’t fully cured, there is a great risk of chemicals leaching into the liquid.
If the drink is hot, the chances of chemicals leaching increase twofold.
Consequently, you will ingest the chemicals and put your health at risk.
Even though drinking from a cured epoxy cup is possible, I do not recommend it.
The reason is that epoxy degrades over time and starts flaking off.
If it flakes while in contact with your drink, you’ll swallow chemicals, putting your health at risk.
Is Epoxy Safe for a Cutting Board?
You can use epoxy on a cutting board if the board is purely decorative or used for light cutting jobs like a charcuterie board.
If you want to epoxy a cutting board that you use every day to chop up your meat and vegetables, I discourage you from doing so because of four reasons:
You Will Damage the Epoxy
When you prepare food on your cutting board daily, the consistent chopping, cutting, and washing will cause the epoxy to wear out quicker than it should.
It will start to chip off slowly, and at some point, you may end up gouging out a massive chunk of the cured epoxy.
Eventually, the board will look cloudy and horrible, unlike when the resin is still fresh.
Epoxy Chips Will End Up In Your Food
As the epoxy breaks down due to the constant cutting, little particles could break away and contaminate your food.
If you continue ingesting the little bits daily, you will risk your health and your family.
It Encourages Food Cross-Contamination
The most significant cause of food poisoning is the cross-contamination of foods during preparation, and the origin is often the chopping board. Take meat, for instance.
Proper practice dictates that you should wash your cutting board after preparing meat on it before using it for another job.
If the board has chipped or scratched epoxy, the meat juices will seep into those spaces and be challenging to remove.
These juices are often in small quantities, so many people do not notice them after cleaning the boards.
Eventually, you will start to notice people in your home getting sick all the time until you replace the board.
The Epoxy Will Dull You Knives
Using epoxy on a cutting board will also ruin your knives. Since the cured film is strong and hard, it can be hard on the cutting blades causing them to dull faster than usual.
So, if you value your knives or hate the process of sharpening them over and over, avoid using epoxy on cutting boards.
How to Apply Epoxy to Wood Surface
Wood is a material that gets a lot of benefits from epoxy resin – from waterproofing its surface to making the wood grain stand out.
It is also the most widely used building material in homes; thus, knowing how to apply epoxy to wood is a must-have skill.
Below are the steps to guide you along.
Step 1: Sand the Wood and Prepare the Work Area
If your wood is too rough or uneven, use sandpaper to knock down the raised spots and make the surface smooth.
- Start with 120-grit sandpaper (coarse grit), then move on to finer 180 or 220-grit sandpaper to remove the large scratches left by the coarse grit paper.
- Ensure that you sand along the wood grain for best results.
After sanding, wipe off the dust and dirt from the surface with a clean microfiber cloth or use a mini vacuum.
- I recommend that you wipe the dust with a damp cloth to ensure that no traces of the dust remain. Alternative, you can use a shop vac.
If you do not remove all the dust, it will get trapped under the epoxy, causing adhesion issues and bubbles to form.
If you choose the damp cloth, ensure that you dry the wood before proceeding.
Next, cover a large flat surface like a worktable or floor with plastic to protect it from drips.
Secure the plastic with painter’s tape, so they do not move as you work.
Set your wood on the covered flat surface, then put painter’s tape along its back perimeter to catch drips.
Ensure that you press the tape down firmly to prevent the epoxy from leaking under it.
Finally, prop up the wood with wooden blocks or metal containers, so it does not touch the workbench.
Step 2: Mix the Epoxy
Before you open the epoxy containers, ensure that your workspace is well-ventilated and dust-free.
The reason is that epoxies tend to have a strong smell; therefore, you need good air circulation to prevent the odor from building up.
You must also wear a mask, protective goggles, and gloves to prevent skin and eye irritation by the epoxy.
Next, measure the epoxy components in separate disposable cups, following the precise instructions of your product.
Different epoxies require different ratios of resin and hardener to cure and work properly.
Therefore, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid problems like sticky epoxy.
After measuring the components separately, combine them in one big cup, then use a plastic or wooden rod to stir them together.
- Stir gently to keep bubbles from forming in the mixture and keep stirring for 3-5 minutes to ensure they are well combined.
- If you notice air bubbles forming, don’t worry because you can remove them later with some heat.
Step 3: Apply the Epoxy
Immediately after mixing the ingredients, pour the epoxy over the middle of the wood carefully.
It is best to pour it as soon as you mix it because it will start to harden soon afterward.
- You can also pour thin streams of epoxy all over the wood instead of starting in the middle.
Use a foam brush to spread the product over the wood surface in back and forth motions.
Try and create a layer that is as even as possible, ensuring that the whole board gets coated.
- Wipe off any excess product with the foam brush before proceeding.
Air bubbles are common when pouring epoxy, but luckily you can remove them with some heat.
For this part, you can use a heat gun, a torch, or a hairdryer at their lowest heat settings.
- Turn on the heat source and hold it at least 6 inches from the surface.
- Move it back and forth slowly over the bubbled areas until you see them pop. Avoid holding the heat source in one place for a long time because you will burn the epoxy.
Allow the first coat to harden for 4 hours or as instructed by the manufacturer.
It will feel a little tacky, but it is the best time to apply a second coat.
- Mix the ingredients as you did before, then pour the mixture over the wood.
- This time, use a spatula or any straight and hard surface to spread the epoxy. The straight-hard tool will make the finish more even than a foam brush.
Finally, give the epoxy 24-36 hours before removing the painter’s tape. At this stage, the resin will have hardened enough to touch.
- Even though the finish is hard, give your wood at least one week to cure before putting it to use. Also, avoid touching the surface as the epoxy is hardening to avoid ruining it.
Here’s How to Apply Epoxy Resin On Wood:
Factors Affecting the Drying Time of Epoxy Resin
While epoxy may take 7-30 days to cure, your item may be dry enough for some light use in about 24 hours.
However, you must be cautious because these time frames will vary between brands depending on one primary environmental factor – Temperature.
Let me explain how temperature affects the drying time of the epoxy resin.
Heat speeds up the chemical reactions of the two epoxy components causing them to cure faster.
Therefore, it is no surprise that epoxies will dry faster in warmer temperatures.
Most epoxy brands recommend applying them when the temperature is at 25°C or warmer.
At this level, the epoxy will dry in about 9-12 hours. If the temperature is cooler than 25°C, the epoxy will require 12-18 hours to dry.
Ensure that you maintain your work area and product’s temperature between 22°C-25°C before mixing the epoxy and throughout the curing period.
If you had stored the epoxy in an area with temperatures cooler than 22°C, you must bring it to your workspace and allow it to acclimate to the right temperature before proceeding.
Allowing the epoxy to “acclimate” means allowing its temperature to rise until it matches your work area.
You can use a small space heater with a thermostat if you want to warm up your work room and the epoxy quickly.
However, you should remember that not all thermostats are 100% precise. Therefore, you must set the temperature a few degrees warmer to keep it close to accurate.
If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned humidity as a factor that affects epoxy drying time, here’s the reason:
- Humidity primarily affects the aesthetic appearance of epoxy after it cures, but it has no significant effects on dry time.
When there is too much moisture in the atmosphere, it embeds into the epoxy as it cures, causing the finish to look cloudy instead of clear.
This issue is hard to notice as the finish is curing, only becoming apparent after it dries.
Since you cannot notice the problem before the epoxy sets, maintaining a consistent humidity level throughout is the best thing to do.
Ideal humidity levels for applying epoxy resin should be between 50%-60%.
You can get away with humidity a little higher than 60% but make sure that it stays below 80%
How to Make Epoxy Resin Dry Faster
If waiting long hours for the epoxy resin to dry and cure will stall your project, you can employ the following simple measures to hasten the process.
Purchase a Product With a Faster Curing Time
Several quick-drying epoxies on the market today dry in half the time as ordinary epoxies.
These products contain fast-acting curing agents that start hardening merely minutes after pouring.
However, I do not recommend using fast-action epoxies if you’re new to using resins because the curing time is significantly reduced.
You are prone to making mistakes and ruining your project because of the less work time.
Pre Heat Your Materials
Another way to speed up epoxy drying time is to heat your materials before starting the project.
You can place the resin bottles in a container of warm water for a few minutes before mixing and pouring. You can also pour the epoxy, then heat it with a hair drier before spreading.
If you choose the second heating method, ensure that you apply the heat uniformly to avoid cracking the finish.
Adjust Your Room’s Temperature
You can use a small heater to adjust your room temperature if you notice that your epoxy s taking too long to dry.
You can go a little past the usual 25°C but not past 30°C. If you don’t have a modern heater, you can use a heat lamp instead.
Things to Avoid When You Want to Speed Up Epoxy’s Drying Time
- Don’t use more hardener when mixing the components because it will not help speed up the cure time.
Instead, it will throw off the delicate mixing ratio the manufacturer recommended. Consequently, the epoxy will remain sticky indefinitely.
- Do not replace your hardener with another one from another brand, even if it brags of a quicker drying time.
Manufacturers design every resin-hardener pair to work together, and interchanging brands could lead to terrible results.
- Don’t add any drying agents or solvents to the epoxy because you might end up with a coating that won’t cure.
Epoxy resin is the go-to product for giving everyday items stunning makeovers, no matter the material.
They have become so popular that people now use them for home applications such as decorating trays or charcuterie boards and sealing kitchen tops for a beautiful look.
The introduction of epoxy resin to residential applications has brought about satisfactory results.
Nevertheless, the main concern remains whether the resin can directly contact food without affecting health, which is why people ask…
Is Epoxy Resin Food Safe?
You can only consider epoxy resin food safe if it has passed all the necessary tests to check for food safety regulations compliance.
Therefore, when shopping for epoxy, look for brands with a mark or seal that says, “Food safe” or “Food grade.”
Moreover, you must remember that even food-safe epoxy resin will still be toxic before it cures.
For this reason, you must never allow any food to come into direct contact with epoxy resin before it cures (This could take 7-30 days depending on the product you used).
Thank you for reading this article, and I hope you’re satisfied with the information. If you need me to clarify anything, please feel free to reach out in the comments.