We aren’t even going to dilly dally today. That’s right, I said it. We are hopping straight into resin. In this post I intend to tell you every single thing you should know about resin. It’s no secret that resin is growing in popularity by the minute. Crafts, tumblers, floors, tables, and chairs….you can use it for so many things. You can put tons of things in it, you can craft, sculp, and pretty much create to your little heart’s desire.
Now, let’s talk all about resin!
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What is resin?
The resin we are talking about is actually a synthetically created viscous substance that ultimately becomes a rigid polymer once it has cured.
Aside from the scientific mumbo jumbo, resin was originally created for adhesive purposes. It was designed to mimic naturally occurring sticky resin that secretes from plants and trees. On a much stronger level of course.
In fact, the first resins ever used were natural pine resin. The Mongols used it to create the first ever composite bow. At the time, it was one of the world’s most intimidating weapons.
Today, most synthetic resins are used for coating and casting.
What can I do with resin?
You can make crafts of all kinds of course. This is one of the most popular uses for resin in modern day.
Also, resin is widely used for self level flooring and construction projects as well.
If you’re looking for a little craft inspiration you can check out my post about 20 resin crafts to make and sell online.
You also can color resin with lots of things. Some artists like to use mica powder, polymer clay, glitter, or alcohol ink.
I actually have compiled a list of things you can color resin with.
Which resin should I use?
This honestly depends on what your goal is with the resin. Are you patching up a boat, sealing a floor, or casting an art piece? It all depends.
There are multiple types of resin and each of them is best suited for its intended purpose. Epoxy resin is probably the most common form of resin that is used by artists.
If you’re wanting to make key-chains, dioramas, paper weights, coasters, or figures then epoxy resin is what you’d want.
Otherwise there are multiple other types of resin that serve different purposes. I will go over them here.
Types of Resin
Here is a list with explanations of each type of resin. You may or may not use all of these in your daily life. Some of them you may have used without realizing it.
Used in adhesives, plastics, paints, and coatings. Epoxy resin is relatively heat resistant. Epoxy resin requires mixing before use and hardens quite fast. It is water resistant and less toxic than other forms of resin. It is used widely for crafts of all kinds. (In fact I wrote a blog post about resin for crafts and figuring out what kind of resin you need.)
Much more flexible with a higher resistance to heat. Known for having a lower cost than other types of resin. This type of resin is most often used in construction and manufacturing of various components. It is also used in things like skis or fishing poles.
This is the most common type of resin. Around 100 million tons of it are produced annually. It is resistant to many things such as chemicals, water, and more. It is widely used in packaging which includes things like: shrink film, bags, sheeting, and tubing.
AKA Phenol formaldehyde resins were the first synthetic resins used commercially. These resins are best known for production of molded products like counter tops or billiard balls. This resin is highly toxic if inhaled or absorbed by the skin. It can also cause severe burns. It has mainly industrial uses.
A form of transparent thermoplastic that can be heated, bent, and molded into shape without physical effects. This resin is produced from acids. Acrylic resin is known for its high transparency and is used widely in lenses and coatings.
Is used primarily in paints and varnishes. It also is used as a binder in oil-based coatings. Alkyd is a polyester resin modified with fatty acids and other ingredients.
Does not contain BPA and is used in medical equipment, toys, filament, and other items. This type of resin can be sterilized. It is similar to polyethylene but is harder and more heat resistant.
This resin can be solid or foam. It is clear, inexpensive, and brittle. Polystyrene is often used in disposable dinner ware. You may know it as Styrofoam. This resin is deemed a possible carcinogen (Cancer causing). This is mainly due to the difficulty to dispose of it properly. Styrene is toxic and when burned releases gas that can be absorbed into the skin and inhaled.
Also known as PC resin. This resin is designed for its enhanced strength and temperature resistance. This form of resin is used in lenses, protective gear, and automotive parts. Polycarbonate has a decent clarity, but will yellow over time from exposure to UV light.
Strong, durable, and lightweight. These resins are known primarily for their use in the textile industry. Polyamide resin is used to make things like nylon and kevlar. You may have heard of kevlar vests. Kevlar vests have been improved to the point of being able to stop some high caliber bullets. Impressive stuff!
Silicone resin has excellent thermal stability. It is used in many applications to improve durability. Silicone resin is also used to make rubber-like molds. Epoxy resin does not stick to silicone and is often used in conjunction with it to create castings. I have a fun list of molds to use with epoxy resin!
This type of resin has a huge range of applications. It can be used for casting, coating, and more. Polyurethane resin cures very quickly and is extremely hard and versatile. Many types of additives can be introduced to polyurethane resin to enhance it. It is hazardous during the curing process.
What about UV resin?
UV resin is very similar to regular epoxy resin except it is cured quickly with the help of a UV device. Some people prefer to use UV resin for quick projects or fixes.
The downside to UV resin is that you’d need the UV device for it to work properly which costs a little extra. Other than that it makes a great alternative to traditional epoxy resin.
Resins are often toxic during the curing process. Due to the vapors and gasses emitted from resin it is highly recommended to take proper precaution when working with it.
(Resin is also VERY flammable. Use caution around flames or heat sources.)
What kind of safety equipment should I use?
Gloves should be used to protect yourself. Not only is resin very sticky, it is messy and can be absorbed into your skin. Depending on the type of resin you are working with you should avoid getting it all over your bare hands.
Wear a respirator. Resins can be toxic as they are curing. It will help you breathe much better when working with resin and also avoid inhaling toxic vapors.
You should also wear goggles to protect your eyes. Resin is very sticky and could quite literally hurt your eyes, glue them shut, or burn them severely.
In general it is recommended to handle or use resin in a well ventilated room or outdoors if possible. This isn’t always possible so you should use proper precautions as necessary.
If you are brand new to resin as a crafter or artist you may like to check out a post I wrote that features 9 superior tips for resin beginners to help you get off to the best possible start.
There are several tools to help make working with resin a much better experience. Especially if you are trying to make resin art.
- Silicone stirring sticks – A great non-stick solution for stirring and mixing resin.
- Silicone mats – The perfect work surface that resin will not stick to.
- Bubble removing tool – One of the best ways to remove unsightly air bubbles.
- Various grit sandpaper – Used for smoothing rough edges and polishing.
- Molds – Used to pour resin into to create a wide variety of creations.
These are just a few of the best tools to keep around if you’ll be focusing on making resin crafts.
If you’re wanting to make resin coated tumblers you may also want to invest in a cup turner. Cup turners are a tool that spins constantly so that the resin is able to stay on the tumbler surface without dripping.
If you’ve worked with resin at all or are considering it you probably have realized that resin is on the expensive side.
There actually is a good explanation for the high price of epoxy resin specifically. It is essentially made from volatile chemicals and expensive ingredients.
Only a highly trained staff can mix the solutions that yield resin as it has little to no room for error during manufacturing. I have explained the cost of resin in a recent post if you are interested to learn more.
It also depends on the amount of resin you are going to be using for your projects. Different types of resin have different costs associated with them as well.
It’s best to look around for deals and read reviews to find the best resin at a fair price. I personally have been using Naked Fusion’s Diamond Clarity resin recently and it has worked very nicely for what I’ve needed.
Resin Clean Up
Resin is outrageously sticky.
Have you ever got a little bit of white Elmer’s glue on your hand? It’s pretty sticky but you can basically wash it right off or wait for it to dry and just peel it off.
Imagine resin with a similar stickiness…except times it by 10.
Once resin hardens it’s essentially an industrial super glue that can ruin surfaces.
How do I remove resin from my hands?
The best thing to do is immediately wash with soap and water. Expect to scrub for a while under the warm water.
If that does not work you can also try dipping your hands in baking soda. You can rub your hands together so that the resin will clump up and start to come off.
Some also claim that vinegar can help loosen dried resin from your hands as well.
How do I remove resin from surfaces?
This can become tricky. Epoxy resin will bond with certain surfaces. It most definitely will bond with porous surfaces like wood.
If you get resin on a surface you can try to remove it with a bit of acetone on a cloth. Acetone can remove wet resin before it dries which is your easiest bet. Once resin has dried you can still use acetone but there may be more work involved.
(PSA: Acetone is extremely flammable. Do not use it near flames or heat sources.)
You can also try chipping away with a scraper tool, but you have to be careful not to chip your work surface.
If you want to avoid all of this trouble you can line your work surface with materials that epoxy resin does not stick to. Luckily I’ve written a blog post about that exact subject!
Check out “What does epoxy not stick to?” for a list with some explanations about each material.
I hope this post answers many of your resin questions!
Did you find this post helpful? Are there any other resin questions you’d love to have answered? Feel free to leave them in the comment section if so! Thanks for reading!