Whether you’ve worked with epoxy resin in the past or have just been learning about it, you will likely question the safety of using it indoors. When I first started using epoxy resin, I would have to use it inside the house. Looking back, I had to look into how to do this in a safe way.
Almost all epoxy resin sold today is safe for indoor use. This means the fumes will not be harmful but not always nonexistent and skin contact is unlikely to cause irritation. You should not worry too much since it is easy to take proper, simple precautions to ensure your safety.
While this is a simple answer for most people, it may help to know exactly what you will be dealing with. The reality is that there is a lot that goes into an epoxy resin being safe for indoor use which I will explain below and then offer guidance for you to get started using epoxy resin in your home. So, let’s take a closer look.
What Makes Epoxy Resin Safe (or Dangerous) for Indoor Use?
Oftentimes, people wonder why resin could be safe for indoor use. After all, this is a type of substance that you would never consume, and there are plenty of warnings on the label for using this product appropriately.
When it comes to using epoxy resin safely indoors, it really comes down to two primary dangers. The most noticeable of these is the fumes. Epoxy resin almost always puts off a scent when working with it. The other potential hazard of working with epoxy resin is physical contact. Epoxy resin is a chemical and therefore can irritate the skin.
Both of these concerns are warranted, but their effects can be avoided with the appropriate precautions put in place. Fortunately, these precautions are not overly complicated, but they can save you from having to take your project to open air where the temperature can fluctuate (and wreak havoc on your epoxy resin cure). Here is more information to help enlighten you on what the average dangers of fumes and skin contact with epoxy resin are.
If you have used epoxy resin indoors, you may have noticed that the scent can range from mild to highly potent. When most people question the safety of epoxy resin, they tend to be thinking about the fumes and assuming that those are highly harmful to them. After all, this is the most visible portion of the project that screams “danger, danger!” to some users.
Most epoxy resins sold today have minimal or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs are what would cause irritation in the nose, throat, and lungs. When an epoxy resin has low/no VOC’s it is deemed safe for use without worrying about the fumes coming out of it.
This means that if you are using an epoxy resin that has minimal or no VOCs, then the effects of the fumes are expected to be pretty minimal. Fortunately for you, you can take precautionary steps for the slight chance that these fumes are hazardous, but you should still not have to worry too much with modern epoxy resin.
Beyond fumes, a large concern for using epoxy resin is around the epoxy resin coming in contact with skin. Some people have bad reactions (resulting in a rash) to this, while others seem to be unaffected. The reality is that most people will not experience any issues with epoxy resin contacting their skin as long as they clean it off quickly.
Epoxy resin comes in two parts: a hardener and the epoxy. The hardener tends to have more of the compounds in it that cause reactions in people. To prevent any issues with skin contact, you should wear gloves when mixing and pouring epoxy resin.
Of course, this will be the same hazard indoors versus outdoors since the likelihood of the epoxy resin coming into contact with your skin does not necessarily increase by changing the location of where you are working with it. Still, it is important to note this hazard to allow for an appropriate setup that can help to eliminate any associated risks when using epoxy resin in an indoor setting.
5 Important Tips for Safely Using Epoxy Resin Indoors
Now that you know the two main potential hazards for using epoxy resin (fumes and skin contact leading to irritation), it is time to take a closer look at how to ensure safe use when using your epoxy resin indoors. Fortunately, using these tips can help your project to go a long way, and you can be confident in your safety (and the safety of those in your home) while working.
To help you maintain proper safety, I have assembled my top five tips for safely working with epoxy resin indoors. After dozens of pours in various types of rooms, basements, dining rooms, and the outdoors, I believe I know the simplest ways to ensure that you are staying safe.
By following the below tips, you can take preventative actions to set yourself up for success when attempting to safely use epoxy resin indoors. So, the next time you are wanting to use epoxy resin indoors, be sure to follow the below 5 tips to do this safely:
Make Sure Your Epoxy Has Low or No VOC’s
The first step to ensuring your safety is purchasing the right product. Many products on the market include information about whether or not they are safe for indoor use. Find an epoxy resin that has no VOCs for best results, but low VOCs can work as well.
While it is not generally hard to find a low or no VOC epoxy resin, please note that this does not mean there will not be a smell. Oftentimes low VOC epoxy resins can smell very strongly, and this odor will sit in your workspace for days or even a couple of weeks depending on other factors like ventilation (but more on that later).
If you are not sure where to begin, start by figuring out the type of resin you need. After all, there are various types of resin that should be used specifically for certain types of projects, so finding the right type and then finding one with little to no VOCs can help to make a more effective purchase.
If you are making art or smaller pieces, I recommend starting with ArtResin. ArtResin has been used by thousands of creators and has glowing reviews all around. I personally used ArtResin for a time when doing smaller projects as I was learning how to work with epoxy resin. Of course, there are other options, but this has been the most seamless and reliable type of resin that I have found for this purpose.
If you are creating a larger piece and need more or deeper-pouring epoxy, EcoPoxy FLowcast is going to be my top choice. EcoPoxy goes the extra mile to make sure they have one of the safest, most natural epoxy resins on the market.
This is important to me in terms of my own carefulness as well as being mindful of products that others might be interested in natural and safe components. Still, using natural here does not mean non-durable, as this product still stands the high-quality test.
Separate Your Workspace from Other Areas
Separating your workspace with epoxy resin is an incredibly important step- crucial in making sure that you do not contaminate other areas of your home- even if your epoxy resin has little to no VOCs. Even if your epoxy is safe and has no VOC – it could still leave a smell and won’t be food-safe until fully cured. Keeping your epoxy in a separate area of the house from where you eat, live, and sleep is the best option.
For this purpose (among a few other reasons), I recommend using a separate room when working with epoxy resin. This workspace could be a laundry room, basement, spare bedroom, sunroom, or whatever else you have available. If you don’t have an area that is truly “extra” in your living space, just try to keep the epoxy resin away from food areas and keep your workspace organized and clean.
This is also incredibly important if you have children or pets that are wandering around your home. It is important to keep them safe by keeping the epoxy resin in a secured location that is relatively inaccessible (or at least not right out in the front and center) from the rest of the unattended people and animals in your home.
Looking even further into it, epoxy resin often takes 2-5 days to fully harden. One of the reasons to separate your workspace from where you live is to allow your pieces to sit untouched for long periods of time while they cure. You wouldn’t want to have your art curing on a table and be inconvenienced while trying to have a family breakfast.
By creating a separate workspace with your epoxy resin, you are able to maintain the integrity of your project all while preventing hazardous (accidental) exposures to your epoxy wood project that you might not have expected.
Ventilate the Workspace
One of the best ways to ensure that you are utilizing epoxy resin safely is to keep a ventilated workspace. Regardless of where you chose for your working space, you will want to follow this step. Working with epoxy resin for an hour or more at a time can be a difficult task, especially if the air quality is poor.
Ventilation does not mean you have to install air purifiers and special vents – although you are welcome to if you are able to do so. Ventilation can be as simple as opening a window and turning on a fan. The primary reasons for ventilation is to minimize the scent and lower any exposure you may have to VOCs- even if the epoxy resin you are using has minimal VOCs.
When working with epoxy resin, I tend to open a window and have a small desktop fan blowing near (but not facing) the epoxy resin. My reason for keeping the fan away from the resin is the potential of ruining a piece of art. While it is unlikely that the fan would cause major issues, it could blow in small bits of dust or dirt which would show up in a clear epoxy or if on the surface.
Plus, you could accidentally bump it, or it could even run the (very slight) risk of adjusting the temperature in the room and affecting the curing time on the project. Regardless, you can avoid this by simply placing it elsewhere (but still keeping it in the room so the air keeps moving).
When I am done actively working with the epoxy resin, and it is time to cure, I turn off the fan and close the window to the workspace. As long as the workspace is cut off from anywhere you do not want the fumes going, this is perfectly fine to do.
You are free to leave the window open (and leave the fan on) if you desire to minimize fumes at all. Of course, be sure that you are checking on the weather to make sure that nothing extraneous is coming in from your room to get stuck into the epoxy resin. I prefer to open the window again after the piece is no longer sticky on top, but this is just a personal trick that might not be preferable for you.
Wear Gloves When Mixing and Pouring
Wearing gloves when mixing and pouring is one of the most straightforward but forgotten pieces of advice for those working with epoxy resin. Keeping a pack of disposable gloves at your workstation can be a lifesaver down the line.
Any time I am working with epoxy resin and I don’t wear gloves, without fail, I get epoxy resin on my hands. I have never had an issue due to this, but it does take time to clean epoxy off skin and usually requires a stronger cleaning substance. Using a pair of gloves can prevent the concern for epoxy resin on the skin, but can also save you a lot of time spent cleaning sticky hands during a project.
Of course, you will want to make sure that the gloves are thin enough that you can easily maneuver your hands while working with the epoxy resin. You can use thin protective gloves, and simply interchange them if you feel like you could use a newer (fresher) pair.
Wear a Mask or Respirator
While wearing a mask or respirator is not necessary given the safety of most epoxy resins today, it is important to remember that there is more than one factor in this decision. If you are using an epoxy resin that you aren’t sure about, I suggest at least using a disposable mask to be safe.
If you are worried about a reaction or sensitivity to epoxy, please be cautious and get a nice respirator. They are not too expensive and can work wonders- especially if your epoxy resin has low VOCs. As long as you get one that is used for paint, you should never have an issue with epoxy resin.
While I don’t tend to wear a mask for most pours, I am using epoxy resins that are tested and true, and I have a well-ventilated area. I would suggest feeling it out and if you have any irritation, consider getting a mask or respirator. It is most important to stay safe while having fun creating.