Clear epoxy resin is a crafting medium that can be used for thousands of different projects. Whether you want to make coasters, keychains, trinkets, jewelry, tabletops, or artwork, the possibilities are endless. If you’re new to resin or want to learn more, this post has all the basic information you need. Below, learn the steps for using resin and get some helpful tips for cleaning up and storing resin.
What is epoxy resin?
Resin is a type of clear polymer that becomes hard and durable when cured. Craft resin is actually composed of two parts – the resin itself (part A) and a hardening agent (part B). Two part epoxy resin is sold in two separate bottles. When these parts are mixed together, it creates a chemical reaction that causes the resin to become solid.
Neither the hardener nor the resin can be used alone – they remain in liquid form even if you leave them out in the air. Resin must be blended with a hardener in order to cure.
Mixing Resin: The Basics
The exact instructions for mixing resin can vary depending on which type or brand of resin you are using. The instructions in this blog are for the resin that we sell. If using a different brand of resin, check the manufacturer’s instructions. Ratios and blending instructions may vary.
Our resin uses a 50:50 mix of Part A (resin) and Part B (hardener) by volume, not weight. Regardless of the brand, two part epoxy needs to be mixed before you can use it for crafts.
When mixing, there are a few important things to keep in mind:
- The resin and hardener need to be fully blended. If the resin isn’t mixed thoroughly enough, the finished object may not harden completely.
- When mixing, try not to create excess bubbles. Good quality resin will de-aerate on its own, which basically means that most of the bubbles will dissipate without you having to do anything. However, even with the best epoxy resin, stirring too vigorously can create micro bubbles that remain in your finished product.
Resin Project Sizes
Before mixing resin, you’ll want to determine how much you need first. You don’t want to mix more than you need for the project at hand. Resin cannot be stored once it is mixed with the hardener. Even if it’s in a sealed container, it will harden over time.
Craft resin works best for projects that are relatively small in size. In order for the resin to cure properly, you will generally want to make objects that are no larger than 10.5 oz (300 grams) in size. Objects larger than this may be too thick to fully cure. However, it may depend on the shape and dimensions of your mold/project. If you are casting resin over a large surface, it’s usually fine to use a larger amount of resin, as it will typically spread thin enough.
Keep in mind that the larger your batch of resin is, the faster the chemical reaction will be when it is mixed. For example, you will have less time to work with a 10 oz batch of mixed resin than a 2 oz batch.
Supplies & Materials for Mixing Resin
Before starting, gather all of the materials you will need for your project. Here are some items you will want to have on hand:
Always wear gloves when mixing resin. It is also recommended that you wear personal protective equipment (PPE) like eye protection and a respirator mask. Resin can give off an odor while the chemical reaction is taking place as it hardens. Avoid inhaling any fumes and avoid letting liquid resin come in contact with your skin, as it can cause irritation or rashes. Once the resin is hard, it will not have an odor or cause skin irritation.
In addition to safety gear, you may want to use paper to cover your workspace. Resin can leave a reside on surfaces that is difficult to clean off.
You ideally should have 3 cups for measuring and mixing resin. Some people prefer to use an additional fourth cup to be extra sure the resin is fully mixed. However, we have not found this to be necessary with our resin.
You will need one cup for measuring Part A, one cup for measuring Part B, and a third cup for mixing the two parts together. Use clean, dry, straight-sided cups. For best results, use cups that have measurement lines on them. We love these 3 oz measuring cups for measuring resin.
Some people use plastic cups, while others prefer paper or silicone cups. Keep in mind that resin can be sticky and messy to clean up. You may choose to use disposable cups or reusable cups. In any case, do not use equipment that you want to use for food prep again (e.g. kitchen measuring cups). Once a tool has been used for resin, it should be used exclusively for crafts going forward.
You can use a popsicle stick, spatula, spoon, or essentially anything else to stir your resin. Ideally, you will want to use a non-porous material. Some resin crafters avoid popsicle sticks because they can potentially create micro bubbles in the finished project. However, we have tested popsicle sticks for stirring and found them to work great.
Resin Mold or Casting Surface
Clear craft resin works great when poured into a silicone mold. However, you can also use epoxy resin for wood tables and other similar materials. For example, resin can be cast over a table surface to embed objects, or used to protect artwork.
Colorants and Additives
You can color clear epoxy resin with mica powder, glitter, glow powder, fluorescent powder, liquid craft dye, and other similar materials. Find all of these colorants here! Our micro scoops work great for powdered colorants and glitters.
Heat Gun or Torch
Even when using the best epoxy resin for crafts, bubbles can still occur in your finished project. Most bubbles will pop by themselves, but as the resin starts to thicken, it becomes more difficult for bubbles to rise to the surface. Using a heat gun after pouring can help you eliminate bubbles that remain. Some people use butane torches to pop bubbles instead.
A Clean Workspace
During the curing process, you want to avoid letting dust and other debris come in contact with your resin. If you are worried about dust getting into your project, you can cover it with an upturned cardboard box or another similar setup. Make sure that whatever you’re using to cover the project doesn’t come in contact with the resin.
Steps for Mixing Resin
Tip: If the room temperature is cool (e.g. below 65 degrees F), place the resin bottles into a warm bath of water before starting. This will make it easier to measure and mix. Simply fill a dish with warm water and place the sealed bottles into the water for a few minutes. Do not allow water to get into the bottles. Note: Warming the resin will shorten your working time (the length of time you have before the resin begins curing).
Our resin uses a 50:50 mix of Part A (resin) and Part B (hardener) by volume, not weight.
Step 1: Put on your safety gear and create a clean workspace. Uncured resin can cause irritation or rashes if it gets on your skin. You may want to wear long sleeves in addition to appropriate PPE. To protect your workspace, you may wish to cover the area with paper.
Step 2: Pour Part A (resin) into a measuring cup. Be sure to measure by volume.
Step 3: Pour Part B (hardener) into a separate measuring cup, filling to the same level as Part A.
Step 4: After measuring Part A and B, pour both parts into a third cup. Scrape the sides of each cup to ensure all of the material gets mixed in.
Step 5: Gently stir the cup in one direction for 1-2 minutes. Then stir in the opposite direction for 1-2 minutes. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing cup. It’s also a good idea to scrape the resin off the stir stick once or twice and make sure it all gets stirred into the mixture. For best results, avoid lifting the stir stick out of the resin too much, as this can create small bubbles.
Step 6: Mix in any colorants or glitter you want to add. If using powdered colorants, try to break up any clumps before adding the powder. If using liquid dye, you need a very small amount. It may work best to add the dye with a toothpick when making small projects.
How to Pour Resin
After mixing your resin, you should have up to 30 or 40 minutes to work before it begins hardening. Keep in mind that times may vary if you are using a different brand of resin.
Before pouring, check the resin to see if it still has bubbles in it. If any bubbles remain, let the resin sit for 3-5 minutes to allow time for them to dissipate.
When you’re ready, simply pour the resin into your mold or other surface. If desired, use a heat gun or torch to pop bubbles that may remain in your project. Always hold a heat gun or torch a few inches from the surface of your work, and keep it moving rather than directing the heat at one spot for too long. Resin can become dimpled or even develop scorch marks if you have the heat too close to your project.
If any bubbles still remain on the surface, you can also pop them with a toothpick or needle. Check the surface from different angles to ensure that no bubbles remain. You won’t be able to do anything about bubbles after the resin cures.
How to Cure Resin
After pouring resin, all you need to do is let the resin sit undisturbed until it is hard. This is a process known as curing resin. Make sure dust and debris won’t fall into the project while it sets.
Craft resin will take 12 hours up to 3 days to become completely hard. Resin will cure faster in warm rooms compared to cold rooms. If the room temperature is cooler than 60 degrees F, it may take longer than 3 days.
Resin pieces can usually be removed from the mold as soon as they are hard, which may happen sooner than 12 hours depending on the size. Keep in mind that resin may continue to harden after removing it from the mold. If drilling, sanding, or polishing resin, it’s best to wait until you are sure it’s completely hard.
How to Clean Resin Tools and Your Workspace
To cut down on waste, you can reuse many resin tools by washing them. Always wear gloves and other appropriate PPE when cleaning resin tools. Liquid resin can cause irritation if it gets on your skin. Irritation can also occur when using the cleaning agents detailed below.
Any resin in your Part A and Part B measuring cups should remain in liquid form, as it has not been mixed together. Resin left over in your mixing cup will usually cure and harden, just like it would in a mold. To clean resin cups, start by wiping out any liquid with a paper towel before it sets up. Leftover resin that cures in the cup can usually be peeled or chipped off.
To clean Part A and Part B resin measuring cups, you may need to use denatured alcohol, acetone, or rubbing alcohol. These solvents can help break down the resin.
After removing as much of the residue as possible, you can clean the cups and tools further by washing them with soap and water. Do not wash any resin tools in the dishwasher. Any residue can damage your machine.
What can I do with leftover resin?
If you have any mixed resin left over, do not pour it down the sink or toilet. It will cause damage to your plumbing. Instead, try to get creative and use the resin to make small projects like a keychain charm or jewelry pendant.
If you can’t think of a way to use the leftover resin, pour it into a mold or disposable cup and let it harden. Do not throw mixed resin, the Part A resin, or the Part B hardener into the trash in liquid form.
Remember that leftover resin cannot be stored and reused at a later date if it has been mixed. It will harden after it is mixed.
How to Store Resin
Always store your resin bottles in a cool, dark place with the lids securely attached. Although this may sound obvious, it’s important that you always put the Part A lid on the A bottle, and the Part B lid on the B bottle. If you were to accidentally switch the lids, the resin may react and actually cure the lid shut.
Keep in mind that the Part B (hardener) will readily absorb vapor and humidity, which will cause the product to deteriorate. Although you should always seal both bottles shut tightly, it’s especially important to avoid exposing Part B to humidity. For the longest shelf life possible, put the lids back on as soon as you’re done pouring.
For best results, you should aim to use your resin up relatively quickly after opening the bottles. Resin should keep indefinitely when stored properly, but it is recommended that you use open bottles within 10-12 months for best results.