Thinking of hopping on the resin homeware trend? Be careful, as it can be toxic

From ashtrays to coffee tables, epoxy resin items are hugely popular on sites like Etsy and Amazon Handmade.

As a fairly inexpensive material – and one that can be mixed with all sorts of pigments and glitters – it’s understandable why crafters have decided to use epoxy resin to make their designs come to life.

However, it’s not quite as simple for us amateurs to get in on the trend.

While you’ll probably see videos of people making resin items on your TikTok For You Page or Facebook feed, it’s not a method that’s advised for everyone – and it can be dangerous to work with resin if you aren’t prepared.

Artist She Lyon posted on TikTok recently about her own experience with the crafting material, saying she hadn’t realised the health implications of using it.

In the video, she details how she was hospitalised after working with resin for six months without PPE, developing a sensitivity to it due to the prolonged exposure.

She Lyon’s story isn’t unique. Here’s why it’s important to take precautions when making products with epoxy resin.

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Is resin toxic?

Epoxy resin products are typically made up of the resin itself and a curing agent, which are mixed together. It’s usually contact with uncured resin, or fumes from the crafting process that cause issues.

Even resins and curing agents that claim to be ‘non-toxic’ can still cause health issues when not used properly, with around 10% of people who work with the material experience irritant contact dermatitis reactions.

This is a type of eczema that’s triggered by contact with a particular substance, and symptoms can include itching, blisters, and dry skin.

Others who touch the resin can experience allergic contact dermatitis, an immune response after repeated exposure to an allergen. Symptoms can take a long time to appear, and include painful, oozing blisters, flaky skin, and a burning sensation.

Some people are more predisposed to these skin issues regardless, but they’re important to keep an eye on for everyone, as sensitivity to resin can occur even after years of exposure to it.

And as we mentioned, it’s not just physical contact with epoxy resin you’ve got to watch out for.

The vapour from the epoxy and hardener – considered an adhesive vapour – can trigger an allergic reaction in those who are sensitive, as well as causing severe respiratory irritation if inhaled for long periods.

Sensitive areas like eyelids may also become itchy and swollen if repeatedly exposed to resin fumes.

Keep in mind, too, that sanding or cutting resin pieces that aren’t fully cured could lead to that dust getting into your eyes, mouth, or lungs.

It’s not all bad. Once the resin is cured correctly and safety, it’s fine to touch and breathe around.

Are resin products safe for children and pets?

This is all dependent on the resin used and the method of curing and finishing.

Most people will not experience an allergic reaction to cured resin, so ensure no children or pets may come into contact with the material (or breathe in the associated fumes) until it’s cured.

Products made with epoxy shouldn’t cause any problems, but buying things made from food-grade resin should give you greater peace of mind if you’re worried.

How to use epoxy resin safely

You can avoid almost all health issues associated with epoxy resin by making sure you use it properly and safely.

Proper PPE should be worn when working with resin, including nitrile gloves, safety goggles and thick clothing so any spills won’t touch your skin. It’s also recommended you wear a respiratory mask, which you can purchase for around £15 at most hardware stores.

Ventilation is also key to reducing your exposure to fumes, so keep windows open while you’re crafting.

As many people use moulds for their resin items, these should be designated resin-only and kept away from food prep areas so they’re not mixed up.

Moreover, only use soap and water to wash off any spills, as solvents like alcohol can actually push the chemicals from the resin deeper into the skin.

How to buy safe resin products

We’ve covered how to craft safely with resin, but how do you know items you buy from other sellers are safe?

Most commercially-available products made with resin will be fully cured and therefore safe for use.

If you’re worried, you can contact the seller to check which specific resin they use and whether any other customers have had a reaction.

Resin isn’t ideal for certain conditions, so its safety may be dependent on how you plan to use the finished product.

For example, resin ashtrays can easily be found online, but heat (such as from a cigarette) can melt the plastic and release fumes. Sex toys made out of resin aren’t a great idea either, as they can crack or chip and harbour bacteria.

Look for items made with food-safe resin if you’re buying for the kitchen, but avoid completely for chopping boards as it can crack and chip (and again let in bacteria).

Crafting with resin is fun and can give you some incredible results, but safety is key when you try any new project – particularly if you’re working with materials that are hazardous if used incorrectly.

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