Food Safe Epoxy
Is epoxy food safe? Is it FDA approved? This is an increasingly popular question we are getting here at Epoxy Countertop DIY and over on our YouTube channel. It's no surprise, as epoxy has become extremely popular for items found in the kitchen, such as countertops, tumblers, cutting boards, coasters, etc. While it would be great if it was a simple, straight-forward "yes" or "no" answer, the truth is, it's not that simple. Let me explain...
This is going to be a generalized statement because not all epoxies are created equal. It's important you research the brand of epoxy you are using and the chemicals/ingredients in it. However, for most epoxies that claim to be food safe, it's critical that you understand that they can be food safe, if cured properly. Because it is ultimately up to the end user to mix, pour, and cure the epoxy, each application would have to be assessed individually to ensure it is properly cured in order to say that it is food safe.
As many of you know, working with epoxy is a bit of an art. There are many variables that go into ensuring epoxy is cured accurately and appropriately. Even the most experienced epoxy users encounter curing issues from time to time. Inaccurate measuring, not thoroughly mixing, and inappropriate working environments are all variables that can effect your cured epoxy. If you end up with tacky epoxy on your tumbler, it is not considered food safe - you wouldn't want to be putting tacky epoxy to your mouth. Does this make sense?
Is Epoxy FDA Approved?
Is Epoxy Really Safe in Kitchens?
Some key compounds of epoxy are the ingredients bisphenol A (BPA) or bisphenol F (BPF). The FDA reports that certain foods contain safe, low levels of BPA. However, the effects of BPA are still under review by the FDA. So if being BPA-free is of importance, there is no need to cross epoxies completely off the list. Several brands produce FDA approved epoxy that are in compliance with the extensive list of chemical compounds and raw materials listed in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 21, part 175.300 and 175.105 report.
Is Food Safe Epoxy Still Beautiful?
Food grade epoxy is equally as clear as any other epoxy on the market. Being food safe should not affect the clarity or quality of the epoxy. Many brands highlight the fact that their epoxy is more resistant to yellowing with the highest standard of color clarity. This epoxy will leave any medium it covers with high-gloss shine, true to color protection, and a hard outer layer to keep the surface protected for years to come. The “food safe” label does not change the qualities already associated with popular epoxies. Whether it is food safe or not, these coatings complete the same tasks.
Where to Use Your Epoxy
Epoxy, when cured, is generally food safe, as long as it is in compliance with the FDA’s thorough regulations. Many companies will have their epoxy labeled as “food grade epoxy coating,” thus signaling that it is safe to use on surfaces that come into contact with food. It is imperative that an epoxy has this label if there is the possibility of it coming into contact with food. The widespread nature of this FDA-approved ingredient list allows individuals to seal virtually any surface without fear of toxicity or harmful effects.
The difference between epoxy brands that are food safe versus those that are not, lies primarily in what the epoxy is used for. Some individuals use epoxy for coating oil paintings, aircraft adhesives, or to coat the inside of one’s boat. Therefore, the epoxy used in these situations do not have to be food safe, as there is no chance of the surface it’s covering to ever come into contact with food. It is important to note that not all epoxies are created for use with food, and one must search out specific brands of epoxy producers to ensure that it is compliant with FDA standards. Brands that are food safe are great for use with homemade food containers. Several popular examples include candy bowls, hors d’oeuvres platters, and drink coasters. Even if there is a slight chance of an item covered in epoxy to come into contact with some type of food--it’s best to be safe and coat it with the specially formulated epoxy sealant to make it food safe.
Ultimately, with the advent of epoxies that are safe for use with food, there is still a danger of harm if directions are not followed carefully. Every epoxy brand is different, and thus uses different ratios of ingredients in their mix. Carefully following instructions during the curing process dramatically decreases the adverse effects of incorrect proportioning. Be sure you have enough epoxy on hand prior to beginning your project.
Epoxy for Cutting Boards
As the popularity of epoxy continues to grow, cutting boards have become extremely popular in the making community. This type of project is an instance where you would need to ensure your epoxy is food safe or FDA compliant to ensure the safety of whoever is using it. There are many types of epoxies considered FDA compliant from deep pour epoxies to table top epoxies to UV resistant epoxies. The trick is finding the right one that works for you and your project.
Now, what about the surface? Will it be able to handle constant cutting with a knife that all cutting boards go through? Well, the answer is no, but that's okay! The great thing about cutting board projects is that they typically have a final clear coat of epoxy on top - this helps minimize scratches, scuffs, and general wear and tear that will come from every day use but it will not stop it entirely. Good thing, it's easy to fix!
To fix this, you just need to follow a few steps. First, clean your surface of any dirt and residue that might have accumulated over its time of use. Next, grab some sandpaper and lightly scuff up the surface, the edges, the corners - basically everywhere that needs to be fixed. Finally, you're going to grab your FDA compliant epoxy, mix correctly and thoroughly, pour, and wait 7 full days for it to cure! Once you've done this, your cutting board will look good as new and is ready to take its place back in the kitchen.
What Kind of Epoxy to Use on Tumblers
Typically, you would need to use the same type of epoxy for tumblers as you would for cutting boards - FDA compliant. What makes this type of application challenging is the self-leveling nature of epoxy - since tumblers aren't a flat surface like cutting boards, the epoxy tends to fall right off. In this instance, you use what is called a cup turner, in conjunction with an epoxy of medium viscosity. When you apply the epoxy, the cup turner rotates the tumbler and helps to hold the epoxy from falling off of the surface. It also helps level out the surface so you have a smooth application.
Now, with tumblers you want to make sure that you're using the right epoxy. Since tumblers will come into constant contact with food and liquid, you want to make sure that your epoxy is food safe. But buying food safe epoxy isn't enough - you also need to make sure that you read and follow the instructions exactly and wait the allotted number of days for it to cure fully. If your epoxy mixture is incorrect or hasn't gone through its full cure cycle, it will cause problems and void out any sort of FDA compliance it might have had if done correctly. It is extremely important to follow your chosen epoxy's instructions exactly in order to stay safe!
Viscosity of your chosen epoxy is also very important when it comes to tumbler making. Upon first thought, thin viscosities work well - they allow for multiple layers without adding bulk to your project, and are easy to spread and work with. But, you wouldn't want to use an epoxy product as thin as deep pour epoxy - it would drip right off the surface before you had a chance to spread it and it wouldn't cure properly. Instead, you want to find an epoxy that is thin enough to mix thoroughly but thick enough that gravity can hold it to the surface of your tumbler. It's a good thing that there are so many different formulas of epoxy out there on the market. It provides you with many options of FDA compliant epoxies.
Not using food safe resin products on your resin projects can cause major harm to the user and is highly dangerous! So if you're thinking of getting into resin or starting a new project for your kitchen, make sure you do your research and pay close attention while working.