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Epoxy is not only an extremely versatile material for many applications, but also has a few health pitfalls. In this article we will clarify whether epoxy resin is food safe and for which applications it can be used.
Table of Contents
- 1 The special test seal for food-safe epoxy resin
- 2 Best Food Safe Epoxy
- 3 FDA approved Epoxy – Why only a few products are certified
- 4 What does food-safe actually mean?
- 5 Is Epoxy Food Safe?
- 6 BPA in Epoxy Resin
- 7 Where can I find information on Epoxy Resin toxicity?
- 8 Important tips on occupational safety
- 9 Skin diseases must be treated early
The special test seal for food-safe epoxy resin
The most important thing first of all: The EU has defined its own test seal, which proves that epoxy resins are food-safe. This seal of approval is particularly important if there is permanent skin contact with the material or contact with food over a longer period of time. Here are a few examples:
- Coatings of food tanks
- For molds in the food industry (e.g. chocolate)
- Resin furniture, especially dining tables
- Household articles such as cutting boards and fruit bowls
- Terraria / Aquaria
- Interior coatings of ponds
There are special products with this seal for these applications. In principle, however, it can be said that in the cured state, commercial epoxy resin is generally food-safe (at least in most cases). It is therefore not dangerous if a foodstuff comes into contact with an epoxy resin surface for a short time.
Tip: For epoxy resin to be food safe or non-toxic, it must always be completely cured. Liquid epoxy resin is ALWAYS toxic and skin contact should be avoided. Inhaling vapours is also dangerous to health.
Best Food Safe Epoxy
Stone Coat Art Coat Resin
Stone Coat has developed a new Resin that has everything: It’s food-safe, uv-resistant and as coating resin suitable for almost all projects
- Specifically designed for art projects, developed with professional artists
- Heat resistant, scratch resistant, food safe, maximum UV resistant, water resistant
- Compatible with alcohol inks, acrylics, silicone oils, metallics, dyes, pigments
Art Resin is food safe comparing to the FDA. It is a high-quality coating resin, not only for art applications. If you are searching for a high-quality resin, this could be your go-to solution
ZDSticky Epoxy Resin
ZDSticky Epoxy Resin is a resin which is quite a bit thicker than the other epoxies we will discuss on this list. It comes in a handy, easy to use plastic bottle which helps you to use the thicker consistency. This particular resin was manufactured specifically to be used to make jewelry. ZDSticky Epoxy Resin is a great product to make jewelry with, it does tend to be quite hard to ensure a leveled surface. As it is thicker, it also makes it harder for you to remove any bubbles which may form in the resin.
- Zdssticky resin selects German raw materials, safe and environmentally friendly, breath free.
- It can be used to contact food after curing. Suitable for large furniture factories, also suitable for personal DIY use.
- The special formulation we have developed has a lower bubble generation rate, allowing a thicker resin to be poured in a single pass and maintaining stable performance. Safe and clear like water.
While the manufacturers claim that ZDSticky Epoxy Resin can set in 24 hours, many users have noted that it can take a lot longer than this. Despite the drawbacks linked to this product, it does look stunning when it dries, giving a smooth, clear, and high-quality glossy finish. Achieving the desired high-quality finish takes a lot of patience and can be a frustrating process.
While ZDSticky Epoxy Resin may be a difficult product to work with, there is no doubting the safety of the product to be used for food contact projects. ZDSticky Epoxy Resin has passed all the relevant documented standards and contains no VOCs, while also being FDA-approved. If you are looking for a product for making jewelry or castings this is an ideal option, and can also work sufficiently for treating wooden surfaces and countertops.
Max Clear Grade Epoxy Resin System
Max Clear Grade Epoxy Resin is a 2-part clear epoxy resin that is ideal for cutting boards, countertops, and coating tables. It can be purchased in a variety of sizes and offers a 70-minute working time, and takes 24 hours minimum to set.
Max Clear Grade Epoxy is easy to apply. It has a very high viscosity before it sets which allows you to fill any small gaps on the surface area you are working on. The higher viscosity also decreases the chances of any bubbles forming. The one downside to the high viscosity is that it can be difficult to apply this particular epoxy to any surface area which does not lay completely flat, because before to the epoxy sets it can begin to flow.
Max Clear Grade Epoxy manufactures advise the product is FDA-approved for direct food contact which will be brief. It is ideal to be used on wood countertops where one will be preparing food. Max Clear Grade Epoxy can also be used to coat mugs and ceramic bowls. Please note that this product is a little more pricy than other epoxy resins on the market, but the extra expense is worth it to ensure that you have no contamination with your food.
FDA approved Epoxy – Why only a few products are certified
A few years ago there were country-specific standards and certificates for use as food-grade resin. When a uniform EU standard was defined and introduced, many manufacturers did not have their products tested again. This is because the test seal costs a whole lot of money and involves additional effort. That is why there are hardly any resin products on the market at present that have been defined as suitable for use with foodstuffs. In the US, the FDA is responsible for testing and certification.
The few manufacturers who have paid for a test seal therefore demand considerably more for their products.
What does food-safe actually mean?
There is no generally valid legal definition of food safety. However, there are a number of requirements, for example, those of the Federal Office for Risk Assessment, the requirements according to the EU Regulation No. 10.2011 or those of food conformity of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
For the sake of simplicity, however, one could say that food-safe means that the material may come into direct contact with food without any health concerns. To be more precise:
- The material does not release any taste or smell to the food
- No or only very small amounts of non-crosslinked components may be released into the food
- The composition of the food must not be changed by contact
does not present a risk to human health as a result of its consumption
In principle, it is advisable for every resin system to check with the manufacturer to ensure that it is suitable for use with food. In addition, the exact adherence to the mixing ratio is of elementary importance in order to achieve optimum quality.
Is Epoxy Food Safe?
Epoxy resins are chemical products that contain different substances depending on their intended use. A general statement can therefore not be made. Depending on the chemical additive, the product is more or less harmful.
In principle, however, the rules apply that resin or hardener should never be handled or brought into skin contact without protective gloves and that a respiratory mask should be worn. The eyes should also be protected from splashes. If you take this to heart, you have already implemented a large part of occupational safety.
As far as toxicity is concerned, a distinction must first be made between the consistencies or the state. In general:
- In liquid state until cured: Toxic
- In cured condition: Non-toxic
In addition, direct skin contact is significantly more harmful than the absorption of vapours via the respiratory tract.
Although there are now epoxy resins available, some of which are made with natural ingredients, all resin systems are toxic in their liquid state. The following ingredients are of concern:
Carbolic acid / Phenol:
Can cause chemical burns on direct skin contact and acts in high doses as a cell poison or nerve poison. In low doses, it is still rarely used as a disinfectant, but also in agriculture as a weedkiller.
Epichlorohydrin / prepolymers and diglycidyl ether:
These substances are suspected of potentially causing cancer – but only in high concentrations over a long period of time. It has not been researched what effect a combination of these substances would have. Direct skin contact can also cause allergic reactions such as contact eczema, which cannot be treated.
Irritation of the mucous membrane, paralysis of the respiratory tract or delirium can occur via the respiratory tract. Recurrent, prolonged exposure may cause kidney damage or nerve damage.
Tip: Products for industry often contain significantly more toxic substances because they were developed for a different purpose. In industry, extraction is usually carried out in insulated rooms, which is why toxicity is not so important. Products for craftsmen are generally less critical. So don’t be blinded by the lower price of industrial goods, but buy the more expensive products for craftsmen.
Especially for dining tables made of or with resin, care must be taken to use a suitable non-toxic epoxy resin.
BPA in Epoxy Resin
To formulate an epoxy adhesive correctly, you will need to have bisphenol F or bisphenol A. Bisphenol A (BPA) is the more commonly used one as it has superior curing properties. Despite the FDA advising that at low levels that are found in some foods, BPA is safe, they continue to review BPA accordingly.
BPA is something that has been in use since the 1960’s and was used to make epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics. In a sample of 2517 urine samples gathered from individuals 6 years and older, 93% of the samples showed detectable BPA levels. This study was performed by the CDC. One should try to decrease your overall exposure to BPA as there are concerns that significant exposure can be linked to a variety of health concerns. We suggest the following ways to decrease your BPA exposure:
- Ensure any resin or plastic containers that contain BPA are not exposed to heat. Heat causes leaching so for example to not leave your water bottles in the car, as the heat will cause the BPA in the plastic bottle to leach into the water, even during winter.
- How do you know which plastic contains BPA? If it indicates on the plastic a recycle code 7 or recycles code 3 there is a great likelihood it contains BPA. Rather look out for plastics which clearly state BPA free.
- Metal containers such as metal bottle caps and canned goods are coated with epoxy resin. The coating of epoxy resin creates a greater opportunity for BPA to leach into foods than just a bonded joint. You can therefore choose to not use canned foods.
Precautions Regarding BPA that needs to be taken before Selecting Epoxy Resin
There have been many concerns in terms of using epoxy resin for containers and items linked to food. Is this concern necessary? There is a possibility that the chemical composition that the resin is constructed of may work well with food.
As we have previously mentioned you require either bisphenol F or bisphenol A to formulate an epoxy adhesive. BPA (bisphenol A) is the preferred option thanks to its overall curing properties. As mentioned currently the FDA has advised that the low amount of BPA that is found in some foods is okay, but they are ensuring to do continued research.
Be careful your hardener should not contain any forms of amines as these will make food fatal to consume should they contaminate the food. While there are a variety of other options besides the hardener, if you are using the hardener you need to be careful when in use is to ensure that no mutagenic compounds or carcinogenic form. Luckily such hardeners are already banned which leaves you with the choice of cycloaliphatic hardeners or aliphatic hardeners for food-safe epoxy.
Epoxy’s biggest concern is when it contains either bisphenol A-type or B-type. BPA (bisphenol A) when present in epoxy is there to increase the overall quality when setting. BPA is a big culprit for water pollution as a lot of plastic which are thrown away and end up in water bodies, contain BPA.
BPA in very small amounts are not harmful to the human body and can be used. That being said many manufacturers have taken the initiative to make products which are BPA-free, and ensure this is communicated to the consumer.
It has been found that almost everyone consumes and is exposed in some capacity to BPA, but how this exposure impacts one health over the long term has not been clarified as yet.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has clarified that BPA can be used at very low levels. BPA has not been outright banned, despite the concern of long-term exposure. There is a lot of research and reviews currently being done to look into the long-term effect of exposure to BPA. Previous research has shown that since BPA has been introduced since the 1960s in the likes of resin and plastic, it is found in the human body.
Where can I find information on Epoxy Resin toxicity?
The best place to go is usually the manufacturer’s website and there you can find out more about the classification of ingredients in the safety data sheet. The hazardous substance label also provides information on the toxicity of the contents. In case of doubt, ask the manufacturer directly.
Important tips on occupational safety
- You should avoid direct skin contact at all costs. Even if the two components are not yet mixed, they still contain toxic substances.
- After mixing, a chemical reaction occurs and the mixture can produce vapours that should not be inhaled. Therefore, wear a double filter mask, for which you use A2 filters. These protect against organic vapours and gases.
- Disposable latex gloves do not offer sufficient protection, use nitrile gloves instead.
- Wear additional safety glasses to protect your eyes from possible splashes.
- If you need to grind, drill, or saw a food-grade epoxy please ensure to wear an A2 dust mask. It is also very important to ensure sufficient ventilation in the area you are working in. Most cured epoxy isn’t dangerous when grinding, drilling, or sawing you create fine dust which is, in fact, toxic, and this can be inhaled.
- Only use products that clearly state heat-resistant food-safe epoxy should be exposed to high temperatures.
- If you have had any direct contact with an epoxy coated surface always keep an eye out for any form of skin reactions. If you do notice any skin reaction ensure to contact your dermatologist. Ensure to treat it immediately as any damage that could be potentially caused by incorrectly cured epoxy resin may be irreversible if it isn’t addressed immediately.
The workplace should also be well ventilated. Fine dust is produced when grinding / sawing the cured material, which is why an appropriate dust mask must be worn for processing.
Skin diseases must be treated early
If changes to the skin are detected, they must be treated immediately. Consult a dermatologist. Untreated skin reactions can otherwise become chronic.