Epoxy resin is highly popular in wood finishing due to its numerous benefits. It is pretty flexible, adheres to various surfaces, and dries to form a tough, durable finish.
You can use epoxy on countless wood surfaces, including bar tops, tabletops, kitchen counters, chopping boards, salad bowls, charcuterie plates, serving trays, etc.
However, food safety should come first when coating items like salad bowls used to handle foods and food items.
So, Is epoxy resin food safe? Is there any food safe epoxy? Can you use it on food handling surfaces without causing health problems? This article seeks to answer this question in detail.
Is Epoxy Resin Food Safe?
Not all epoxy is food-safe, but food-grade epoxy with FDA approval is food safe once properly cured. The FDA approval is essential as it guarantees that the product has undergone the requisite testing and is proven safe for food contact.
Still, you must use the product correctly to ensure maximum safety. Thankfully, you can always find all the information regarding proper usage on the product container or packaging.
Ideally, the FDA-approved options contain the lowest percentages of potentially harmful ingredients.
After mixing these ingredients and processing them through the appropriate manufacturing methods, they become safe for food contact, subject to proper mixing, pouring, and curing.
Curing is essential to food-grade epoxy because all epoxy resin is toxic while in liquid form. However, it becomes non-toxic as soon as it reaches its cured state.
Therefore, it is essential to avoid inhaling vapors produced while mixing epoxy components. Your skin must also not come into contact with the liquid as the resin can be significantly harmful in that state.
This rule applies to casting resins made out of natural ingredients too. In any case, you should be safe as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
What is Food Safety?
Food safety refers to the preparation, handling, and storage of food and food items in ways that help prevent food-related ailments.
Government bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) usually formulate and enforce food safety laws to protect people from food-borne diseases.
Products used to treat items that come into contact with food must pass the safety tests of these government bodies on complying with food safety requirements.
Therefore, any food item should come into direct contact with the material without causing any health concerns.
What is Food-Safe Epoxy?
Food safe epoxy meets the federal requirements stipulated by the FDA, giving it the required federal approval. These products contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and boast low levels of potentially harmful ingredients.
This formulation makes them compliant with the applicable regulatory requirements. Therefore, food-safe epoxy is an FDA-approved epoxy resin.
Requirements for FDA Approval
Food safe epoxy must pass several stringent tests to be considered compliant. The applicable requirements for FDA-approved material include:
- Not releasing any smell or taste to the food.
- Not able to alter the food composition upon contact.
- Consumption of the substance presents no risk to human health.
- Containing little or no non-crosslinked components releasable to the food.
When purchasing epoxy, it is advisable to check with the manufacturer regarding its food safety to determine its suitability.
Also, consider looking at the ingredients and their levels to ensure nothing harmful is included. Additionally, ensure you adhere to the product’s strict mixing ratio to achieve its optimum quality.
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How to Find Food-Grade Epoxy
Most DIY stores sell epoxy resin. However, finding the FDA-approved varieties may require looking beneath the surface. You should have more luck finding these compliant brands by shopping online.
Online retail spaces like Amazon make it easier to find FDA-compliant food-grade epoxy resins at the touch of a button.
Once you locate the brand on these retail platforms, you can visit the manufacturer’s respective website to research them further.
Alternatively, you can contact the manufacturer to ask any questions you might have. In any case, any compliant product will have information on the test seals that you can check before purchasing.
Additionally, your food-safe epoxy product should come in two separate bottles. One bottle typically contains the hardener while the other one carries the resin.
Mixing one-part resin with a one-part hardener will give the best results. The mixing ratio of 1:1 is essential to achieving the correct outcome.
Ingredients to Watch Out for in Food-Grade Epoxy
Epoxies are known to contain no volatile organic compounds. However, the chemical compositions still vary from one brand to another, with some brands having chemical ingredients with known toxicities.
Such brands do not strictly abide by the basic criteria for epoxy resins of having low Bisphenol levels and little to no VOCs. Bisphenol is a key ingredient in nearly every epoxy resin, water bottle, and some foods.
The product can contain Bisphenol A (BFA) or Bisphenol F (BPF). Because Bisphenol is essential for an epoxy formula, manufacturers may not exclude it from their products even though it is potentially unsafe to use in large quantities.
So, it is always important to use it in low quantities. One thing you want to check in any epoxy resin you want to buy is the BPA level in the product ingredients. Be keen to avoid any epoxy product containing large amounts of this ingredient.
The United States Food and Drug Administration and other similar government organizations in other countries have found no health risks associated with low levels of BFA, so you should be fine to buy a product with such levels.
While your epoxy will likely have some BFA and remain food-safe, products with epichlorohydrin are likely to be toxic. So your epoxy resin should not have this ingredient in any amount.
Epichlorohydrin can cause cancer. Long-term exposure to this substance can endanger vital organs like the kidney or the nerves.
Such exposure may trigger symptoms such as eczema, allergy, irritation of the mucous membrane, and paralysis of the respiratory tract.
This is a corrosive acid with numerous industrial and agricultural uses. It could cause nerve body cell damage or poison the nerves if swallowed. Since it is corrosive, you should watch out for skin contact.
It is the other component used in manufacturing resins, such as epoxy. But if you are looking to use the product for food handling items, it is best to ensure no carbolic acid is included in the ingredients.
Best Food-Grade Epoxy Resin Coatings — Reviews
This section reviews some of the food-grade epoxies to consider for your next purchase. These products have the best safety profiles of all the options we found on the market.
1. Best food safe epoxy glue – ArtResin-Epoxy Resin
- Non-toxic when used as directed. (8 oz kit = 4 oz resin + 4 oz hardener)
- No VOCs. No BPA. No fumes. Non-flammable. Certified Food safe.
- UV and HALS stabilized for unparalleled yellowing protection
This epoxy adhesive comes in two bottles that form an inert coating once dry. Mix the product in a ratio of 1: 1 for a food-safe finish.
Half of the product consists of a resin, while the other half is a hardener. This perfect balance makes it easy to achieve the recommended one-to-one ratio when using the adhesive.
It has no volatile organic compounds, so you can use them in less-perfectly ventilated areas without worrying about their health implications.
The product boasts an ultra-safe chemical formula with no BPA or fumes, making it among the safest. It is also non-flammable, so you can use it near flame-causing agents without putting your home at risk of fire.
The product has UV stabilizers in its formula, so it will not turn amber over time. This means the protective coat remains clear and preserves your wood’s natural color for the long haul.
It is easy to use. Thanks to clear and intuitive usage instructions, you will not require any prior experience to use it correctly.
Its self-leveling quality further makes it easy to achieve a high-gloss finish with minimal effort.
2. Best FDA approved epoxy for tumblers – MAX CLR Epoxy Resin System
- FDA Compliant Coating For Brief-Use Direct Food Contact
- Crystal Clear Coating For Wood And Other Porous Substrates
- Chemical Resistant- Inert Surface
MAX CLR Epoxy Resin System is the best FDA-approved epoxy for tumblers for a food-grade epoxy. It checks all the right boxes, making it our best pick.
The product is formulated for use in direct contact with food after it has been fully cured. It will not impact the smell or taste of your food, nor will it alter the food composition.
The epoxy is clear-colored and dries to form a high-gloss finish. This quality makes it preserve and bring out your wood’s natural beauty while enhancing its sheen.
Once dry, the epoxy-finished surface is resistant to chemical damage, so you can use it for various applications without worry.
This makes it ideal for finishing tumblers used to carry different types of liquids and other food-handling surfaces like bar tops and kitchen counters.
The high gloss seal does an excellent job of preventing absorption and preserving the wood’s natural aesthetics for longer. Once dry, this epoxy resin creates an impact-resistant coat that protects the wood from dents and marks.
3. Best food safe epoxy for cutting boards – ProMarine Supplies Art Resin
- Formerly Pro Marine: Two renowned epoxy brands, ProMarine Supplies and Incredible Solutions, have united to form Promise Epoxy, the ultimate powerhouse in the art and home decor industries.
- User-Friendly: Whether you're a professional artist or a DIY enthusiast, the Promise Epoxy Art Resin offers top-tier protection and gloss for your creations.
- Safe: Crafted with high-quality, non-toxic ingredients, this art resin epoxy clear is 100% safe for indoor and outdoor use, ensuring no harmful fumes, reactions, or chemicals.
If you want a glossy, upscale finish for your wooden items, this epoxy resin from ProMarine Supplies may be your best bet. It adheres to wood surfaces easily, making it easy to use.
The resin consists of premium quality ingredients tested and certified as safe and non-toxic. Knowing this epoxy resin is 100 percent safe for interior and exterior applications, you can enjoy peace of mind.
It does not emit any dangerous fumes as the resin reacts with the hardener to create a lasting finish. The high gloss finish effectively resists scratching and denting.
It is tough and durable, keeping the wood looking good for longer. In addition, its self-leveling formula helps make it a breeze to apply the product and achieve professional-looking results.
This epoxy for woodworking is versatile, so you can use it across various wooden surfaces.
How to Make Epoxy Food Safe?
All epoxy is toxic in liquid form and loses its toxicity, becoming inert once fully cured. This underscores how the importance of curing for epoxy resin food safety. And the curing heavily depends on the correct usage of the epoxy.
That said, here are some steps to ensure your epoxy dries to form a food-safe coat.
Mix and apply the epoxy in a warm environment
Food-grade epoxy comes in two bottles, one resin, and the other hardener. To create the needed finish, you must mix these two to form the adhesive that eventually gets cured.
When mixing these two and applying them to your project, ensure you work in a warm space with room temperature to facilitate the right process. Mixing and applying the epoxy at temperatures below 70 degrees will inhibit its proper curing.
Apply the epoxy in two coats
The first epoxy coat should be thin. This serves as a sealant on the wood surface, preventing air bubbles from forming and rising afterward.
The second coat is thicker and should go onto the first once it has dried as directed on the product label. And of course, you can pour epoxy over polyurethane for a more hardened coat.
Always be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to achieve the best results when working with both polyurethane or epoxy coatings.
Mix the epoxy in a 1:1 ratio
The product will only be food-safe when mixed in the correct ratio, with one part resin and one part hardener. Any imbalance can lead to an imbalanced reaction, potentially leading to toxicities in the final coat.
Using the exact same amount of resin and hardener is essential to making the epoxy safe for food contact. Failing to observe this ratio may prevent the epoxy from curing properly.
Mix the resin and hardener carefully and slowly
The idea is to avoid introducing air bubbles into the product, which may happen if you rush the process and mix the resin and hardener quickly.
Ensure you take your time and mix the two components slowly and gently, often for about five minutes, to achieve the appropriate consistency. You should know the mixing is complete when the mixture becomes clear.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding curing
Various epoxy brands may have different cure times, often about a month. Even FDA compliant brands are not safe for food contact until they are fully cured.
The manufacturer will often specify how long the product must take to cure fully. It is essential to adhere to these instructions.
Failure to follow these instructions might result in food poisoning. Additionally, there is a specific wait time between coats of epoxy.
The product label typically specifies how much time you must wait between coats for the best results. It is important to observe this instruction as it will directly affect the cure time.
Epoxy Resin Safety Tips
In its liquid form, epoxy resin consists of chemical substances and likely fumes that might be a health hazard. So it is important to take some safety precautions when working with this product.
This section offers some of the main tips to follow for optimum safety.
Always wear protection when applying the epoxy
You don’t want the liquids coming in contact with your skin. Nor do you want to inhale any fumes coming out of the reaction between the resin and hardener while mixing them.
So ensure you wear a pair of Nitrile gloves, respirator, and safety goggles when mixing the products to protect your lungs, skin, and eyes in the process.
Nitrile is chemically inert, so it is the recommended material for use when working with chemicals that could react with a wide range of materials.
We do not recommend latex gloves as they will react with the chemicals in epoxy. This may endanger your skin and the epoxy itself product.
In case of accidental contact, quickly wash off the epoxy from the skin with soap and water, and then rinse the area thoroughly.
Work in a properly ventilated area
Consider opening windows and any ventilation pathways when working with epoxy indoors. The idea is to allow the fumes produced while mixing the resin and hardener to leave the indoor space as soon as they are emitted.
You don’t want to have these fumes suspended in the air, as doing so will increase the chances of someone inhaling them.
Avoid industrial-grade epoxy products
When buying epoxy for domestic use, do not go for products labeled for industrial use. While these may come at a pocket-friendly fee, they are formulated differently from food-safe DIY options.
Stick to FDA-compliant choices designed with home-friendly raw materials. They may cost slightly higher than the industrial-grade options, but they guarantee your safety.
Protect your lungs and eyes when cutting or grinding cured epoxy
Even after curing, it is not advisable to inhale ground epoxy just like any dust. So if you must grind, saw, or drill an epoxy-coated wood, ensure you wear the necessary protection for your lungs and eyes.
This means wearing protective goggles and a respirator or safety dust mask. The fine dust can irritate your respiratory tract if inhaled.
Is cured epoxy food safe?
Yes. Epoxy becomes an inert plastic once fully cured for about 30 days. At this point, any incidental food exposure to such epoxy coated surfaces should pose no health risk to people r pets. Still, we do not recommend preparing or cutting food on epoxy-coated surfaces unless the epoxy is strictly FDA-approved as food-grade.
Is epoxy safe to drink from?
FDA-compliant epoxy brands are considered safe for coating tumblers, salad bowls, and other wooden items used for carrying food. No health risks associated with drinking from such epoxy surfaces have been found or reported.
Can you eat off epoxy resin?
Eating directly off epoxy resin materials is not recommended because the product does not possess any antimicrobial qualities. Additionally, epoxy may pose a health hazard if it is not fully cured or has parts chipped off the surface and is likely to enter the food.
What does the FDA allow the resin to contain?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows the resin to contain some Bisphenol A (BFA) level. The FDA considers this ingredient perfectly safe to have in resins or even some foods at low levels.
Is epoxy resin FDA-approved?
Not all epoxy is FDA-approved. However, several epoxy brands are FDA approved, subject to passing several stringent tests based on the products’ formulations. For the FDA to approve an epoxy product, it must be formulated with raw materials compliant with FDA requirements.
Is ArtResin FDA approved?
Yes, Art Resin is currently certified by the FDA as food-grade, so it should be safe for direct food contact. The certification means the epoxy product is FDA approved and has undergone strict testing to be found in compliance with applicable FDA regulations.
Is epoxy resin safe for cutting boards?
Food-grade epoxy is typically safe for light-duty cutting or non-cutting surfaces like serving boards, serving trays, or charcuterie boards as long as the epoxy is correctly applied and cured. However, the product may not be entirely safe for heavy-duty cutting boards where the risk of chipping and mixing with food is high.
Make sure you pick the best wood for butcher block to get a smooth finish if you’re building your own.
Can epoxy be used on a charcuterie board?
Yes, food-grade epoxy can be used on charcuterie boards when applied correctly. The coating is safe for light-duty cutting or non-cutting surfaces like charcuterie boards and serving trays.
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Checking the product test seals, contacting the manufacturer and asking questions, or browsing the product websites for relevant information can help you locate food-safe epoxy resin.
However, following the guidelines in this article should help you get the right product and use it correctly.
We hope that this guide helps answer your most pressing questions regarding food safe paints and epoxy and helps keep you safe.