Resin is a popular and fun crafting material, and it has a lot of versatile applications. However, beginners may find resin intimidating to work with, and it can also be toxic to both users and the environment.
So, what are the best resin alternatives? Great resin alternatives include ArtResin, Ecopoxy, CrystaLac, clay, ceramic, concrete, and hard plaster.
There are several great resin alternatives, but the one that’s best will depend on what kind of project you’re working on. While nothing will give you the exact same crystal clear results for things like casting, you can use other materials to achieve a perfect mold.
If you love the look and characteristics of resin but want to work with something that is non-toxic, friendly to the environment, and easy to work with for beginners, this article will give you five alternative options for every purpose.
Reasons To Use A Resin Alternative
A resin is a substance that can convert into rigid polymers (essentially hard plastic) after curing. There are a few grades of resin out there, including polyester resin, epoxy resin, polyurethane resin, etc.
Resin has so many different applications. It can be used for casting when it is still in liquid form or as an adhesive or even a wood sealant. The most popular type of resin that you can find in arts and crafts is epoxy resin.
There’s a reason why resin is super popular in reason years. Because it cures to become a durable, waterproof, and clear plastic with a high gloss finish, it can be used to make jewelry, cups, trays, etc. When the resin is completely cured, it is also non-toxic and food-safe, which means you can also make your own dishware and cups with this material.
Resin is used in so many applications. In woodworking, it can be used to fill in holes and cracks, as an adhesive, and a sealant to waterproof wood. In arts and crafts, it can be used in casting to make home decor items, figurines, jewelry, etc.
However, there are a few reasons why you may want to find alternatives for resin. Resin crafts are not easy, even for an experienced crafter.
Ease of Use
Resin usually comes in two parts – the resin and a hardener to activate it – and you usually have to mix it yourself to activate the resin. Mixing resin is a time-consuming, delicate task, and if you just need a quick job done, then this can be a discouraging aspect.
The process itself is challenging and messy, and resin is a tricky material to work with. You will need to mix the resin yourself, and it takes some serious skill to get a nice, even result without any bubbles trapped inside.
More importantly, the fumes from resin products can be toxic and harmful if inhaled too much over a short period of time, so it is important to take safety precautions when working with resin products, including wearing goggles and gloves, and working in a well-ventilated area.
Before the resin is completely cured, it can also be harmful to the environment too, which is a big reason why many crafters want to look for an eco-friendly alternative.
Finally, although resin is food-safe after it is cured, it is not dishwasher safe, and it cannot handle hot food. The resin can melt when it is exposed to heat (over 120°F), so as you can imagine, it is not great if you are making a cup or a plate.
5 Types of Resin Alternatives
Since resin is such a versatile material that can be used for crafting, sealing, casting, or gluing things together, let’s take a look at some good alternatives for each purpose below.
|Resin Alternative||Key Feature|
|ArtResin||Best for coating surfaces|
|Clay||Best for sculpting|
1. Eco-Friendly Resin Alternative
The brand Ecopoxy makes various plant-based, eco-friendly resins that can be a great substitute for traditional resins. Aside from casting, it can also be used as a coating for metal.
Ecopoxy comes in a few variations for different applications. One of these is Flowcast, which is a resin that’s ideal for thick pours. Another type is UVPoxy, which can be commonly used for sealing and protecting surfaces. There are also photo-luminescent epoxies called Glopoxy as well as a glittery variation.
Ecopoxy is very similar to epoxy resin in terms of performance, texture, and application. It also comes in a two-part solution that you have to mix yourself, and you can use this solution to make anything you would like.
The big advantage of Ecopoxy is that it is plant-based and non-toxic, which means you don’t have to worry about the strong fumes when working with it, as you would with traditional epoxy resins. As a result, you don’t have to wear any protective equipment or worry about harming the environment when working with Ecopoxy.
The only disadvantage of Ecopoxy is that although it cures to become a clear, high-gloss plastic similar to traditional epoxy resin, the color tends to turn yellow over time, which is why it is not a popular option for art projects.
2. Resin Alternatives For Art
ArtResin is a new type of resin that’s made for artists. It is designed to closely resemble traditional epoxy resin and looks great in various applications such as making jewelry, art supplies, and furniture. You can check out ArtResin’s storefront on Amazon to see their offerings.
Since it doesn’t contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), Art resin is a non-hazardous substance and is very safe to use without any protective equipment, and you don’t need a well-ventilated studio space to work with this material.
Although ArtResin is a little bit more expensive than Ecopoxy and traditional epoxy resin, the price tag is worth it, thanks to some added benefits. Art resin is formulated with UV stabilizers and other additives that prevent the finished product from yellowing over time, which is why it is preferred by artists who enjoy working with epoxy resin.
Similar to traditional epoxy resin, art resin is suitable for casting small items as well as coating surfaces.
If you simply need something clear to preserve your work in a thin layer, CrystaLac is also a great alternative, and we have a whole article dedicated to explaining the differences between CrystaLac Vs Epoxy.
Check out CrystaLac’s storefront on Amazon to see what they have to offer.
3. Resin Alternatives For Crafting
If you love crafting jewelry, decor pieces, and dishware but don’t love working with resin, you’ll find that clay is a great alternative for crafting.
When we talk about clay, there are actually quite a few types of clay that can work at home.
People are often intimidated by clay because they assume that you will need a pottery wheel and a kiln to get started, but there are actually other types of clay, like air-dry clay and oven bake clay, that you can totally craft with at home with just a few shaping tools.
First, let’s talk about air-dry clay, which has been all the buzz in recent years.
Air-dry clays like this one are a great material to work with, especially if you are new to crafting. Air-dry clays are non-toxic and can harden when they are exposed to air, unlike other clays that require baking in an oven or firing in a kiln.
Air-dry clay is a versatile art medium that can be used for sculpting, jewelry making, and other crafts. The best part about air dry clay is that it does not require any special tools or equipment. They are very easy to customize with just a few household tools (like a rolling pin and a trimmer).
Air-dry clay is sold in different colors and textures, so you can totally find what you need to craft a totally unique piece of jewelry or decor for your home.
Unfortunately, since air dry clay is formulated to be convenient and accessible, it also does have a few disadvantages.
Air-dry clay can be fragile, which makes it unsuitable for making large items that will be handled frequently or for making items with thin parts. The clay is also prone to cracking, especially after it dries out a bit. Finally, air-dry clay shrinks while drying, so it does lose some shape in the drying process.
In addition, air dry clay is not waterproof or food-safe, so you won’t be able to use your product to handle any food or drinks. However, for decorative items such as jewelry holders, air dry clay is still a great material for sculpting.
If you want something a little bit sturdier, you can check out oven-bake clay.
Oven-bake clay is a soft, pliable, and inexpensive medium for crafting. It is available in a range of colors and can be used to create a wide variety of objects. I recommend this starter kit on Amazon.
Baking the clay hardens it and makes it waterproof. After it is baked, the ‘ceramic’ can be polished, painted, or glazed, just like regular ceramics. The clay can also be left un-baked where it remains soft so that you can store and use it to sculpt without worrying about it hardening or cracking.
However, working with oven-bake clay does require a bit of effort, especially when you are baking the clay to make sure that it does not crack in the process. After baking, the clay is hard, but it doesn’t mean it is super durable – it can still break or crack quite easily.
However, as an accessible, non-toxic alternative to resin, both air dry clay and oven bake clay are quite suitable for crafting various accessories and home decor items.
Finally, an eco-friendly, non-toxic, durable alternative for the resin is just good old-fashioned ceramic like this one.
Contrary to popular beliefs, pottery isn’t very hard to get into – you don’t need a pottery wheel, especially if you are just making jewelry or small home decor items. You will only need a few trimming tools and a rolling pin, and use your hands to sculpt your product.
Since pottery needs to be fired in a kiln to become ceramics, you will need access to a kiln that can fire your pottery at a very high temperature to harden in. In every area, there are a lot of pottery shops that offer kiln space for amateur potters, so make sure to check out those options.
Although this alternative requires a bit more effort compared to air-dry clay and oven-bake clay, the result is usually very durable, long-lasting, food-safe, and waterproof ceramic that you can use around the house.
4. Resin Alternatives For Casting
One big application of resin is casting. Casting requires the use of a mold, and when you pour the resin inside the mold, the final product will take the shape of the mold after it is completely cured.
There are so many things you can make using the casting method from salad bowls, plates to home decor pieces and accessories. If you want to use the casting method but don’t want to deal with the toxic nature of resin, then you can experiment with concrete or hard plaster instead.
Concrete and Hard Plaster
Since fresh concrete is in a liquid state, it can be poured into various molds to create various shapes and sizes, similar to how you would work with resin. After pouring, concrete can harden at room temperature, similar to resin, and it can take the shape of the mold after curing.
One huge advantage of concrete over resin is that it can withstand very high temperatures without losing its shape. Concrete is also waterproof and can hold water better than resin without being damaged.
Concrete is very affordable and widely available in most home improvement stores.
The one big disadvantage of concrete is that it has a very distinct, rugged look that may not be suitable for things like jewelry. That, and the fact that concrete is heavier than other materials, makes it a better fit to make flower and garden pots.
5. Resin Alternatives For Sealing
Resin makes an excellent sealant for wood and other surfaces that require a waterproof, durable layer of protection. However, if you are looking for a beginner-friendly alternative, Mod Podge can be a good solution, especially for small craft projects.
Mod Podge is a great product for arts and crafts as it is widely available and can be purchased for a low price. You can check out the Mod Podge storefront on Amazon to see what they offer.
If you just need to get a quick job done, there’s really no need to mix a new batch of resin to seal just a small area. Mod Podge is basically the glue that’s mixed with a small amount of sealant. It dries clear and can be used as a clear sealant as well as an adhesive. This allows it to be used in more diverse projects.
Thanks to its versatility and affordable price, Mod Podge has remained the most popular staple in the crafts community. Its reputation has also grown over the years, which is why more people are using it.
Using Mod Podge is relatively simple – there’s really no mixing required. If you are using it as an adhesive, it can work for wood, cardstock, or even fabric. If you are using Mod Podge as a clear sealant, you can use a brush to go over the area with a layer of Mod Podge to achieve a clear layer of protection.
Mod Podge actually comes in a few formulas that can make it easier for customization. You can get the standard option – glossy or matte – and add glitter or pigment for a more personal touch.
Mod Podge is not a perfect substitute for resin, however. While resin can fill in cracks and holes to create an even surface, Mod Podge isn’t strong enough to do that. If your surface is cracked, you will need to fill in those cracks with fillers first before going over it with Mod Podge.
Mod Podge is also not a very strong sealant, especially for outdoor use. Resin is known for forming durable, waterproof protection around a surface, which makes it a good option for outdoor wood. However, Mod Podge is more suitable for indoor use and for items that don’t need to handle a lot of wear and tear.
If you are a beginner and are on a budget, Mod Podge is a good choice. Its ease of use and its ability to provide additional functionality makes it the obvious choice for beginners.