With the creation and evolution of Etsy, more and more crafters and makers have taken to this online platform to sell their products.
One of the most popular products sold on Etsy are customized tumblers. These cups can have any decal you want – monogram, symbol, image, you name it – with a beautiful overcoat in a variety of color and glitter options.
While many customers may not know this, that beautiful shiny overcoat on the outside of their custom tumbler is usually made with either epoxy or CrystaLac.
So, CrystaLac vs epoxy, which is better to use? CrystaLac products have significantly less safety concerns than epoxy, but epoxy requires less coats and takes less continual effort to apply. Both products provide a durable and smooth finish, but CrystaLac is strictly a finishing product while epoxy can also be used in silicone molds.
Both products have their own advantages and disadvantages. Crafters who use each of these products have very strong opinions and feelings about why their chosen product is superior.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. Let’s dive into the details of each product to help you choose the right finishing product for your home business.
What Is CrystaLac?
CrystaLac is actually the company name, and not the product. The CrystaLac company has been working to provide safe products for over 40 years. You can visit the CrystaLac store on Amazon to take a look at the awesome products they have to offer.
The main CrystaLac products that crafters use to make tumblers are the top-coats, such as Brite Tone. There are also color additives you can purchase from CrystaLac that easily mix in with their base product to create the colorful options you’re used to seeing.
The reason CrystaLac has grown in popularity for crafters is that it’s a water-based product that’s completely safe to use indoors and without ventilation systems or safety equipment.
It also comes ready-to-use in a container and doesn’t require any mixing like epoxy does. We’ll dive more into the advantages and disadvantages about CrystaLac products in later sections.
What Is Epoxy?
Without getting into too many of the scientific details, epoxy is a type of polymer that hardens (commonly referred to as “curing”) by chemical reaction. This curing process is often aided by heat or UV light.
Because epoxy is a chemical compound that hardens through chemical reactions, it releases toxic chemical fumes into the air as it cures.
These fumes can be mitigated through proper safety gear and ventilation, but this can still be a deterrent for those who want to make their tumblers from the comfort of their craft room.
Epoxy is generally used to create a shiny, sealed layer over an item such as wood, metal, or plastic. It’s also used in silicone molds to create anything from coasters and figurines to soap dishes and jewelry.
Advantages To CrystaLac And Epoxy
There are plenty of advantages to both CrystaLac and epoxy. Despite the toxic fumes of epoxy, there’s a reason people still use it.
CrystaLac products have plenty of advantages. One of the biggest is that the product is water-based and free of any toxic chemical fumes. You can use it anywhere in the house without fear of health issues.
Since it’s water-based, it can also be used without any protective gear like the ventilator mask, goggles, and gloves that epoxy requires. It’s also much easier to clean up.
CrystaLac also goes on smoother. While epoxy has problems with creating what people call “fish eyes” or little bubbles in the finish, CrystaLac products don’t have that problem. They go on smoothly and give you a nice, clear finish.
CrystaLac products also require no mixing. When you purchase a container of their top-coat, it’s ready to use as is. No more hassle of mixing the ingredients and wearing the proper safety gear to do so.
Even though you have to apply several coats of CrystaLac (around 12 in total), they can be reapplied every four hours and the project will still be done in around the same amount of time that the epoxy takes to fully cure – sometimes even shorter.
The main advantage to using epoxy is that it can be used in molds. This may not be important to those of you customizing tumblers, but it is important for other custom objects such as keychains.
Another great thing about epoxy is that it can be more readily available. There are several different brands and companies that make epoxy, and it can be found easily at a hardware store or online.
Epoxy also only requires 2 coats to be properly finished. While epoxy takes a while to cure, it’s nice that you only have to reapply once after the initial coat. What may take more time is still taking considerably less effort.
Disadvantages To CrystaLac And Epoxy
The only real downside to CrystaLac products is that they can’t be used in silicone molds. For those who have a full variety of custom products and not just tumblers, CrystaLac just won’t work.
The reason is that it’s not a product that was designed for pouring. It was created to have thin layers that dry quickly, so pouring into a mold just won’t work.
Another potential downside could be lower product availability. CrystaLac is only one company, and they’re the only people who provide their products. If they’re out of stock, you may have to wait to replenish your craft supplies.
One point about CrystaLac that some consider to be a disadvantage is the number of coats. Although you can get them done in about the same time, if not less, as epoxy, the tedious act of continuously reapplying new layers every 4 hours 12 times can be a pain.
Epoxy, on the other hand, has several disadvantages when compared to CrystaLac.
The main issue with epoxy is its safety problems. To properly use epoxy in a safe way, you must get several pieces of safety equipment, including a ventilator mask, goggles, gloves, a tarp to lay underneath your work surface, and more.
You also have to work in an area that has good ventilation. It wouldn’t be safe for other members of your family for you to use epoxy inside the house. This can be a big concern for those crafting moms who are looking for a safe way to craft around their spouses and children.
Epoxy also requires mixing of two parts, and when you mix those parts, the chemical fumes begin releasing. This is a process that takes several minutes to fully mix, but once mixed, it’s already begun curing so you must work quickly.
If you’re not careful, epoxy can also cause distortions or bubbles in your finish. These imperfections may be fine if you’re working on a project for yourself, but when you’re selling products made with epoxy, you can’t sell items that have bubbles in the finish. You can, however, minimize bubbles with the use of a torch or vacuum chamber.
Epoxy also takes longer to fully cure. The cure time for epoxy is around 72 hours, sometimes more, even if it may feel done to the touch after only a few hours. You must let epoxy fully cure for it to be safe to handle.
CrystaLac Vs Epoxy For Tumblers
Overall, when comparing CrystaLac and epoxy for use with making tumblers, CrystaLac products are the winner. They’re safer, easier, cure faster, and provide a durable, shiny finish.
When you’re making something that someone’s going to be putting their mouth on and drinking out of, the safety factor is important. Your customers want to know that their products are made in a way that’s safe for use and won’t harm them.
Another great quality about CrystaLac is that crafting customers have said their customer service is top-notch. If you call with questions, they’re more than happy to answer any you may have.
They provide friendly and knowledgeable customer service, which is great when working with a new product.
There are also lots of color options available for you to mix in with your top-coat product to still provide you with a wide array of color selections for your customers.
If you have to wear a bunch of protective equipment and follow strict safety procedures to even use epoxy, chances are it may make customers wary of putting their mouths on it even after it’s fully cured.
And it’s important to consider the safety of yourself and your family as you work on your craft, and if the epoxy isn’t safe to use, it may be best to choose another option.
Other Crafts For CrystaLac And Epoxy
Although tumblers are the most common items made using CrystaLac products, there are plenty of other items you can make with them. They go well on wine glasses as well, which are becoming more and more popular as a customized cup choice.
You can still use CrystaLac when working with keychains, you just can’t use it in a silicone mold. But if you have a keychain that only involves dipping or brushing application of the sealant, CrystaLac is perfect.
CrystaLac even has base products that work on metal, wood, ceramic, plastic, and glass, helping you craft to your heart’s content!
Up Next: Can You Pour Epoxy Over Cured Epoxy?