The crystal clarity of epoxy resin is a spectacular quality that renders it the material of choice for crafting all things beautiful. But the glassy charm doesn’t last forever.
Unfortunately, epoxy resin will take on a yellow to brown hue caused by radiation from UV rays. How soon depends on the quality of the epoxy resin and the duration and frequency of outdoor exposure.
Consequently, many epoxy craft enthusiasts choose to dye their epoxy to mask any yellowing in the future. Dyeing epoxy resin is also essential for realistic works like table rivers and molten lava and generally bringing crafts to life with color.
But what can you use to dye epoxy resin? You can use the available commercial resin dyes to dye epoxy resin. Inks and powdered colorants are also excellent options. You can even use household products like food dyes, if you know how to use it properly.
First attempt? Here’s an epoxy resin dyeing guide. Hop on as we dig deep into the types of dyes one can use to dye epoxy resin and the methods of doing It.
What You Can Use To Dye Epoxy Resin
If you are an art or craft enthusiast, you probably already have some color media at hand. But not just any color media can be used to dye epoxy resin.
Epoxy resin is a two-part resin where a resin and hardener are mixed in equal parts and left to cure. A completely cured epoxy resin is hardened and rock solid.
Unfortunately, certain types of color media may contain water, oil, or other additives in their makeup that don’t mingle well with epoxy. When such a colorant is introduced to the epoxy resin, it disturbs the balance.
For epoxy resin to harden well, the 1:1 ratio must be accurate, and any deviation has a negative impact. The epoxy resin will either fail to set altogether, harden but remain bendy, develop other problems like spotting, congealing, or a spongy look.
So then what can you use to dye epoxy? The following color mediums are the best for dyeing epoxy resin.
1. Liquid Epoxy Resin Dye
Epoxy resin dye is the best dye for epoxy resin. These are commercial inks or paints specially formulated for use with epoxy resin.
They are often produced by the very manufacturers that create epoxy resin. Therefore, the dye has undergone rigorous testing to ensure it mixes evenly without adverse effects on the epoxy resin they make.
There’s a close relationship between the polymers used to make epoxy resin and the prepolymers found in the dyes. As a result, the two blend really well and result in a smooth finish.
Epoxy resin dyes are typically liquid or less commonly in paste form and intensely pigmented. Being specialty dyes, they are expressly labeled for use with resin.
2. Pigment Powder
Pigment powders are dry synthetic colorants. These are what manufacturers or artists add to paint to give it a particular tint.
The powder can be mixed into epoxy resin without any issues cropping up. Its powdery state, however, means you’ll have to stir it in more thoroughly to blend.
It won’t dissolve as evenly or as smoothly as with a liquid dye, but you’ll achieve beautiful grainy effects.
Because this type of dye is highly concentrated, only a tiny amount is required to make a huge difference. It is, therefore, budget-friendly if you are dyeing epoxy resin in bulk or for commercial purposes.
Another advantage of powder pigments is the color variety. It is available in neon, glittery, and metallic colors too.
3. Alcohol ink
Alcohol inks work fantastic as dyes for epoxy resin. They are a highly concentrated coloring medium, and the liquid state makes blending in with the resin effortless.
The one downside with alcohol inks is that they are not a lightfast medium. The color brilliance fades gradually with long-term exposure to UV lights.
So if you’re planning on coloring epoxy resin crafts for outdoor use, you are better off choosing lightfast dye so that your crafts can stay pristine for longer. Otherwise, alcohol inks are great colorants for indoor use of epoxy resin.
Note that alcohol breaks down epoxy resin. It would be wise to use very little of it.
4. Household Products
If any of these dyes are not available to you, you might succeed with a few household products. Many crafters have reported good results with the following:
- Printer ink
If you have a home printer, you can use a little printer ink to color epoxy resin. It is brilliant and mixes smoothly. The ink is, however, lightfast.
- Food coloring
Food coloring is available in both liquid and powder. It is loaded with pigment and works great with epoxy resin. Dry powdered versions are recommended over the fluid ones. We have a whole article dedicated to using food coloring in resin, so check it out if you’re interested in this method.
You can even turn to your pantry for some bright-colored spices to color your epoxy. Turmeric and paprika are often utilized for this purpose.
- Ground clay/minerals/chalk
Could you access some colored clay, minerals, or even simple sidewalk chalk? Any of these work superbly as a colorant for your clear epoxy resin. Just grind it into a fine powder and mix it in.
After all, some powder pigments are made in part using these same natural minerals. Mica powder, for example, serves the same purpose as a dye in many pouring crafts, including epoxy resin.
- Eye shadow
Remember that old rainbow-colored eyeshadow palette set collecting dust in the drawer of your vanity? Well, since you never knew where to wear it to, it has found a worthy use. You can smash the cakes into a fine powder and make colorful powder dye for epoxy resin.
- Fine glitter
Do you have some colorful glitter left over from your glitter crafts? Glitter will not exactly dye your epoxy since it is insoluble. Still, you can achieve stunning optical effects with it on clear epoxy resin, as the colored glitter catches the light.
Can You Use Paint To Dye Epoxy Resin?
It is not recommended to use regular paint to dye epoxy resin. There are different types of paint, and each will give you different results.
Although some crafters allege to have dyed epoxy resin successfully using regular acrylic paint, you should take that advice with a grain of salt. Here’s why.
- Water-based acrylic paint
Some of your favorite paints are perhaps water-based paint acrylic paint. Unfortunately, epoxy resin and water are not friends and do not merge well.
Epoxy resin is somewhat the less dramatic resin, though, compared to other resins like polyurethane. Still, it is not advisable to use water-based acrylic paint with epoxy resin.
In addition to the water are also binders and other additives which make the outcome when mixed with epoxy unpredictable.
If you choose to experiment with the paint as a dye, maintain a 1:10 paint to epoxy ratio. A little too much, and your epoxy will turn out stringy or bendy. These paints may also dull the shine of epoxy.
- Oil paint
It is not advisable to use oil paints as a dye for epoxy resin. Oil paints are made with oil as their base, containing lipids. When lipids are combined with epoxy resin, the resulting mixture is a gloopy, lumpy mass.
- Latex paint
Latex paint and epoxy resin do not compound well. The result is a stringy unusable substance.
Dry watercolors seem like a good idea to dye epoxy resin, but its pigment concentration is too weak to have any significant color shift. You would need a ridiculously large amount of watercolors to actually dye epoxy. Besides, watercolors don’t combine readily with epoxy resin.
- Nail polish
Nail polish or nail varnish is used to paint nails and comes handy in a myriad of crafts as a paint substitute. Unfortunately, not this time.
Nail polish is not recommended to be mixed into epoxy resin. You might get away with minimal amounts, but the effects are often uncertain across epoxy resin brands.
Steps For Dyeing Epoxy Resin
If you’ve worked with epoxy resin before, this will be a walkover. The method is just the same with an additional step of dyeing the resin. Here is a step-by-step guide for dyeing Epoxy resin.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
Time is of the essence when working with epoxy resin. Therefore it is best to gather all the supplies you need in one place before you begin doing anything.
Once the epoxy and hardener are mixed, it is not the time to start looking for a stirring spoon or unboxing the dye. Every second counts as the hardening process commences almost immediately.
If you delay, the epoxy may become too thick to mix in the dye well. So get your mixing containers, stirring sticks, droppers, measuring cups, spoons, and the dye all together in one place.
Also, make sure you read the instructions on how to use the dye before hand.
Step 2: Wear Protective Gear
It is prudent to don protective gear at all times when working with epoxy resin.
First of all, epoxy resin gives off some fumes during the reaction of resin and hardener. You do not want to inhale that. Therefore a respirator mask is essential, especially if you’ll also be working with dusty or powdered colorants.
In addition to that, you’ll need gloves to protect your hands, an apron, and some form of cover for your work surface, such as newspapers. Since you’ll be working with dye, you don’t want the colors to accidentally get anywhere that they are not wanted.
Step 3: Measure The Ingredients
The third step is to measure all the ingredients that you’ll be mixing together as accurately as you can.
Begin by measuring the resin and the hardener in two separate containers. These must be equal halves or a 1:1 ratio. You also want to prepare the dye if there’s any preparation needed.
Read the instructions on the packaging if it is a commercial resin dye and follow the measurement guidelines. For other colorants, you want to measure the weight of the dye you’ll be incorporating in the epoxy resin.
The dye should not be more than 5% of the total weight or volume of your resin. For example, if you were to make 100 lbs of epoxy resin, you would have to prepare 5 lbs of dye.
Grind powdered dyes finely and ensure they are not clumpy. For liquid dye, shake the bottle well for anything settled at the bottom to mix before use.
Step 4: Combine Epoxy And Hardener
Carefully combine the epoxy and hardener and stir to mix them evenly. A heat gun may be used to get rid of any air bubbles by pushing them to the edges of the container to pop.
Step 5: Add Color
Once you are sure that they are adequately mixed, it is time to dye the epoxy. How you dye the epoxy will depend on the color effect you are going for.
- For even color distribution:
Add the dye immediately when the epoxy is still fluid. Do it gradually while stirring.
Continue adding more dye until you arrive at the desired color intensity. You can use a dropper, a spoon, or a small graduated cup to make precise increments.
You have to stir really well if you want the colors distributed evenly and not sink to the bottom. Do it gently though to prevent more bubble formation.
Powder dye needs more work stirring as it tends to clump up. Once done, transfer the now dyed epoxy resin mixture into a mold.
- For layered colors:
If layering different colors, you must separate the batch of epoxy resin for each color.
Using different containers, subdivide the batch of clear epoxy resin already mixed with hardener into two or three parts and dye them different colors.
Now pour the dyed epoxy one color after the other into the mold, waiting a few minutes between each colored pour. The colors will appear in layers.
- For patterns:
If you don’t want a complete color distribution but a pattern such as swirls, the dye is added after pouring the epoxy mixture into the mold and not before as with the other two.
Any pattern would be distorted if you did it before pouring. So it makes sense to dye it when the epoxy resin is already in the mold and will not be disturbed again.
Once the resin and hardener are properly mixed, pour it into the mold or final surface, e.g. tables. Let it sit for about an hour or until it is semi-fluid. A jelly state keeps the pattern more stable than a fluid state where the dye moves freely.
Use a toothpick or a wooden popsicle stick to pick up the dye and gently place it on the epoxy in the mold.
Swish the stick around the epoxy a bit in a circular or wavy manner to get swirling patterns or marble effects. You might also just want to dust the top surface with color.
Step 6: Curing
Allow the resin to sit undisturbed and harden completely for the recommended hours before removing it from the mold.
In summary, epoxy resin dye is the best dye for epoxy resin. It is brilliantly colored, mixes smoothly, and has no chance of negatively affecting the epoxy resin.
And even If you choose to use any other colorant, these final tips should guide your process.
- Always create a small dye test batch to see how things go before commiting your entire epoxy resin. You don’t want to ruin all your expensive epoxy resin.
- Use an epoxy resin brand you are familiar with or have handled a couple of times before, before tinting it so that you know what’s normal or not.
- Combining the same brand of epoxy resin and resin tint or dye almost always guarantees success.
- Avoid water-based and oil-based dyes. If unsure, opt for dry dyes over fluid ones.
- Check that the dye is lightfast. If not, it will fade with time, and the difference will be more noticeable on colored resin.
- Most importantly, go for pigment-packed dyes. That way, you won’t deviate from the 1:1 ratio too much as you’ll need just a tiny amount to achieve desired colors.
- You might not need all of the 5% dye if it is highly concentrated. But if the color is still faint after adding all the dye, you should never increase the amount of dye. Your next course of action is a colorant with a more concentrated pigment.
And that is how you add color to epoxy resin. Happy epoxy resin dyeing!