Epoxy resin is a common finishing product used to create a beautiful, durable clear coat over an object, commonly wood, plastic, or metal.
People love to use epoxy resin with their crafts because, once cured, it will protect your craft or project from damage while giving it a nice, shiny clear coating. It can also be used in molds to create clear or colorful works of art.
While epoxy has become a common final layer on food-related items such as tumblers and countertops, it may not be the best choice for these projects if food is going to come in contact with it.
So, is epoxy food-safe? Yes and no. Liquid epoxy is toxic and not food-safe, but completely cured epoxy is labeled food-safe by the FDA for short term use. However, it is not recommended for long-term contact with food, such as storage.
For projects like tumblers, epoxy is still fine because it doesn’t touch the beverage, but crafters should look into alternatives like CrystaLac just to be on the safe side.
We’ll go into all the details and give you everything you should know before using epoxy resin on a food surface.
What Is Epoxy Made Of?
Epoxy is a type of polymer, meaning that at its base chemical makeup, it’s formed by a molecular structure that has large molecules bonded together. Epoxy is part of a specific class of reactive prepolymers and polymers in the epoxide group.
Epoxy resin hardens, or cures, by a chemical reaction with heat and UV light. Although scientific chemicals can be intimidating, not all chemicals by themselves are harmful. Sodium and chloride are chemicals, but when mixed together, you get table salt.
No one should be scared or nervous to use epoxy resin. There are several safety measures to take when using epoxy, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Safety measures are necessary for all chemical reactions, regardless of the level of harmfulness.
When it comes to using epoxy with food products, you’ll just want to take extra precautions and plan your projects correctly. Even if your bottle of epoxy resin is labeled as “nontoxic” or “food-safe,” it may not actually be safe for your food. Very few epoxy resins are actually FDA approved for food-safe use.
Let’s talk a little more about what food-safe means so you can get a better understanding of how to use your epoxy resin properly.
What Does Food-Safe Mean?
The definition of food-safe will vary by government regulations per country, but in America, it will have to pass the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, requirements.
The FDA has a comprehensive list of substances deemed safe for food, specifically polymers.
While this list is too dense for any reader, you can search the document for the keyword “epoxides” and read more about how epoxide polymers are considered food-safe.
Even if a substance is marked food-safe, this doesn’t always mean it should be used for food in general. A substance can be marked as safe to come in contact with food, but not for food storage.
Epoxy is generally regarded as being safe to touch food and still eat, but not ideal to be eaten off of in the form of a plate.
To clarify, when we talk about epoxy being safe to touch food and still eat, we are specifically referring to cured epoxy. Liquid epoxy resin that has not been cured is always toxic and unsafe for any food or beverage.
When cured properly, however, there are specific brands of epoxy resin that are considered safe for food. This would be ideal to use if you’re going to make a table, countertop, tumbler, or any other object that may touch food or drink.
Types Of Food-Safe Epoxy
The important thing to remember when looking for food-safe epoxy is searching for that FDA approval.
Many epoxy resin companies will claim to be food-safe but will not carry the FDA approval to back it up. Unless the product has actual FDA approval, we recommend steering clear for use with food-related projects.
Instead, there are three products to choose from if you’re looking for food-safe epoxy. The first brand is Stone Coat Countertops, and they make an epoxy kit that is FDA-approved food-safe.
This epoxy resin is ideal for countertops, as implied by the name Stone Coat Countertops. You can place food on it for a short time and even do quick food preparations.
All the ways you would normally use your kitchen counters are still safe with this epoxy, as long as it’s properly mixed, applied, and cured. It’s listed specifically as being “food-safe for incidental contact.” This means it can touch food but shouldn’t be used for long-term food storage.
The second brand is ZDSticky, who also make a food-safe epoxy resin kit. You may start to notice that even with these brands who have FDA food-safe approval, they still include warnings and precautions to ensure their product is used correctly.
ZDSticky provides an epoxy resin that is food-safe and VOC free, so you should feel safe to use it for countertops and tables. This product does state that it works best with wood, so keep that in mind.
The final brand for food-safe epoxy resin is MAX EPOXY SYSTEMS, who have created MAX CLR epoxy. MAX CLR epoxy is FDA compliant for brief-use direct food contact, meaning food can come in direct contact with the cured surface for a brief time and still be considered safe to eat.
Just as with Stone Coat Countertops and ZDSticky, the MAX EPOXY SYSTEMS epoxy is FDA approved and ideal for use with countertops, tables, and tumblers.
How To Apply Epoxy
The best way to ensure you’re properly applying epoxy is by following the exact manufacturer instructions. We cannot stress this enough. Each manufacturer may have similar instructions, but some may vary slightly. It’s vital to follow the instructions exactly.
Even food-safe epoxy can become hazardous and toxic to humans if it’s not mixed, applied, or cured properly.
Epoxy generally comes in a two-step set with resin and hardener. Make sure you follow the direction to ensure proper mixing, then pour correctly and smooth as needed when applying.
Allow the epoxy the maximum listed time to cure fully according to the package directions. We even recommend giving it a little extra time, just to be on the safe side.
Ensure all environmental conditions are met. If the epoxy is best kept at a certain temperature, make sure to keep the room where it’s being left to cure at that temperature.
The general idea is to mix, apply, and cure. Follow each of these steps to the manufacturer’s specifications and you’ll be set to properly apply your epoxy resin.
How To Wash Epoxy
Epoxy resin should not be exposed to high heat. For this reason, any products with epoxy resin should be hand washed only and never put in the dishwasher. If your project is a tumbler, be sure to hand wash it in warm water with soap.
If you use the epoxy resin on a table or countertop, simply use a wet, warm dishrag or paper towel with dish soap and clean the surface, then take another rag or paper towel to rinse the surface, then dry.
Be sure to always use mild dish soap. Nothing intense or corrosive should be used to clean an epoxy surface.
You can use mineral oil in small amounts to clean the epoxy monthly and maintain its surface, but be sure not to use too much or do this too frequently. If too much is used, it can cause a hazy and dull look to your epoxy.
Projects For Food-Safe Epoxy
So far, we’ve mentioned countertops, tables, and tumblers as the ideal projects for food-safe epoxy. You can make your own countertops with wood and finish them with epoxy resin, making them sealed and safe for use.
This will help prevent any mold or mildew that could grow from the countertops getting wet. It can also help prevent bacteria from seeping into the wood.
The same idea goes for a wooden table. If you’re a woodworker, you’ve probably already made a table or two. You can use epoxy resin to cure your tables, whether they’re small end tables to go next to a couch or bed, or a dining room table for eating off of.
Tumblers, or cups that come with lids you can use on the go, are also great projects for epoxy resin.
It’s best to use food-safe epoxy for these because although the epoxy will not go on the inside of the tumbler, it will coat the outside and your lips will touch it when you drink from the cup.
Some people use epoxy resin to create their own wooden cutting boards. You can certainly try this as well, though we don’t recommend it because of the heavy cutting the surface would take.
You can instead use food-safe epoxy resin to seal a wooden serving board, sometimes made to look like a cutting board but meant to serve foods like charcuterie.
Is It Safe To Eat Off Epoxy Resin?
Even if the epoxy is labeled as food-safe, it’s still not a good idea to eat off of an epoxy surface as a dinner plate.
You can certainly eat a piece of food that has fallen off of your plate onto a table that’s been cured with epoxy. This kind of incidental contact is safe for food and you should feel free to take a bite.
Epoxy resin just shouldn’t be used for vessels that will contain food, such as plates, bowls, or storage containers.
Be sure to read the label of your epoxy resin and look for the FDA approved food-safe label. If your epoxy resin has not been FDA approved, it should not be considered food-safe and you should choose a different brand.
What Epoxy Is Safe For Tumblers?
You can use any of the brands we’ve listed above as being food-safe epoxy resins, or find one of your own that is food-safe and heat resistant.
Many people use tumblers interchangeably for both hot and cold beverages, so you want to ensure your epoxy resin can withstand the heat of a morning coffee or tea.
Aside from the brands we’ve listed above, you can also try out Envirotex or Counter Culture DIY. Both of these brands have great epoxy resins that are ideal for making tumblers.
When using epoxy resin for a tumbler, ensure that the epoxy has fully cured before using the cup. If not fully cured, there is still toxicity in the chemicals that pose a threat for human consumption.
What Clear Coat Is Food-Safe?
If you want to use a type of clear finish coating for your food-related project and want to avoid epoxy resin, there are still plenty of other options out there for you.
Shellac is a commonly used option to create a food-safe film finish that is both water resistant and available in multiple forms for any project.
Another option would be to use polyurethane. This is a common choice for woodworkers and will create a great and durable seal for your project.
A popular product for tumblers called CrystaLac is actually a water-based polyurethane. It’s being used with more and more frequency as people learn more about epoxy resin and want to find a safer alternative to use. We have another article dedicated to CrystaLac Vs. Epoxy for you to check out if you’re interested.
Woodworkers also have the option of using spar urethane. This is similar to polyurethane, but with some key differences. You can find more in-depth information on the differences between polyurethane and spar urethane in our article here.
Is There Dishwasher Safe Epoxy?
No. Regardless of the type of epoxy resin, it should never be considered dishwasher-safe.
Epoxy resin will soften, deform, or become toxic when exposed to high heat. Dishwashers run with cycles of extremely hot water to burn off any bacteria on the dishware.
Epoxy resin would break down in the dishwasher and possibly cause your other dishes in the dishwasher with it to become toxic.
More Information On Food-Safe Epoxy – Recommended Videos
If you’d like to learn more about food-safe epoxy, we recommend doing some independent research by reading other helpful articles like ours or watching some YouTube videos where people provide more details.
This video by YouCanMakeThisToo titled Food-Safe Finishes and Epoxy Cutting Boards is a great place to start. It’s full of specific details and information all about food-safe finishes, including epoxy resin.
You can also find videos that simply give you information about epoxy and resin in general, such as this one by Wood By Wright How 2.
He has a video, All About Epoxy and Resin in Woodworking, that gives you a lot of great information on using epoxy resin with woodworking specifically.
If you’re a crafter who spends more time making tumblers than tables, you can check out the video by Mr. Nola’s Glitter that gives a step-by-step guide for How To Epoxy A Tumbler.
Another great video about epoxy with tumblers is by Flynn Sisters Boutique. In it, they explain the type of epoxy they use and the recommended amounts. You can check out their helpful video here!
Up Next: Can You Pour Epoxy Over Cured Epoxy?