One of the things I love about living in Florida is that our winters tend to be quite reasonable. That doesn’t mean we don’t have any cold days, but I know that when the cold ones are here, warm ones are only a couple of days away. It also means that I generally don’t have to worry about casting my resin in those cold temperatures. I know many of you aren’t so lucky, so here are a few of my cold weather resin casting tips.
Before we get into that, here are some basic resin principles you need to know:
Resin and the hardener (or catalyst) are two inert substances by themselves. Once they are mixed, a chemical reaction occurs that produces HEAT. This is what causes your resin to cure (or harden). Ideally, for this reaction to occur, your room temperature needs to be 70 to 75 degrees F. That’s not so difficult to achieve during the summer, but during the winter, it can be tough. Here are some things you can do when you are cold-weather resin casting:
Here are some cold weather resin tips to make sure your resin cures hard and clear:
1. Create a resin ‘hot box’. Take a large cardboard box, put in a gooseneck lamp with an incandescent bulb. Turn on the lamp while your resin projects are curing. The incandescent bulb will create a little bit of heat and the cardboard box will keep the heat inside. Be sure your projects are covered, as those bulbs also tend to attract dust. If you’re lucky enough, you could even use a metal cabinet in your garage. It would even have shelves for your projects!
This article shows how to use a hand-warmer to create heat for resin curing.
2. Cast your resin in a smaller room and use a space heater. Make something like a bathroom or a walk-in closet your resin casting room during the winter. Turn on a small space heater while you are casting your resin. The heater should allow you to bring the small space up to the low 70’s without turning on the full heat to your house and breaking the bank on your utility bill.
**On both of the points above, please don’t leave anything unattended.
3. Make sure your resin is warm before you use it. If your resin bottles feel cold to the touch, put them in a warm water bath for 5 minutes at a time before using them. Make sure to dry your bottles well before using them. You don’t want that water to drip into your resin!
4. You may have to consider a different resin. Safety is very important, and I love hearing that many of you will have an open window if necessary while casting. For me, I don’t find any problems casting epoxy resin indoors. Even if it is a warm room (while the rest of the house is cold), having a small fan on simply circulating the air is enough for me to work with the resin. Something like polyester resin, though, is a different story. I NEVER cast that resin inside my house because the smell is heinous. If I need to cast polyester, I can wait a few days until the outside temperature has gotten back above 70 F. For those of you in a cold climate, you may have to wait until summer arrives again and use something different in the meantime.
5. Warm your mold before pouring the resin. Before pouring your warm resin in your warm room into your cold mold, run a heat gun over the mold first. Warning — plastic molds can warp or melt if the heat gun is left on them too long.
6. Give yourself more time. Just because your room is 67 degrees today and not 70 degrees, does it mean your resin won’t cure? No, of course not, but it will cure slower. Know that it’s going to take extra hours for your resin to cure if the room temperature is a little less than ideal.
What other changes do you make when it comes to cold temperature resin casting?
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