How to color clear epoxy resin – coloring resin

How to color clear epoxy resinHow to color clear epoxy resin

 

Originally written August 2018.  Updated May 2020.

Let’s talk a little about coloring your resin. There are a few things you can do and a few things you can’t do when it comes to coloring resin.  Knowing these guidelines will help ensure resin coloring success.  Then, once you get a handle on the rules of how to color clear epoxy resin, you can learn when to break them.

To get the best results when coloring resin, use colorants designed specifically to color the resin you are working with.  There are two reasons for this:

1. By using the same brand of resin and colorants, you can be assured that your resin is going to cure the way you expect.  This means that the resin should not cure any differently (hardness, clarity, etc.) than without the colors added.

2. Colors designed specifically for a brand of resin should also cure with that color.  i.e. the colors shouldn’t fade or turn a different color once added to the resin.

Can you use one brand’s colors with another brand’s resin?

The answer is *yes*, but with a footnote.  The footnote is that whenever I have done that I have never had any curing problems. I have, however, gotten a different color than I was expecting.

If you have ever purchased a resin kit and noticed that the hardener is a little yellow, you may find that the resin part has blue added to it.  When you mix the two parts together, the result will be clear.   I have experienced problems where I used one brand’s green, yellow and/or blue and put it into a different brand’s resin only to get a color I wasn’t expecting despite the resin curing normally.  You can see what I’m talking about in the results of one of my resin experiments.

Now that you know the basic resin coloring rules, let’s try to break them.  It’s one of the neat things I would encourage you to do with resin.

Here are my basic resin coloring guidelines if you want to try non-traditional colorants:

  1. 1. Try and use as little of the color as possible. Add until you get the effect you want, then stop.  Resin hates moisture, so you don’t want to add any more moisture than is absolutely necessary.

2. Make sure the colorant is as dry as possible. I have used eye shadows and spices from my kitchen cabinet that were not clumped and still a loose powder.

3. Understand the resin you are working with before you try to color it. For example, epoxies can be forgiving about colorants. Polyurethanes, not so much. Something you might ordinarily use to color an epoxy might have great results but may not work with a polyurethane. Polyurethanes are incredibly moisture sensitive.

What are some things you can try to use to color resin?

  1. 1. Acrylic paints.  Go with no more than one part paint to ten parts mixed resin.  Use even less if you can.
  2. Note:  When it comes to acrylic paints, you get what you pay for. Some are inexpensive because they have a lot of water in them. It’s why sometimes when you use acrylic paints, your resin cures rubbery, bendy or not at all. If you want to try acrylic paints, try the ones that cost more because the color is more concentrated. You’re going to get more color in the same amount of paint than what you would in a cheaper paint.
  3. Another note:  Good acrylic paint pigments are about as expensive as resin colors. You are not necessarily going to save yourself any money.

2. Alcohol based colors.

Note:  Some alcohol colors will not keep their color in resin. I have used some brands that are not meant to color resin and have had problems with the pink and purple tones staying pink and purple in the resin.  They will disappear.

3. Powders such as micas and eyeshadows.

4. Glitters

5. Kitchen spices

6. Sidewalk chalk

7. Water color paints

What doesn’t work to color resin?

Oil paints.  They make a globby mess with your resin.

Nail polish. It turns your resin an ugly amber.

Latex paint is hit or miss for me.  I have used it sometimes only to find it can make your resin stringy.

My parting advice?  Keep a resin journal.  Write down your formulas and what you did.  It will be a great way for you to recreate (or not!) something later.

What do you like to use to color clear epoxy resin?

Unpublished Blog Posts of Resin Obsession, LLC © 2018 Resin Obsession, LLC

Like this post? You may be interested in  Resin Crafting Tips for beginners

57 Comments

Ashley

I’ve tried to use alcohol ink and even resin specific coloring but when I use colors my resin doesn’t dry

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Katherine Swift

Hi Ashley, it sounds like you are using too much ink. Try less in your next project.

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Sabrina Lee Peart

did I miss you talking about what to use to color polyester resins? I went through it pretty fast.

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Katherine Swift

I didn’t cover polyester, but in general, if it can be used for an epoxy, it can be used for polyester.

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Katherine Swift

I’m afraid I’ve never mixed white ink with alcohol. I don’t have any advice to share.

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stella

I am making dice, but i am wondering what I can add to give it a wispy effect without mixing? Does anyone have any ideas?

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Katherine Swift

Hi Stella, Have you tried adding color to a toothpick, then drawing it through the resin?

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stella

So normally that would work, but since I am making resin dice, with a mold I cannot see through or see what I am doing, it doesn’t come out properly.

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kelly mcgowan

How much additional catalyst should you add if you are adding color (if any)

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Katherine Swift

Hi Kelly, that’s a great question! It depends on the color you are using. Many will not require extra catalyst, but if you aren’t sure, check in with the manufacturer of the color you are using to get their specific advice.

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K.Young

Sometimes/usually colors made for polyester resin can’t be used in epoxy. Never use colors made for silicone mold epoxy resin.

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Katherine Swift

I haven’t had an experience where colors for polyester resin also didn’t work in epoxy. I would love to hear more.

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Phillip

Hello I have a question after sanding and prepping the resin piece for polishing what do I use to make it shine

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Judy Koeblitz

Clarify which type of resin Ice Resin is. You always refer to epoxy resin, and polyester resin, and somehow I’m never quite sure which is which. I have used acrylic paint with my Ice Resin and also Alcohol Inks and have not had a problem. I have also used Pearl Ex, and have fortunately also not had a problem. I used to always use nothing but resin transparencies, or opaque’s but they are not cheap and was looking for a less expensive means of coloring. Thanks Much

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Robin

I have a question, what am I doing wrong I’ve noticed on some of my pours that when my resin dries it leaves valleys,where it just won’t stay completely covering the painting, can you please tell me what I’m doing wrong?

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Vickie

Was it a paint pour and Did you use silicone in it? I have had that happen to me when I did not clean the silicone well enough from the canvas before I poured resin?

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claire nizet

Bonjour à vous,
Que puis je utiliser pour faire des effets de trous dans la peinture résine époxy, et voir la peinture en dessous? Comme si la résine faisait de la dentelle irrégulière? Je ne sais pas si je me fais bien comprendre!!

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Dave

I have done a couple table pours but I’m having a hard time finding what to use for like a crystal clear blue or green etc.For a sea through colored epoxy.

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Allen hudson

Hi there ive bought some epoxy resin foor a floor and worktop from metallic magic im just wondering can i use any acrylic paint to colour it as a primer
Many thanks

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Bob

if you use glitter it will all come to the top when using a heat gun to get rid of bubbles

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Dami

I’ve used a*tiny* amount of food coloring and it worked great, India ink is what I’ve used most often outside of resin pigments.

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Jack Greenhill

Please can you tell me what to do to get skin tone I have a little dolls head that I need to copy Thanks Jacky

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Brian Dickey

I am on the step of needing to mix resin to pour for a doming layer for some laser cut pendants I’m making. Is there no way around having to mix the minimum amount of 1 oz (.5 oz for each part) the tech told me over the phone with this Alumilite Clear Cast Expoxy resin? Because this is unfortunate. I used some older ICE resin with ink for the base layers and used maybe 1/16th of that 1 oz I mix for the base layer for about 9 pendants and had to let the rest cure and throw away. For this upcoming doming layer on the 9 pendants it means that I will also have to have a whole lot of additional new pendant frames ready to go to use 1 oz. I create the pendant frames by cutting them from wood with my laser machine. As mentioned I only 9 of them now cut out with base layers with black coloring already done. They are each about 3 inches in height and two inches wide. I will cut out more to put in base layers for the new ones to use up the resin I will mix. Is there no way to make smaller batches in general with resin? Maybe the base layers can be softer if one uses less than the minimum? The problem with that is that my pendants don’t have backings. I was planning on adding either a layer to the backs or maybe spray with the clear gloss sealer. Thanks in advance 🙂 ~Brian

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Katherine Swift

Hi Brian, the minimum mixing amount is important because the mixture has to be able to generate enough heat for the resin to cure. This requires a minimum amount of resin and hardener to be mixed together, which varies amongst resins.

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Damion

I have had success with as little as 5ml (~0.169oz) of [72-hour] epoxy. With volumes that small the margin of error for measuring etc. is much less forgiving though, so measure as precisely as possible, and diligently scrape as much of the remnant component liquids from their measuring cups as you reasonably can so as to not lose component volume and thereby problematically deviate from the required proportions.

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Marcellé

I use a syringe to measure out small quantities, 2 ml of resin and hardner each. My resin has always cured hard. The resin syringe can be re-used but the hardner one has to be cleaned or just replaced every time.

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Damion

Marcellé, your use of syringes for measuring small quantities is such a good idea that I am almost annoyed at myself for not having thought of it.

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Brian Dickey

Hi Katherine, Thank you for taking the time to reply. I figured that was going to be the answer. Okay thank you. I will just need to have a lot of pendant frames available with each pour so I won’t waste it.

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Katherine Swift

Food coloring has too much water in it and can keep your resin from curing.

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Ewouda

We have a very warm climate (in South Africa) specific things that I need to keep in mind? Thank you for very helpful advice!

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Katherine Swift

Resin likes a temperature of the low 20’s C. Temperatures above that will reduce your pot time.

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Megan Lyons

hi what resin can be used on chopping boards ive got 4 different types and dont know which one will be food safe, also is there a resin that will rest cutting thanks

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Cynthia Craft

I am trying to make a clear yellow or orange. It is clear in smaller pieces but thicker pieces are opaque. How do I get the look I want?

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Viru

Which resin and hardener should be used -its first time, so plz let me know the names

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Debi Helm

when using micas in my resin once fully cured they tend to be over taken by one colour not necessarily the darkest , it tends to sort of flood into the middle by the time it’s cured. I’d like to try and achieve the agate look but can’t keep the colours Sections more defined
Thanks for any advice

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Katherine Swift

Hi Debi, try pouring your resin closer to the end of the pot time.

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Steven

I love the idea of the resin journal, logging what works and what doesn’t, ratios etc.

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