Do I really need to use a torch for surface bubbles in my resin?
If you're intimidated by the idea of using a torch ... please don't be.
From how to fill them and when to use them, we are going to walk you through everything you need to know about using a torch to eliminate bubbles easily and efficiently.
Removing Bubbles: A Torch vs Other Methods
You've seen us use torches in all of our videos and you may be wondering why they are the best line of defence against bubbles.
Let us explain...
After you've carefully measured and mixed equal amounts of resin and hardener and you've poured and spread your resin, you're going to notice bubbles rising to the surface of the resin. This is because our clever chemist formulated ArtResin with a bubble release agent. A bubble release agent allows for easy de-gassing to encourage bubbles to rise to the surface immediately so you can torch them out before the resin starts to thicken and cure.
Some of these bubbles will pop on their own once hitting the surface, but to get a flawless, glass like surface, we'll need to get rid of the rest. There are few different approaches to getting rid of resin bubbles. Let's go through a few of the more popular methods:
Bubbles will pop when you poke them with a pin or a toothpick, yes, but it's an unrealistic way of way of going about it and would be impossible to cover a large piece of artwork in 45 minutes ( ArtResin's working time )
Method 1: Popping Bubbles With A Pin
VERDICT: Use a toothpick or pin for last minute touch-ups only :)
Method 2: Blowing On Bubbles
Blowing on bubbles can cause the bubbles to pop, this is true, but it's also a super slow process. This method might work on very small pieces like jewellery, but just like with popping bubbles, it's not a realistic method for most pieces of artwork.
VERDICT: Not efficient
While it's true that heat definitely helps in the fight against bubbles, the heat of a hair dryer just isn't intense enough. And just think of all that dust and hair in your hair dryer, or floating around in the air, that you're going to be blasting all over your vulnerable, wet artwork. That's just asking for trouble! Noooo thanks!
Method 3: Using A Hair Dryer
VERDICT: Save the hair dryer for your blowout.
Okay ... things are looking up. The heat from a heat gun is significantly hotter than you'd get from a hair dryer and it will certainly get rid of bubbles more efficiently than blowing through a straw or poking with a toothpick, but again, you're blowing a lot of air onto your wet resin, which brings with it the very good chance of blowing dust all over it too.
Method 4: Using A Heat Gun
VERDICT: Good start young grasshopper, but we're not quite Samurai level yet
💡TIP: Hair dryers and heat guns blow air around so some artists use this to their advantage when making flow art. Applying it to their wet piece, a heat gun or hair dryer pushes the tinted resin around creating cells, lacing and other cool effects! ( Artwork courtesy of @current_trade )
Method 4: Using A Butane Or Propane Torch
Okay, guys, now we're cooking with Crisco!
There is simply no match for the heat and intensity of a torch - it's the only method we use here at the ArtResin studio. Not only will a torch help get rid of bubbles, but the flame actually incinerates surface dust in the process. Once you've used a torch, you'll never want to go back to any other method!
So whether you feel more comfortable with an easy-to-use handheld tool like our Artist Torch for small pieces, or a bigger propane version like our Artist's Propane Torch Head ( a must for large pieces ) a flame is your best bet to really zap out bubbles for a flawless finish.
VERDICT: If you want pro results, a torch is where it's at!
Butane vs Propane Torch
You've seen us reference both butane and propane torches, but what are the differences? How do you know which one to use and when?
Both butane and propane are similar in that they are both ‘liquefied petroleum gas’ and burn at the same temperature. Whether you use a butane or propane torch, both achieve excellent results and it really comes down to personal preference. Our suggestion is that if you're new to using a torch, start with butane. When you become comfortable, invest in a propane torch.
Here's a little more information on butane and propane torches:
Butane Advantages & Disadvantages
Butane torches are a great introductory tool and will do the job nicely on most pieces of artwork:
- Butane is a ‘cleaner fuel’ and produces a bit less carbon monoxide.
- Butane torches are more compact and portable.
- Butane is a bit cheaper than propane.
- You need to ensure you have the correct fuel canister to fit your torch.
- Butane doesn’t do that well in colder temperatures.
- Butane's lower storage pressure means smaller flames
- Butane torches hold less fuel so need to be refilled more often.
Propane Advantages & Disadvantages
The larger flame of a propane torch is perfect for removing bubbles from big pieces:
- Most popular world-wide so tanks are easy to find.
- Propane burns and stores better in the cold.
- Propane is stored under higher pressure, allowing for larger size.
- Propane flames as it shoots out of the torch.
- Propane's larger fuel tank gives you a longer run time on larger pieces of art.
How To Use A Torch
There are a couple of important things to keep in mind when torching:
- Hold the torch a few inches above your artwork, just close enough so that the flame lightly kisses the surface of the resin. You should see the bubbles disappear before your eyes. If you don't see bubbles popping, move in just a little bit closer.
- Keep your torch moving at all times in a back and forth motion as if you were ironing clothes. Give the entire surface of your artwork one or two good passes with the torch, until all the bubbles have disappeared.
⚠️PLEASE NOTE: Always exercise common sense when working with a naked flame:
- Always point the flame away from you when igniting or using the torch.
- Never leave a flame unattended.
- Keep the lit torch well away from flammable substances.
⚠️PLEASE NOTE: When it comes to torching, less is more. You don't want to end up over torching your resin, which is what may happen if you hold your torch too close to the resin surface or in one spot for too long. Over torching can result in dimples or ripples in your cured resin surface, yellowing and even burn marks. Read more about over torching in our blog.
How To Operate A Resin Torch
Both butane and propane torches are straightforward to fill and easy to operate. Let's run through everything you need to know, from fuelling them to using them:
How To Fill A Butane Torch
When you purchase a butane torch, you'll also need to purchase a canister of butane fuel to fill it with: butane refill canisters can easily be found at any hardware store.
Before you purchase a butane refill canister, be sure to check the valve at the bottom of the torch to ensure you buy the correct one:
- if your butane torch has a recessed refill valve: you'll need to choose a refill canister has a long nozzle and a narrow neck to fit.
- if your butane torch has a flat based refill valve: it should work with any type butane canister
How To Operate A Butane Torch
This the part that seems intimidating ( but totally isn't ) ... turning on the torch 😊
Here's how to do it, step by step:
1. First, locate the Gas Gage on the side of the torch and slide it down to the lowest setting.
2. Next, find the Child Safety Lock located under the Ignition Button and slide it down until it clicks into place.
3. Then, placing your thumb on the Ignition Button, press it down to ignite the flame. Keeping your thumb depressed on the Ignition Button, turn the torch to locate the Continuous Lock Button located on the side of the torch. Slide the Continuous Lock button to the 'on' position to maintain the flame. Adjust the intensity of the flame using the gas gage. Now your torch is ready to go!
How To Operate A Propane Torch
When you purchase a Propane Torch Head, you also need to purchase a propane tank to attach it to. You can easily find propane tanks ( like the ones below ) at the hardware store. Either one works perfectly well!
1. Remove the cap from the propane tank and screw the torch head on.
2. Once the torch head is screwed onto the tank, open the valve to release the gas, and click the ignition button to light the flame. Adjust the valve to increase or decrease the intensity of the flame.
And there you have it!
So whether it's a handheld butane torch or a propane torch for larger pieces, once you try out a torch you'll never go back to any other method to remove bubbles from your resin, we promise!
Check out our blog on Surface Preparation Before Applying Epoxy Resin.