Alcohol ink is a medium that is really making a splash in today's modern art, craft and DIY projects. From alcohol ink painting or painting alcohol ink on glass, to alcohol ink art on yupo paper, on ceramics, stone, leather (and other non-porous surfaces), as colorant in resin, or if you work with alcohol ink markers, you are going to want to learn more about working with this medium.
Alcohol ink art is versatile, really fun and beautiful. But is alcohol ink safe to work with? Is alcohol ink toxic? Let's explore that question and discover ways to work safely with alcohol ink.
Alcohol ink and alcohol markers are a very highly pigmented, fast drying ink medium. It is fast drying because, like the name says, it is ink that is based in alcohol, which is why it is such a fun medium to use on non porous surfaces such as yupo paper. Many artists love working with alcohol ink and alcohol markers.
Alcohol evaporates quickly off of your substrate leaving a highly pigmented ink, which means you are breathing the evaporated alcohol in as your art cures.
Yes, alcohol ink and alcohol markers are toxic due to the evaporation of alcohol which affects your respiratory tract. The evaporating alcohol become vapors in the air that you are breathing in, so you need to protect yourself with a proper respirator mask from these microscopic, airborne, toxic particles. Especially if you are also using added isopropyl alcohol as a blending solution.
According to Healthline, you can get poisoning from exposure to too much isopropyl alcohol as blending solution:
Isopropyl alcohol (IPA), also referred to as isopropanol, is a chemical that’s commonly found in rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizers, and certain cleaning products. IPA poisoning occurs when your liver is no longer able to manage the amount of IPA in your body. (Source: Healthline)
Alcohol ink art supplies can be diluted with isopropyl alcohol to blend and create movement in alcohol ink, and it is common practice. So if you are working in a closed in room with alcohol ink and isopropyl alcohol, yes, it can be a toxic environment, whether you buy your alcohol ink from a company or you make your own homemade alcohol ink.
How do you protect yourself and work safely with alcohol ink and isopropyl alcohol?
There are a number of things you can do to work safely with alcohol ink mediums and alcohol ink supplies. These include:
Working outdoors with alcohol ink will allow for constant fresh air as you are in a well ventilated area. Doing this will be helpful for your lungs and respiratory tract, although it has its pros and cons:
Wearing a full face respirator mask is highly recommended when working with any alcohol ink or alcohol marker. A full face respirator will protect your eyes, nose, respiratory tract and lungs from toxic alcohol ink fumes and isopropyl alcohol.
It is important to know that when you use alcohol for alcohol ink art, you need to breathe in fresh air and the easiest way to do this is with the proper safety equipment. A popular choice is a respirator mask, but you need to know how to purchase the proper mask for these fumes.
The respirator we are recommending is also handy and versatile for many different projects and chemicals around the house such as:
With this information in mind you are going to first look for the proper respirator for alcohol ink fumes in terms of filters, and also one that has adjustable straps so you can fit it properly to your face.
A good thing about adjustable straps on a respirator is that others in the house can use the mask as well because it will fit any size of head.
The alcohol in alcohol ink is ethanol, which is an organic, chemical compound. Once ethanol begins to evaporate, it becomes a volatile organic compound, or a VOC.
This is the same with an isopropyl alcohol blending solution which is often used with alcohol ink. For protection against these toxic alcohol vapors, your respirator for alcohol ink must have organic filters.
When looking for a full face respirator mask to work safely with alcohol ink, you are looking for one that protects you from VOC's and seals around your face properly. The respirator should feel comfortable on your face.
This is the best respirator mask for working with alcohol ink. This PD-100 Full Face Organic Vapor Respirator checks off the boxes for alcohol ink safety.
This respirator for alcohol ink safety offers:
We recommend purchasing your Parcil PD-100 Respirator directly from the manufacturer, as it comes with a 1-year factory warranty when purchased this way as well as a 30 day return option and free shipping.
We also use this respirator for epoxy resin for all of the above reasons as well. It is rated to protect you from organic vapors in resin as well. To watch a video of us putting this respirator on, you can watch it in our YouTube video below:
When working with alcohol ink, you will want to protect your skin by wearing the proper gloves. The area of highest exposure on your skin when dripping alcohol ink and isopropyl alcohol onto a substrate and blowing them around with an air brush, is your fingers and hands.
Latex is an excellent choice in the medical field as it protects hands against viruses and bacteria; however, when it comes to working with chemicals. Latex is not the safest choice of material for working with alcohol ink.
When working with alcohol ink, many of the MSDS say to wear "impervious gloves". So let's talk about gloves that will protect hands and fingers from alcohol and ink absorption.
Both nitrile and vinyl will protect your hands, it is a matter of preference for comfort when working with alcohol ink.
We prefer nitrile gloves, and you will often find us wearing a pink pair when we are working with alcohol inks, epoxy resins and other materials in our YouTube videos and in photos from our articles.
Working with alcohol ink is fun and a very enjoyable medium to play with, but make sure you are properly protected when doing so to maintain safety. Especially if you are varnishing your alcohol ink art afterwards as well.
Be sure to save a pin from this article to your Pinterest board or share with any social groups you are a part of. Spread the safety word.
Here are some alcohol ink articles you may also find useful:
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