Epoxy is a permanent adhesive used on many types of surfaces, from plastic to metal. Once epoxy has hardened, removing it can be tricky. Epoxy starts in a liquid state. As it is mixed, the substance temperature heats up until it starts to cool off and harden. You can remove epoxy by getting it back to a liquid, or at least gel-like, state so that you can scrape it from the surface. Removing epoxy can be accomplished relatively easily, as long as you take the proper safety precautions and are patient.
Using Heat to Remove Epoxy
1Put on gloves and goggles. When heating epoxy, vapors will be produced which are not friendly to your eyes. Do not settle for wearing glasses. You need a pair of goggles that covers your eyes completely, sitting flesh against your skin, with no holes or air entry points. Similarly, you should wear rubber cloves which come down at least 3 inches from your wrist. If at all possible, find ones with elastic which will keep air from seeping in.
Wear clothes which cover your skin. Find a pair of tight pants, and a tight fitting long-sleeve shirt. If the shirt is button-up, make sure all the buttons are secure. This is meant to protect your skin from reacting to any vapors which will arise from heating the epoxy.
3Soak the surface in acetone. If the epoxy is attached to a wooden surface, soak the area in acetone for an hour or more before using heat to soften the epoxy. You can either place the object into acetone, or drip acetone onto the surface where the epoxy is set in. Acetone will only soak into a wooden surface.
- When dealing with epoxy on plastic, marble, cement, vinyl or metal, any chemical will interact with the top of the surface, but they do not penetrate down into the layers like they do with wood.
4Aim a heat gun at the epoxy for several minutes. The objective is to raise the epoxy temperature to over 200 degrees, its softening point. Work the heat gun in small strokes, rather than letting it maintain at the same position for minutes at a time. If the epoxy is on a plastic or wooden surface, keep an eye on the surface so you don’t warm it up too much and burn it.
- Rather than using a heat gun, you can use a soldering iron. After the iron is heated, apply it directly to a specific area of the epoxy bond line. This will soften the epoxy.
- If the epoxy you are seeking to heat is located on an object, rather than the floor tiling, you can place it on a hot plate. This will accomplish the same thing as the heat gun, and is more widely available in almost every home.
5Heat small areas at a time. You do not want to heat the entire bond line of epoxy at once. You will never be able to keep the epoxy hot for long enough. Instead, work on segments that are about 2-3 inches in length. After you have one segment done, work on the segment right next to the first. It will be easier to scrape off with a now open edge.
6Scrape off the heated epoxy. Use a putty knife, razor or any sharp object to scrape the epoxy off the surface. You may notice that the heat did not penetrate all the way down into all of the layers of epoxy. In this case, keep reheating the area and scrape until all the epoxy has been removed.
- Do not heat right after you have already heated an area. Wait a few minutes for the epoxy to cool off before you go back and reheat. Otherwise you could cause the area to catch on fire.
Freezing the Epoxy
1Wear safety gloves and goggles. You will need a pair of gloves that sits tight on the face, not letting any air in. You will also need a large pair of rubber gloves, ones that go down at least 3 inches from the wrist. This is for your own safety, so that you do not get refrigerant in your eyes, or on your skin. This is a dangerous chemical that could cause physical harm.
- You might also want to consider using a simple fabric face mask, so that you do not breathe in the vapors given off by the refrigerant.
Open your windows and doors. This allows air to move freely and carry vapors from the refrigerant outside. If you don’t open them, the fumes can build up, and make it very dangerous to breathe the air. As the airflow is moving, you should place your kids and pets in a safe room with the door closed. This will prevent them from breathing in fumes.
3Shake your can of refrigerant. Refrigerant sprays can be found in multiple brands at more hardware stores. When you purchase a can, you will want to shake it before using, just like any other spray can. Then you want to hold it about 1 foot away from the epoxy you want to spray. Make sure you are holding the can upright, otherwise the liquid will leak out.
4Spray your refrigerant on the epoxy. The spray will quickly drop the temperature of anything it touches. The epoxy will freeze and turn brittle. Do NOT put your hands near the area you are spraying. Make sure that your gloves and goggles are secure before you begin spraying. If you have children or pets, do not let them near the area.
5Chip away the brittle epoxy. Use a putty knife or hit the epoxy with a rubber mallet or hammer. The epoxy should be cold enough that it turns to crystals and breaks off easily. You will then want to sweep the crystals up into a dustpan, and immediately dump them into the trashcan. You can use a vacuum cleaner to make sure that you get all of the remaining microscopic crystals.
- Be careful not to damage your surface by putting too much pressure on the epoxy. If it doesn’t break apart easily, try adding more spray cooler to chill the resin even more.
Preparing Chemicals to Remove Epoxy
1Wear goggles and safety gloves. Using chemical agents can be very dangerous to bot your eyesight and skin. You will need to buy a pair of goggles that sits flat against the face, with no holes where air can get through. You will also have to purchase a thick pair of rubber gloves, that comes down at least 3 inches from the wrist.
2Open up windows and doors. This is incredibly important because you need airflow. Air will carry the harmful vapors of the chemicals towards the outside of your house. If your windows and doors remained closed, you will likely breathe in chemical agents which are hazardous to your health.
3Choose a chemical which will soften epoxy. It is also critical that the chemical agent does not damage the surface on which it is stuck to. Chemicals may damage certain surfaces such as cloth, plastic or vinyl. The strong chemicals may actually eat away at surfaces before they soften the epoxy glue.
- Stay away from Class 3 and 4 oxidizers. These agents can cause spontaneous combustion, or can catch on fire down the road.
- Try a paint thinner. The acetone in most paint thinners can soften up hardened epoxy, but be prepared to let the epoxy and object to which it is stuck to soak for at least an hour.
- Use a commercial stripping agent. These are usually available at most hardware stores.
4Apply the stripping agent. You can either drip some of the agent directly onto the epoxy, or put some on a washcloth, and dab the epoxy. Either way, make sure that enough agent makes it’s way onto the epoxy. After the agent has been applied, wait at least an hour before you come back to it.
- Work in small steps, 2-3 inches at a time. If the area is too wide, the chemical agent will likely not work as effectively.
- Make sure that children and pets are not around when you are applying the chemical agent.
5Mix a cleaning solution. After the chemical stripping agent sits for an hour, you will need to neutralize it before you scrape it off. Mix together, in a medium sized bucket, 2-3 tablespoons of trisodium phosphate and a gallon of hot water. You can either pull the mixture onto the stripping agent, or dab it on with a sponge. Let it sit, and neutralize the agent for at least 5 minutes.
6Scrape the epoxy resin from the surface. You can use a putty knife, a razor, or any other sharp object. You will want to immediately place the epoxy in a paper towel, and throw it away in a trash can. The goal is to not let the chemical agents get anywhere near you. If some epoxy is still stuck to the surface, soak the remaining epoxy in the chemical for a while longer before trying to scrape it off.
- When you have scraped the epoxy off, wash the area down with a rag soaked in warm water and soap. You do not want the chemicals to linger around, especially with children and pets in the house.
How can I remove hardened epoxy from a glass window?
You could try using a razor blade, but make sure it’s one with a strong metal backing (a hobby blade) or you could get badly cut.
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- Apply the specific procedure two to three times. Sometimes the procedure will only work for the top layer of epoxy. Repeat trials until all of the layers are gone.
- Ask a hardware professional for advice. Sometimes there are home remedies which work just as well at removing epoxy. Professionals will also be able to refer you to the best products out there on the market at removing epoxy.
- Work the epoxy in small segments. Do not do the whole entire area at once. Do 2-3 inches at a time, and work from there.
- Allow for air to move freely throughout the house. You do not want to bottle up vapor from dangerous chemicals.
- Make sure your gloves and goggles are secure. You do not want some of the fumes to make contact with skin, or your eyes.
- Keep your pets and children in a safe place as you are applying chemicals to the epoxy.
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