What’s the big deal about PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) when preserving flowers?
Was this not supposed to be a super aesthetic job where I just wear beautiful flowy dresses and the wind ripples through my hair while I process wedding bouquets and birds sing around me and little mice hand me my tools like in Snow White?
I hate to be the one to burst your bubble babes, but floral preservation has actually got to be one of the least aesthetic jobs I’ve ever had. While we have to work hard to maintain the pretty on social media, the behind the scenes can be pretty ugly- and there is nothing uglier than the side effects of working with resin and silica sand.
I’m not writing this blog post to scare you off- in fact, quite the opposite. I want to help as many budding floral preservation artists as I possibly can, and a big part of that for us is teaching newbies about the risks of the job and how to work safely. Looking back on how we used to do things gives me chills. I used to process bouquets with silica sand in our kitchen, and never wore a mask to do so. I also used resin and heat tools frequently without correct PPE in the beginning of my journey, and I never want anyone to think that’s okay- because it’s not.
If you don’t already know, working with resin and especially heating resin through tools like heat guns and torches is seriously hazardous work. While resin companies can claim things like ‘eco friendly’, ‘non-toxic’ and ‘VOC free’, these claims are basically void once you mix the two parts together, heat with a torch and start adding things to it. Resin companies can and will try to claim that once you add anything (colour, flowers, glitter etc) you’ve changed the chemical makeup of the product and it will behave differently.
Here is a great article that outlines the risks of using resin long term: https://resinaffairs.com/how-do-epoxy-resins-negatively-affect-our-health/
We also know that more research is coming out about the health effects of using flower drying/silica sand, which can contain crystalline silica particles. Breathing in these particles can lead to silicosis, an incurable lung disease as well as lung cancer, kidney disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (Source)
What you can do
The idea that anyone is processing bouquets or working with resin in 2023 and not using appropriate PPE is just downright scary. Here’s some strategies we use to reduce our exposure to these harmful chemicals we need to use for bouquet preservation:
- Always wear a respirator when working with resin and silica sand. We use a 3M mask with organic vapour filters which you can find here: Mask, Filters
- We also make sure to add particle filters so that when we’re working with silica or sanding resin, so those scary dust particles aren’t entering our lungs- an organic vapour filter isn’t enough to protect you from the tinyyyyy particles- you can find them here
- Wear nitrile gloves when working with resin, as latex and other types of gloves just aren’t a strong enough barrier. You can find them here
- Work with resin in a dedicated studio space that is away from the house
- Work with silica sand outside and always away from children and pets
- Recharge silica sand in a dedicated art oven, not a kitchen oven
- Use safety goggles or a full face respirator.
Bouquet preservation can be full of beautiful moments, but no job is worth risking your health. If you have any other questions you want answered about preserving bouquets in resin, let us know in the comments below. You can also catch us on Tiktok and Insta, or click the picture below to listen to our podcast episode about this topic on Spotify.