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Because A Common Question On Here Is "Isn't Burning Plastic Toxic?"
Hey there fellow crafters, you may be wondering what is this?
WELL since I have been browsing for quite a long time I've had the great opportunity to see many AMAZING projects. I've also had the chance to see many amazing products dealing with the reuse of plastic. I myself have wanted to attempt some of this but there is a major concern that came to mind.

Melting plastics? Isn't that TOXIC?

So I went around the internet to see what I could find out and since this isn't something that will pop into everyones mind often I even provided a simple poster attachment so you can print it out and hang it up to help you identify your plastics. As for below, these are the safety precautions for each and ever one :]

Hope it helps! Feel free to ask questions!

Posted by Gaby A. Published See Gaby A.'s 6 projects »
  • The_Guide_to_Plastic_Safety2.png 650 KB [ Download ]
  • The_Guide_to_Plastic_Safety2.png 650 KB [ Download ]

You Will Need

  • How to make a misc. The Very Important Guide Of Plastic Safety - Step 1
    Step 1

    Quick overview:

    On most plastics there is a recycle sign which carries a number from 1 - 7

    Each number represent specific types of plastics, with the exception of 7 which is anything that cannot be categorized in the first 6.

    Different plastics react differently to fire, some catch on fire, some melt, and others will barely do anything.

    Most plastics carry some signs of toxicity due to the creation process being as such. But some are significantly safer than others.

  • How to make a misc. The Very Important Guide Of Plastic Safety - Step 2
    Step 2

    Type 1 [PETE]

    PETE is the plastic that is used the most on here as most water bottles are made from this. It is also one of the more common plastics used and melts when in contact with fire.

    PETE plastic is notorious for the high amounts [by health guidelines] of Antimony and carcinogens that it can leach into water. These can also be released by burning and melting this plastic.

    Avoid melting this plastic, there are tons of crafts that you can do without having to expose it to heat.

    IF you do feel the need to melt or warp PETE, try using the hot boiling water method instead, as this is much safer when expelling fumes. Also remeber to ALWAYS WORK IN WELL VENTILATED AREAS

  • How to make a misc. The Very Important Guide Of Plastic Safety - Step 3
    Step 3

    Type 2 [HDPE]

    HDPE, I kind of love this plastic since it is the safest plastic out there. It also is the easiest to recycle and it has become a safe alternative to many other plastics and substances. Majority of Milk jugs and Detergent bottles are made from this.

    Things To Know:
    It is safe to refill HDPE containers or water bottles as it does not leach anything. HDPE is a very STURDY plastic and does not melt unless under VERY extreme heat. Sadly this means it lacks flexibility but it is very good for support needed in projects.

    You can use this plastic with out any concern. But it does not really melt.

  • How to make a misc. The Very Important Guide Of Plastic Safety - Step 4
    Step 4

    TYPE 3 [PVC]

    PVC is the most DANGEROUS plastic produced today, next to PC[discussed in #7] However this is another plastic that I have seen melted a LOT on here. PVC is also known as Vinyl. Most Records are made from Vinyl.

    PVC leaches Carcinogens as well as Lead. Also when exposed to heat it emits one of the most dangerous pollutant and toxin, Dioxin.

    You can use PVC but avoid at all cost from melting it.

    Again if you positively do feel the need to melt it, use the hot boiled water method instead of directly exposing it to flames. Again do this in a WELL VENTILATED AREA.

  • How to make a misc. The Very Important Guide Of Plastic Safety - Step 5
    Step 5

    TYPE 4 [LDPE]

    LDPE is another safe plastic. This is commonly used in the craft world as buttons are usually made with this. It is also used for Plastic Wrap, Grocery Bags, and certain food containers.

    Things To Know:
    LDPE is strong but significantly less sturdy than HDPE when in a solid form. It still takes a lot to melt it [about 194F]

    LDPE is pretty safe to use. If in a solid form it takes a lot of heat to melt. Use caution while trying to burn loser LDPE products such as bags, because they do catch on fire.

  • How to make a misc. The Very Important Guide Of Plastic Safety - Step 6
    Step 6

    TYPE 5 [PP]

    PP is pretty safe, and is used for many things like bottle caps [and tic-tac caps], Storage Bins, and Plastic dishware. It does not melt easily, but it does heat up very quickly, so use caution if you ever heat up a PP plastic.

    Advised Caution:
    PP is quite safe, however studies have found that certain PP's may leach a biocide. So use PP with caution.

  • How to make a misc. The Very Important Guide Of Plastic Safety - Step 7
    Step 7

    TYPE 6 [PS]

    This is Styrofoam basically, and I would hope everyone knows to avoid heating Styrofoam. I'll will still list the risks.

    *EDIT* Type 6 plastic has two forms. One being Styrofoam and another which mimics the other plastics, This plastic is easy to melt, but of course still carries the risks stated below, in fact there is a distinct scent to it.

    Also leaches Carcinogens related to styrene and an estrogen disruptor.

    Don't heat Styrofoam, ever. And if you are going to make homemade Shrink Dinks just use caution, and be in a WELL Ventilated Area.

  • How to make a misc. The Very Important Guide Of Plastic Safety - Step 8
    Step 8

    TYPE 7 [MISC]

    Anything that can't be summed up in the prior types is put here. There is both good and bad plastics.

    PLA are biodegradable plastics so they are good and if you find them are safe to work with for crafting.

    PC is a bad plastic but isn't really something that would pertain to crafters unless they are architects. But if you would like to know, it contains many harmful substances but does not leach easily. So it is more of an environmental concern since it is not really biodegradable.

  • How to make a misc. The Very Important Guide Of Plastic Safety - Step 9
    Step 9


    Hope I helped and you will all be more caution on the use of plastic and fire. For your own healths :]

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lolEffects · Fort Worth, Texas, US · 1 project
Never knew that plastic could be so dangerous, besides the fact that it can catch on fire, lol. Thanks!
Amy H.
Amy H.
Thanks for posting this, useful when shrinky dinking in seperate toaster oven. I always wondered how unhealthy it is when fast food is melted to styrofoam or tupperware is microwaved.
Gaby A.
Gaby A. · 6 projects
Well here is the thing with Ovens. The fumes tend to linger since it is a confined space. And if you accidentally happen to get any of the substance on say the rack on interior of the oven well that a REALLY bad occurrence. Reason being because in order to rid of the smell or the melted plastic you have to heat it even more (about 400+ degrees) for a period of time.

I mean I personally wouldn't do it because that's a quick and direct form of exposure. BUT if you are doing it, have open windows, and air conditioning VERY GOOD VENTILATION. I mean if you do it once, and properly you should be fine honestly.
Jelly Jam
Jelly Jam · U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado, US · 21 projects
Can you melt type 3 (like a record) in the oven?
Happy-Go-Lucky · Nawur, Bamiyan, AF · 8 projects
Great idea. I know these are just pre cautions but I'd rather be safe then sorry!
Gaby A.
Gaby A. · 6 projects
Very Good Point, I am not really familiar with Shrinky Dink so I neglected to look into it, but you are right it is a #6 plastic. So it does seem that Type six is both styrofoam and it's own clear form which is very susceptible to heat. I found out most hangers are made from type six, I'll add this to the guide. Thanks for pointing this out :]
The Twins
The Twins · 9 projects
wasnt 6 the one used in shrink plastik? or was it 5?
but if 6 is toxic and 5 will not melt anything is wrong O.O
or am i wrong and shrink plasic isnt actually melting?
im confused O:O
thank you so much for publishing this!
you took so much wories while working with plastics from me!
Gaby A.
Gaby A. · 6 projects
Ms. Priscilla,
I am very much aware of these studies, as I've said I did a lot of research. But I did not really put much focus on Styrofoam to begin with just noted it as it is one of the 7 types of plastics identified. I'd would like to point out however that you neglected to address a major point. Exposure to any object in continuous and large amounts builds up. Also quite a few of these studies have been proven negligent. As this only a site pertaining to craft I will not speak on this any further. But I have to say your post is a bit out of place. I just stated facts and told people not to burn it. Are you insinuating its safe to burn Styrofoam?
Priscilla B.
Priscilla B.
Studies by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, have found that the levels in which consumers are exposed to are not high enough to cause health fears. Further, polystyrene has not been classified by any regulatory organization in the world to be a known human carcinogen. Additionally, in 2006 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Toxicology Program determined styrene to be of "negligible concern" for effects on human development and reproduction, including endocrine effects.

Priscilla Briones for the Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC), Arlington, Virginia. SIRC (www.styrene.org) is a trade association representing interests of the North American styrene industry with its mission being the collection, development, analysis and communication of pertinent information on styrene.
Hypergraphia · U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado, US · 41 projects
Thanks! That was really cool!
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