Biodegradable plastic is better for the environment than plastic because it’s not derived from petroleum. And it’s easy to make at home. You can make bioplastic on your own from plant starches, gelatins, or agars. Below we will cover the simple steps on how to make biodegradable plastic at home, so you can save money on plastics or do a fun project with your kids.
1. Make Sure You Have Enough Materials for Creating the Bioplastic
As with all recipes and projects, you must make sure you have all required materials before beginning. You don’t want to find out in the middle of making the plastic that you don’t have what you need. There are different combinations of ingredients that work to create biodegradable plastic.
One list of ingredients you can use includes:
- 1 ml of white vinegar;
- 10 ml of distilled water;
- 1.5 g of cornstarch;
- 0.5-1.5 g of glycerol;
- 1-2 drops of food coloring (optional).
The food coloring is only necessary if you want the plastic to have a certain color. If the standard clear color is fine with you, then food coloring isn’t needed. Glycerol is also referred to as glycerine, so if you’re having trouble finding one at the store, look for the other label.
Materials needed to prepare the plastic are:
- Silicone spatula;
- Aluminum foil or parchment paper;
2. Mix the Ingredients in a Saucepan
Once you’ve confirmed you have all required ingredients, mix them together in a saucepan, except for the food coloring. Unlike some recipes, it doesn’t matter which order you add the ingredients to the saucepan. Use the silicone spatula to stir and mix the ingredients. You must stir until all of the lumps are gone.
Don’t be alarmed if the mixture is milky white and watery because it’s supposed to look that way at that stage. In instances in which you accidentally add the wrong amount of an ingredient, toss out the mixture and start over from the beginning. Don’t try compensating or fixing the measurements.
3. Place the Saucepan on the Stove and Heat on Medium Low
Once all of the lumps have been stirred out of the mixture, place the saucepan on the stove and heat it on medium low. Stir the mixture continuously as it heats and bring it to a gentle boil. You will notice that as the mixture heats it thickens and becomes more translucent.
It will take around 10-15 minutes to sufficiently heat the mixture. Be careful to not overheat the biodegradable plastic mixture. A sign of overheating is when lumps start to form. If you plan on adding food coloring, you can do so once the mixture has come to a gentle boil.
4. Pour the Mixture onto Aluminum Foil or Parchment Paper
After the mixture is at a gentle boil, you can spread it over a sheet of aluminium foil or parchment paper. Be careful as the bioplastic will be hot. If you see any bubbles, pop them with a toothpick. Also note that if you plan on molding the plastic into a certain shape, it needs to be done before the plastic cools.
5. Set the Biodegradable Plastic in a Dry, Cool Place to Dry
The final step on how to make biodegradable plastic is to set the plastic in a dry, cool place to dry. Allow up to two days for the bioplastic to cool and harden all the way. Resist temptation to mess with the plastic until two days have passed, so you don’t mess up its structure during the cooling and drying phase. Thicker molds and shapes will take longer to dry. This is because thicker pieces take longer to dry than thinner pieces.
How to Make Biodegradable Plastic in a Mold
If you want the plastic to have a particular shape, then you can create or use a mold and pour the hot mixture into the mold during step four instead of spreading it on aluminum foil. You can purchase molds from craft stores and hobby shops. For those who prefer making their own, you can create a mold from clay.
Creating your own mold is as easy as how to make biodegradable plastic at home. It sounds more difficult than it really is. All you have to do is sculpt two pieces of clay around the shape of an object you want the mold to be. Wait for the clay to dry, then remove the two pieces.
You can make a biodegradable plastic copy of that object by filling both halves of clay molds with the plastic mixture then sticking them together. Another possibility for making cool shapes with the bioplastic is using a cookie cutter to cut shapes out of the mixture while it’s warm.
How to Use the Mold
To use a mold for making biodegradable plastic, spray the mold with a non-stick spray. This will make it easier to pop the plastic out of the mold once it has finished drying. Pour the hot mixture inside the mold. Double check you’ve filled the entire mold with the mixture. If there are bubbles inside, pop them by lightly tapping the mold on a hard surface like the counter. Just as with the aluminum foil method on how to make biodegradable plastic at home, wait two days for the plastic to fully dry and harden in the mold.
Remember that some bioplastics take longer than two days to dry. If your plastic is still wet when you check after two days, wait another full day before checking again. Thicker molds take longer to dry than thinner molds. Continue the process of checking and waiting another day until the biodegradable plastic is completely dry. Once it is dry, you can remove it from the mold. Your bioplastic is now complete.
It’s easy to learn how to make biodegradable plastic at home. The most difficult part of the process is overcoming a mental barrier that it will be difficult. You can buy molds from craft and hobby stores or create your own from clay. Fill the mold with the hot bioplastic mixture you make following the recipe outlined above or spread it on aluminium foil. It depends on what your purpose is for making the bioplastic.
Did this article help you figure out how to make biodegradable plastic at home? Let us know the results of your project below.