Is fimo biodegradable?

This article shall answer the question, ” is fimo biodegradable?”.

It shall also cover other areas such as:

  • The components of Fimo clay.
  • Properties and uses of fimo.
  • Properties and uses of PVC polymer.
  • The toxicity of Fimo clay
  • Eco-friendliness of fimo clay.

Is fimo biodegradable?

No, fimo is made from polyvinyl chloride, a synthetic plastic polymer that is non-biodegradable. Synthetic materials such as PVC obtained from crude oil are not susceptible to microbial degradation. 

Microbes such as bacteria and fungi act on natural, organic materials derived from plants and animals.

Although fimo is made from a mixture of organic materials and polyvinyl chloride, the highest percentage is that of polyvinyl chloride, rendering fimo non-biodegradable.

What is Biodegradation?

Biodegradation is the process by which naturally occurring organic materials are broken down by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi into small particles which are not harmful to the environment.

Biodegradation is carried out by different agents such as UV radiation, light, wind, and water but the most effective agents of biodegradation are bacteria and fungi.

Biodegradation occurs in three distinct stages: biodeterioration, bio-fragmentation, and assimilation.

The biodeterioration process loosens up the structure of the organic substance. For instance, the cell wall of plants is weakened by light, wind, water, and UV radiation.

Bio-fragmentation involves the breakdown of organic matter into smaller, nontoxic particles by bacteria and fungi, releasing water and carbon dioxide in the process.

Assimilation is the last stage of biodegradation and it involves the microorganisms taking up the products of bio-fragmentation into their biological machinery to be used to make energy.

Biodegradation can either involve the microorganisms using oxygen, aerobic biodegradation or it can involve the microorganisms which do not use oxygen, anaerobic biodegradation.

When microorganisms break down materials in the presence of oxygen, that process is called aerobic biodegradation. The products of aerobic biodegradation are water and carbon dioxide.

When microbes break down materials in the absence of oxygen, the process is called anaerobic biodegradation and the products are carbon dioxide and methane gases.

Aerobic biodegradation occurs at a faster rate than anaerobic biodegradation although the latter is more efficient than the former.

What is fimo?

Fimo is a type of modeling clay that is made from polyvinyl chloride and hardened in the oven.

It is a common material for modeling kids’ toys, for making beads and jewelry, small accessories, and ornaments.

The polyvinyl chloride used is usually in the powdered form. It is hardened in an oven at a temperature of about 110⁰C  to form a firm solid after cooling.

Once it is complete, fimo can be cut, drilled, polished, painted, sanded, or thinly sliced.

Holes in Fimo meant to make beads and jewelry are made using a needle before hardening, or they are drilled using a driller after hardening.

Application techniques of Fimo.

After the processing of fimo polymer clay is over, the end product can be put under different techniques to come up with different products.

Sculpting.

Fimo can be sculpted just like other sculpting materials such as ceramics and modeling clay.

Aluminum foil can be used to model large areas, the foil is made into a shape and then covered with Fimo.

Glass objects can also be used as base structure points in place of aluminum foil.

Marbling and color mixing.

Marble surfaces can be obtained by mixing two or more colors, twisting, then folding and bending, and finally cutting.

When multiple colors are used and mixed thoroughly, they blend to make a new color.

Caning.

This technique is also called caneworking or millefiori. 

A 3D design form is made using 2D with different color elements of the designs running through the form from the front surface to the back surface. 

Once the form is completed, the new form; called cane, is formed and can be sliced using a blade held parallel to the front surface to produce identical copies of the design.

Bull’s eye cane.

This process of bull’s eye caning is used to create “lacework” with polymer clay. 

 A single color roll of polymer clay is wrapped in secondary clay. The rolling and compressing of the two colors make a perfect joint known as the bull’s eye. 

Cutting the length of the formed clay into even lengths and laying them on top of each other and re-rolling them forms a “lacework”. 

Beading. 

Fimo polymer clay can be made into beads with the holes punched or made using a needle before baking or made by drilling after baking.

Polishing.

Fimo polymer clay can be polished using wet and dry sandpaper to smoothen the surface. Water should be run over the surface while polishing.

Mixed media.

Fimo can be created by mixing polymer clay with powders, glitter foil, alcohol inks, or fragments to come up with a metallic marble effect.

What are the components of fimo?

Fimo is made up of:

  • Plastic powder of polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
  • Plasticizer.
  • Additive.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Polyvinyl chloride is the third most used plastic after polyethylene and polypropylene.

PVC occurs in two main forms; rigid PVC and flexible PVC.

Rigid PVC has several applications such as:

  • In making pipes.
  • In making plastic bottles.
  • Making non-food packaging materials.
  • In making bank cards such as ATM cards.
  • In making food covering sheets.

Polyvinyl chloride can be made softer and more flexible by using additives and plasticizers such as phthalates.

Soft and flexible PVC is used:

  • In making electrical cable insulators.
  • In plumbing.
  • In signage.
  • In making carpets.
  • In making phonographic records.
  • In the production of the canvas.
  • In making imitation leather.

Plasticizer.

Plasticizers are materials that are used to make plastics soft and more flexible.

The common examples include phthalates, adipates, trimellitates, polymeric plasticizers, and epoxidized vegetable oils.

The most commonly used plasticizers in Fimo are phthalates and adipates.

Phthalates.

Phthalates are esters of phthalic acid. 

There are different types of phthalates depending on their molecular weight.

The low molecular weight phthalates such as those derived from C-3 and C-6 alcohols are associated with cancer and are being replaced with high molecular weight phthalates.

Phthalates are mostly used to treat PVC. A mixture of PVC and phthalates is called plastisol.

Phthalates have been associated with several health issues. They include:

  • Phthalates are associated with endocrine disruption. They enter the bloodstream and disrupt the sex production of sex hormones.
  • They cause decreased sexual desire and satisfaction in women.
  • They disrupt the endocannabinoid system by blocking CB1 as allosteric antagonists.
  • Phthalates are associated with obesity.
  • Phthalates are associated with liver and testes damage.

Adipates.

Adipates are plasticizers used in the softening and adding flexibility and durability of plastics, mainly polyvinyl chloride.

The types of adipates used as plasticizers are:

  • Bis(2-ethylhexyl)adipate: Apart from being used as a plasticizer, it is also used as hydraulic fluid, and as a component of aircraft lubricants. It is also used as an ingredient in PVC-based plastic wrap.
  • Dioctyl adipate.
  • Dimethyl adipate.

Some adipate salts are used as acidity regulators, they include:

  • Sodium adipate( E number E356).
  • Potassium adipate( E357).

Is fimo toxic?

No, the current brand of fimo is non-toxic when used accordingly. It should however not be ingested because PVC might release hydrogen chloride gas which is toxic in high concentrations.

Classic fimo is the very first type of fimo that used to contain phthalates as a plasticizer. According to a report on the safety of polymer clay, Phthalates are carcinogenic compounds whose usage in most compounds has come under serious scrutiny. 

The current brands of fimo do not contain phthalate plasticizers.

Is fimo eco-friendly?

This is a very sensitive topic that needs more research, for now, it is right to assume that fimo is not an eco-friendly substance because it is made mainly from PVC plastic which is a major environmental pollutant.

Although PVC has been categorized as a recyclable material, the recycling process is expensive and tedious. It requires cutting the PVC into small sizes and getting rid of additives and plasticizers.

Conclusion.

This article has answered the question of the biodegradability of fimo.

It has also covered other areas such as:

  • Components of fimo: PVC
  • Application techniques of Fimo.
  • Fimo plasticizers.
  • Fimo toxicity.
  • Eco-friendliness of fimo.

For any questions or comments please use the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): is fimo biodegradable?

Is Fimo recyclable?

No, fimo is not recyclable since it is made from PVC which is hard to recycle on a small scale unless it is done in industries.

Is Fimo a plastic?

Basically yes, although fimo contains other materials, the greatest percentage of its constituents is polyvinyl chloride, which is a type of plastic.

Is Fimo vegan?

No, fimo is made from a plastic polymer, PVC and so it is plastic.

Citations.

“Which is the best varnish to substitute Fimo Lacquer (in Europe) – polymer clay”. Flickr. Retrieved 9 August 2018.

Ventrice P, Ventrice D, Russo E, De Sarro G (July 2013). “Phthalates: European regulation, chemistry, pharmacokinetic and related toxicity”. Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology. 36 (1): 88–96. doi:10.1016/j.etap.2013.03.014

Semon, Waldo L.; Stahl, G. Allan (April 1981). “History of Vinyl Chloride Polymers”. Journal of Macromolecular Science: Part A – Chemistry. 15 (6): 1263–1278. doi:10.1080/00222338108066464

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

Leave a Comment