Is burnt polymer clay toxic?

Polymer clay is a popular and versatile medium used by artists and crafters to create a wide range of beautiful and intricate creations. While proper baking or curing of polymer clay is essential to achieve the desired results, there may be instances where the clay becomes accidentally burnt. In this article, we’ll explore whether burnt polymer clay is toxic and what precautions you should take if you find yourself in such a situation.

The Effects of Burning Polymer Clay

When polymer clay is exposed to high temperatures beyond its recommended baking range, it can become scorched or burnt. Burnt polymer clay can exhibit changes in color, texture, and odor. The burning process may release odorous fumes and gases that can be unpleasant and potentially irritating.

Is It Toxic?

While burnt polymer clay may release undesirable fumes and odors, it is generally not considered highly toxic. The fumes released from burnt polymer clay are typically a result of the decomposition of the plasticizer and other components of the clay. These fumes can cause discomfort, such as eye or throat irritation, but they are unlikely to cause severe or long-lasting health effects in most cases.

However, it’s important to note that repeated or prolonged exposure to fumes from burnt polymer clay may not be advisable, and it’s best to avoid inhaling or coming into contact with such fumes as much as possible.

Precautions and Disposal

If you accidentally burn polymer clay, here are some precautions and steps you can take:

  • Ventilation: If you notice burnt polymer clay, ensure that the area is well-ventilated. Open windows or use fans to help disperse any odorous fumes.
  • Avoid Inhaling Fumes: Do not deliberately inhale the fumes from burnt polymer clay. If you experience discomfort or irritation, move to a well-ventilated area.
  • Dispose of Burnt Clay: If you choose to dispose of burnt polymer clay, seal it in a plastic bag or airtight container before placing it in an outdoor trash bin.
  • Clean Baking Area: Thoroughly clean your baking surface, tools, and oven to remove any residue from the burnt clay.

Preventing Burning

The best way to avoid burnt polymer clay is to follow proper baking guidelines and recommendations:

  • Use an Oven Thermometer: Use an oven thermometer to ensure that your oven’s temperature is accurate and consistent.
  • Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions: Always follow the recommended baking temperature and time provided by the manufacturer of the polymer clay brand you are using.
  • Monitor Baking Process: Keep an eye on your polymer clay pieces while they are baking to prevent overexposure to heat.


In conclusion, burnt polymer clay is not highly toxic, but it may release undesirable fumes and odors that can cause discomfort. It’s important to take precautions to avoid burning polymer clay and to handle burnt clay with care. By following proper baking guidelines, maintaining good ventilation, and practicing safe handling, you can create polymer clay artworks while minimizing any potential risks.

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