Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Working with polymer clay has its challenges and many rewards. If you have experience with this clay, you know that its unbaked form sticks to just about everything, including you. Baking your project is how you cure it or make it hard. If you are at the baking step of your creation, you may have some questions, including whether or not it will explode in the oven. This question and others are precisely why we brought our research together and created this article on how to bake your polymer clay safely.
No, polymer clay will not explode in your oven. There are still concerns surrounding under or over-baking your project. Improper baking won't cause an explosion, but it will damage your project, and who wants their hard work to fall apart?
Now you know not to worry about exploding projects, but there are questions to still be answered. Continue reading as we discuss how long you should be baking your polymer clay, what happens if you over bake, and more.
Is It Safe To Use Your Oven For Polymer Clay?
It is safe to use your oven to bake your polymer clay project. Any oven that reaches and maintains the ideal temperature through the whole curing process is safe to use. The convection ovens commonly found in homes are suitable because they usually have a fan, creating a more even temperature throughout the oven. With any oven or baking process, there are some aspects to consider or look out for when baking polymer clay.
If your oven is tiny, they create an increased risk of burning or overcooking your polymer clay. Keep a close eye on the temperature and bake time when working with a small oven. You should keep a separate thermometer in the oven when baking clay. Any oven runs the risk of having inaccurate readouts when it comes to temperature. Keeping this thermometer in the oven allows you to adjust the temperature as needed and far more accurately.
If used correctly, you are safe to use whatever oven you have, including the convection oven, home oven, toaster oven, and even a roaster oven. Bake away in one of these options, but never attempt to use a microwave to cure your polymer clay. Microwaves distribute heat unevenly and increase the chances of your project burning in some areas and being undercooked in others.
Read more on our blog post, “Can Polymer Clay Air Dry Without Baking?”
Can You Bake Food In An Oven After Baking Polymer Clay?
Plan on baking something scrumptious after finishing up with your clay project? That is fine. There is no need to have a separate, dedicated oven only for your polymer clay. This clay does not give off toxic fumes and will not contaminate your oven.
It is true that you should not eat food from polymer clay surfaces. Polymer clay is not food certified and may pose risks when consumed. However, baking food and polymer clay in the same oven at different times does not have risk.
How Long Should I Bake Polymer Clay?
How long to bake your polymer clay project depends heavily on how thick your clay is and how much clay you are working with. Always double-check recommended times and heat by reviewing the guidelines provided by your clay manufacturer. If you've lost your manufacturer's instructions, not to worry, you can typically find instructions online or handy baking guideline sheets.
Once you've preheated your oven, typically 230-275 degrees Fahrenheit, assess the thickness of your clay. Normally, baking times are 15-30 minutes per 1/4 inch of thickness. Time is one of the most important aspects to control when baking your clay, alongside temperature and the surface you are baking on.
How do you determine the thickness of your clay? Think about how deep the thickest layer of unbaked clay lies. This will give you your answer. For example, if you are working with clay beads, you would measure the distance from the outside to the center of the bead. This measurement is your thickness. The minutes per inch of thickness may change between brands of clay. Always review the instructions for your specific brand before popping your project in the oven.
The video below provides useful tips for baking your polymer clay for the right time.
Learn more on our blog post, “Polymer Clay Not Hard After Baking — What To Do?”
How Thick Can You Bake Polymer Clay?
The thicker your polymer clay is, the longer it needs to be cooked. It is more problematic to have not thick enough layers versus too thick of layers. Thin layers of polymer clay may break easily. If your project calls for thin layers in certain places, investing in a stronger polymer clay brand is a good idea.
Kato Polyclay is one of the stronger brands of Polymer clay. You can find a multicolor pack of this brand here on Amazon.
Can polymer clay layers become too thick? With thicker layers of clay, keep in mind that you need to accommodate for longer baking times. Another worry with layers that are too thick is cracking. If your polymer clay is going over 1.25” thickness, the chances of your clay project cracking or not baking through increases.
Read more on our blog post, “Can Polymer Clay Get Wet? Is It Waterproof After Baking?”
How Do You Know When Polymer Clay Is Done Baking?
Ovens cannot always be trusted. You should do your best to ensure accurate baking temperatures by placing a thermometer in the oven with your clay project. Maybe you've done this but still aren't sure if your clay is baked all the way through. Are you wondering how to double-check that the curing process went as planned?
There is only one way to be sure; you have to break off a piece of clay. Polymer clay that is baked properly will bend before it breaks off. Undercooked polymer clay will crumble or snap in two when you attempt to break a piece off. You probably don't want to break a piece off your cured project, but maybe you add an extra piece in the oven of the same thickness to give this test on
A less invasive way of checking how if your clay is fully baked is by utilizing your fingernail. With your cooled clay, try pressing the tip of your fingernail into the clay. Your pressure should leave a mark if the clay is fully baked, but your nail will not enter the clay. If you find that your clay is underbaked, you can return it to the oven as long as no paint or glaze is applied.
What Happens If You Over Bake Polymer Clay?
Under baking can be worked around, but over baking polymer clay holds some additional challenges. If you bake your polymer clay project for too long, you can start to see your clay burning. The burnt clay may result in further bubbling or cracking. Can a burnt project be saved? Let's get into this.
There are some tricks to fixing up cracked or burnt clay, but these methods only work in some cases. You should always stress getting the baking right on your project on the first go; this saves a lot of time and frustration.
Nonetheless, accidents do happen, and you may have a burnt piece of clay in front of you. If this is the case, try sanding off the burnt areas. This process does not always work; it depends heavily on how far into your clay the burn goes.
Instead of sanding the affected area off, you can try to cover it up. You can hide the cracked, burned, or browning areas of your clay by adding another layer of clay and attempting to re-bake. You can also utilize your painting skills here and add layers of paints or other embellishments to burnt areas.
Read more on our blog post, “Can You Bake Polymer Clay On Glass?”
Polymer clay will not explode in the oven, but there are other worries when it comes to baking your clay projects. Under baking or over baking polymer clay make up for most problems when working with this type of clay.
With a lot of misinformation out there, you should always follow the baking instructions provided by the manufacturer of your brand of clay. Baking your clay right the first time makes all the difference when it comes to time and creating that ideal final project. We hope you found this article helpful as you get ready to bake your polymer clay.
Looking to apply a sealer to your baked clay project? Have a look at our blog post, “Can You Use Clear Nail Polish On Polymer Clay?”