Gelatine is a versatile material – it’s flexible, soft and recyclable. To get the best out of your prosthetics, there are a few things to know to make sure you don’t end up with brittle or fragile appliances.
1. Don’t boil it
Although you need to get the gelatine hot to melt it, never boil it. Boiling will affect the structure of your gelatine and when it’s set, it will become sticky and unusable. If you are using a microwave, warm the gelatine a little at a time, checking and stirring regularly. If you are using a saucepan, keep the heat low and stir at regular intervals.
2. Don’t chill it
It’s not just boiling that will ruin the integrity of gelatine – chilling cast appliances will adversely effect it too. Although appliances are best stored in a cool place out of direct sunlight, the fridge it not the place for them. Chilling gelatine prosthetics will make them brittle and likely to break or tear when handled.
3. Be careful when melting it
Pay the utmost attention when melting gelatine. Hot gelatine sticks like glue, if it gets on your skin it can cause serious burns. Use heatproof gloves when handling it and never leave melting gelatine unattended. If you are leaving excess gelatine to cool, make sure it is in a stable container away from the edge of your table or counter and if possible, cover it.
4. Make sure the temperature is right for pouring
Gelatine needs to be hot to make sure your prosthetics are cast properly. As gelatine cools, it thickens, and pouring cool gelatine into a mould will result in air bubbles and poor castings. Get the gelatine to a fluid consistency and pour it into your mould right away. To test it, dip in a metal spoon and allow some gelatine to pour off it. If it pours in a thin, fluid line it’s ready for your mould.
5. Keep it clean
One of the best things about gelatine is that that is can be reused. Any overflow from casting prosthetics (and any bad castings) can be melted and used again which is great, but you can pick up debris such as hair and grit as you use it. Have a good metal sieve to hand (not plastic – it will melt!) and pour your gelatine through it to remove foreign objects.
6. Don’t reheat it too many times
Although it can be reused, don’t reheat your gelatine too many times. Eventually, it will break down and become brittle and you will end up with unusable castings. If your gelatine is beginning to go darker or turn amber in colour, its been overheated or used too many times. We would only recommend re-heating gelatine 3 or 4 times – after that, move on to a new batch.
We sell gelatine in 1kg, 400g and 200g units, and it’s the same recipe that we use to cast all of the prosthetics that you see in our shop. Watch the video below to see the best way to apply your gelatine prosthetics.
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