Green glassing

I'd like to try glassing my own board and am curious about using the new bio-based resins/fiberglas to be a bit more ecologically conscious, but am wondering if the quality of the material is the same as using regular polyester or epoxy resins.  has anyone glassed a board using these types of green materials (i.e. super sap resin)?  differences/difficulties?  Thanks for any advice.

Hey Kolohe


Nothing better than riding a board that you have made yourself!!

Being in oz and most aussie board shapers are “resined on to the Poly/PU bandwagon” its hard to find the next big eco resin… Best I have come up with is Epoxy/ 3oz 100% bamboo weave,(not the 5% lycra that some companies are using) which I’m finding fantastic! lighter and stronger than normal fiberglass, so im only using one layer and no lapps! Though there is a thread about banana weave which sounds promising!!


If you find an eco resin let us know and if its in Oz even better!!



Why is fiberglass not "green" - it's just spun glass, no?

Volan’s kinda greenish… 

Dont know if this helps Huckleberry

The basic raw materials for fiberglass products are a variety of
natural minerals and manufactured chemicals. The major ingredients are
silica sand, limestone, and soda ash. Other ingredients may include
calcined alumina, borax, feldspar, nepheline syenite, magnesite, and
kaolin clay, among others. Silica sand is used as the glass former, and
soda ash and limestone help primarily to lower the melting temperature.
Other ingredients are used to improve certain properties, such as borax
for chemical resistance. Waste glass, also called cullet, is also used
as a raw material. The raw materials must be carefully weighed in exact
quantities and thoroughly mixed together (called batching) before being
melted into glass.

In response to the Eco issues, the fiberglass industry will have to
continue to cut costs in two major areas: energy and environment. More
efficient furnaces will have to be used that do not rely on only one
source of energy.

With landfills reaching maximum capacity, fiberglass manufacturers
will have to achieve nearly zero output on solid waste without
increasing costs. This will require improving manufacturing processes
to reduce waste (for liquid and gas waste as well) and reusing waste
wherever possible.

Such waste may require reprocessing and remelting before reusing as
a raw material.

Several manufacturers are already addressing these
issues so in your question,… yes it can be eco friendly if the money is spent to continue improving the process…

God, I sound like such a new wave hippie/greenie!! Brother in law is an environmental scientist, keeps drumming this into my head!

Dont know many other natural materials the makes you itchy when you get it on the skin… except cheap wool (which is mainly from treatments used on the wool)… thinking that the chemicals, is the thing that irritates your skin? Dont know? Anyone else who can answer this question?

Love that bamboo doesnt make me itchy!





"Volan's kinda greenish..."

HAHA - I get it, BUT....

Volan is treated with a chromium solution much of which ends up.... guess where?  That's right.  Although it has that fashionista/fascist/retro green tint, it is not one of the better fiberglass finishes if you are at all concerned with environmental issues.

Don't take my word for it - look it up.

Just being facetious…

Methacrylato chromic chloride.


Same stuff is also used as a coupling agent for microspheres.

Hi Atomized -

Actually, I'm not sure how toxic the stuff really is?  Here is a cut/paste from a SIMA article online.  I had heard from another (reliable) source that Volan was bad news in the manufacturing process.  Chromium exists in different forms, some toxic and some relatively inert.  It is pretty damn hard to claim 'green'  when it comes to surfboard making.  Aside from relative few boards made from organics, at some point in the manufacturing process, directly, indirectly or both, the environment takes a hit. 


Fiberglass fabrics made from silica (sand) are subsequently processed

with varying degrees of "green" and "non-green" methods -- especially

from one country to the next. Our ability to safely process and regulate

this dangerous cleaning process stops at our borders Even within the

U.S., from one company to another, the finishing processes are nasty.

Water washing used prominently by one leading U.S. manufacturer

wastes heaps of this precious natural resource. Moving away from this

kind of solution cleaning can make relative gains towards helping the


Our industry's fabled green Volan finish is no stronger or better than

clear finishes, but looks cool. It also however has chromium as an

effluent that carries with it heavy metal pollutants of the worst kind into

our ground water.

Pigments and tints also have varying toxicities. The U.S. outlawed the

dangerous ones, so most are produced abroad and imported illegally.

Manufacturers use them anyway because of their pretty colors. Some

base resin additives (optical brighteners and UV absorbers) are now

outlawed in Japan because of their "dirty" processing consequences.

When will the U.S. do the same?

OSHA, EPA, AQMD ,RULE1162, and the alphabet soup of regulatory

agencies that busted Clark Foam reach only to our borders. Although

Japan and Australia have similar environmental requirements, imported

materials from many origins around the world ignore these stringent

"green measures". Sadly, a lot of the Surfboard Industry still folds to

market pressures at the expense of our environment.

You should try SynergyTodd on this one…he’s worked with all the fabrics and resins…he probably has the most real-world experience in terms of true material tests on this forum.

The chrome used in the manufacturing process of the cloth is toxic. When it comes to exposure,the use of volan by a glasser is the about the same as silane. Wear breathing protection, protect your skin, ect.

 Volan is the grandaddy of coupling agents. It was supplanted by silanes and other better preforming coupling agents since the early 70’s.

When the demand for Volan started again with the whole retro fad about a decade or so back when, the stuff was pretty had to find from any of the suppliers. One supplier told me that because of the toxic nature of manufacturing Volan, it was illegal to make it here in the States and had to be imported from Mexico.

If you compare the Volan being used today to the Volan found on boards built back in 60’s - early 70’s, the old stuff had a darker green color cast to it. Nowadays some glassers are adding a few drops of green and black tint to the resin in order to achive the old look.

The myth of Volan being a stronger cloth is something I hear all the time from customers that request for it. I think that belief comes from the fact that the usual weight of Volan cloth used in most longboard lay-ups is 7.5 oz versus the standard of 6 oz silane. So a heavier glass job is stronger.

I’ve been spraying a faux volan tint on a lot of boards for customers who like the look but don’t like the extra weight.

Being “green” is a noble thing, but if one really wants their surfing not to impact the environment, they should stick to bodysurfing. 


Being "green" is a noble thing, but if one really wants their surfing not to impact the environment, they should stick to bodysurfing. 


I'll go ahead and state the obvious: the generally accepted goal of building a board that is environmentally responsible is to minimize (not necessarily completely eliminate) the negative impact on the environment - hence, the search for less toxic, longer lasting, or less polluting surfboard building materials.

thanks for all of the technical info on material composition.  if i accept that the process of glassing a board will never be without effect on the environment, and that i want to try to use the most environmentally friendly glassing products to at least minimize this effect as much  as possible, can anyone advise on my original question?:

"i am wondering if the quality of the (more ecologically friendly)materials (i.e. super sap resin)  is the same as using regular polyester or epoxy resins.  what are the differences/difficulties in their use"?

thanks again for any additional advice!

Don’t waste materials and make the board last.  That’s the largest part of being green.  Nothing in the trash bin.  Epoxies are a bit better mostly because they have better yield, durability, are solvent free and they don’t require clean up solvents. But I’ve made green resins for 30 years and it still comes down to waste and durability as the main issues.

Kolohe - 

Super Sap resins are epoxy based and work similarly to most wet-layup epoxy resins in pretty much all respects except for color. Similar viscosity, dry times, and mechanicals to standard ambient cure epoxy ( ~ 3-4 hour flip time @ 23C). They are yellow in color or will yellow due to higher bio-content, so color work probably required, unless you’re not opposed to the natural amber colors. Over wood or dark fibers, it actually enhances the natural grain.

With regard to natural fiber glassing, I’ve tried various weight hemp fibers, bamboo, flax, bamboo veneers, and other wood veneers. They all have their laminating tricks. Deck inlays are straightforward using cutlaps. Vacuum bagging helps if you’re laminating the whole board including the rails, unless you use double sided tape / cutlaps or a really fast kicking resin. Vac bags are necessary if doing veneer work.

Synergy Todd has lots of experience laminating bamboo cloth w/o vac bags…