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Try bioplastic fishing lures

by Green Plastics


Mike writes in to ask:

I am interested in finding a eco-friendly replacement for plastisol for use in soft plastic fishing lures.  I have my own mould and make worms as a hobby.  I am concerned about the effect of plastisol on our waterways and our fish and am interested to see if you know of any solution.

The mold is 2 pieces and I pour the plastisol in using a pyrex measuring cup.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks for your email, Mike! I think this is a great project, and a perfect application for home-made bioplastic. These types of lures should be easy to make, and will be completely biodegradable in the environment.

Soft plastic fishing lures with moldsFirst, some background for people who might not be familiar with fishing lures. Soft plastic lures are produced from a liquid plastic plastisol. This material is manufactured as a white liquid about the consistency of water. When the plastisol is heated it turns clear and thickens to a material about the consistency of syrup, which upon cooling forms a soft plastic material. This is the basic material for making soft plastic lures.

Plastisol contains polyvinylchloride (PVC) and a plasticizer. The PVC is not biodegradable and will last many years in the environment. It will take a long time to break down, and will never actually biodegrade. Most soft lures also use substances called phthalates as plasticizers. Phthalates have been associated with public health risks.

The desire to fish in an ecologically responsible and safe way has been an increasing concern in recent years. One fun and very responsible way to make your fishing more ecologically responsible is to make your own environmentally-safe, bioplastic fishing lures.

If you want to make environmentally biodegradable molded fishing lures, the simplest moldable material is likely to be a gelatin viscose. One recipe for this material is described on p. 174 of the Green Plastics book. The basic recipe is this:

Combine 3.0 g (1/2 tsp) glycerol (ordinary drugstore variety) and 12.0 g (4 tsp) gelatin (ordinary supermarket unflavored gelatin) with 60 mL (1/4 cup) hot water.  You can feel free to experiment with adding small amounts of food coloring, as well, if you would like.
[This formula can be scaled up for larger amounts.]
Mix all of the ingredients together in the amounts above, and stir.  Keep mixing until there are no clumps, and heat the mixture to 95 C or to when it starts to froth (whichever comes first). Stir the mixture while you are heating it, and once it is at the right temperature (or starts to froth), remove the heat and keep stirring.  Scoop out excess froth with a spoon, and make sure there are no clumps.
Pour the hot clear liquid (in the bottom of the mixture) directly into molds of the desired size and shape. When dry, remove the objects from the mold and trim as needed.
You may need to play around and experiment with the exact proportions to get the consistency that you want.  Remember this simple rule: If you want it to be harder, use less glycerol; if you want it to be softer, use more glycerol. It may take up to several days to dry completely, depending on the temperature and humidity of the air in the place where it is drying.
But your end result will be safe and biodegradable: and the material will eventually swell and completely biodegrade in the presence of microorganisms.

Good luck, happy experimenting … and happy fishing!

Comments (1)

  1. ilker şah says:

    hi. I applied this recipe. when it was completely dry, I put in tap water but it was very sticky after a while and melted. what is wrong?

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