Faux Metal Letters Made From “Melted” Styrofoam

5 Materials
2 Weeks
I love to upcycle and reuse old stuff but I get particulary excited when I find new ways to use trash that I have previously not been able to upcycle. One of the most pesky items to find reuses for is styrofoam. I have made a couple of stamps from old pieces of foam take out containers but dissolving or "melting the foam to make hard plastic shapes is well lets just be honest here...It is a lot more fun.

I recently bought a new vacuum cleaner (It is a Shark and I love it) but the point of mentioning it here is that it was packed in two large pieces of foam. Like this one.
I recently found out that you can dissolve foam using acetone and that got me wondering what I could make from this new found substance. You can see the process of the dissolving the foam here.
I decided to make a mold from an empty cereal box.
It is a little tricky to get the glob of foam into the mold and it does take a long time to dry / harden.
Once it is hard it is ready to be taken out of the mold.
After some scrubbing and scraping most of the paper from the mold comes off and you are left with a hard slightly rough plastic.
I decided to add some paint for a more finished look. For more details on this project please visit my blog Upcycle Design Lab.
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Cindy @ Upcycle Design Lab
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 19 questions
  • Rosie Krzywda Rosie Krzywda on Sep 15, 2018


  • Mary Lougee Mary Lougee on Sep 15, 2018

    Do you know this is a SERIOUS environmental contaminant? You release a huge amount of CFCs into the air, which destroys ozone. Please stop. CFCs remain active in the upper atmosphere for 100s -1000s of years.

  • Lynda DeGrow Kingsley Lynda DeGrow Kingsley on Apr 17, 2021

    are you sure putting acetone on styrofoam is safe? I’m pretty sure it’s toxic to breathe around this combo!

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2 of 109 comments
  • 56680139 56680139 on Apr 16, 2023

    I am a teacher who later became a Cosmetology instructor. I had to do many hours of chemistry for teaching and then again for Cosmetology.

    NO, I am not a chemist, but I do know certain properties can cause bad reactions. Acetone is toxic and if mixed with certain things (by that I mean chemical and/or solid objects) can be even more toxic. BUT so is alcohol....which is similar in properties to acetone.

    Find a good recycling company for your styrofoam and let experts dispose of it properly...if that day ever comes.

    You can Google or use Wikipedia, but that is not acceptable research.

    Why not just use clay or something organic to make this?

    Remember the days when no one knew that bleach and ammonia would cause a reaction? My Aunt almost died as she passed out immediately and if her husband had not found her, she would have died.

    Bottom line...you made styrofoam change it's chemical and physical properties and turned it into another plastic....so you did not recycle.

  • Kim Kim on Apr 22, 2023

    I’m sure everyone means well, and you absolutely need to protect yourself with a respirator, but acetone is not a carcinogen or a toxic. It is not on either the EPA or OSHA list of hazardous or toxic chemicals, and is often recommended as an alternative to more dangerous solvents.

    Additionally, CFCs are molecules composed of chlorine, fluorine, and carbon. There is no fluorine in either acetone or styrofoam (extruded polystyrene), so CFCs are not a possible byproduct of this decomposition.