5 Ways to Make Glue

Learn how to make homemade glue

Man working with glue on birdhouse

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Glue is an adhesive, which means it is a material that binds substances together. While you can always find it in a store, any chemist or homemaker will tell you that there are lots of naturally sticky common household ingredients, like honey or sugar water. There are also many substances that form glue when they are mixed. In other words, it's possible to concoct glue on your own.

You can make homemade glue if you're bored, or even if you want an alternative to store-bought products because you prefer natural glue. No matter why, if you're interested in learning how to make glue, here are five easy recipes.

Non-Toxic Milk Glue

Portion of Milk Powder

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The best all-purpose homemade glue is made using milk as a base. This is actually much like how commercial non-toxic glue is made. Depending on how much water you add, the result can be a thick craft paste or more standard white glue.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons powdered dry milk or 1/4 cup of warm milk
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • More water, to reach desired consistency

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the powdered milk in the hot water. If you're using regular warm milk, start with just that.
  2. Stir in the vinegar. You'll see a chemical reaction occur, separating the milk into curds and whey. Continue stirring until the milk has completely separated.
  3. Filter the mixture through a coffee filter or paper towel. Discard the liquid (whey) and keep the solid curd.
  4. Mix the curd, a small amount of baking soda (about 1/8 teaspoon), and 1 teaspoon hot water. The reaction between the baking soda and the residual vinegar will cause some foaming and bubbling.
  5. Adjust the consistency of the glue to suit your needs. If the glue is lumpy, add a bit more baking soda. If it is too thick, stir in more water.
  6. Store the glue in a covered container. It will last 1 to 2 days on the counter, but 1 to 2 weeks if you refrigerate it.

Corn Syrup and Corn Starch Glue

Corn Syrup and lab equipment

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Starch and sugar are two forms of carbohydrates that become sticky when heated. Here's how to make a simple and safe glue based on cornstarch and corn syrup. You could substitute potato starch and another type of syrup if you prefer.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 3/4 cup cold water

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan, stir together the water, corn syrup, and vinegar.
  2. Bring the mixture to a full boil.
  3. In a separate cup, stir the corn starch and cold water to make a smooth mixture.
  4. Slowly stir the corn starch mixture into the boiling corn syrup solution. Return the glue mixture to a boil and continue cooking for 1 minute.
  5. Remove the glue from heat and allow it to cool. Store it in a sealed container.

Easy No-Cook Paste Recipe

Human hands pouring water into batter

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The simplest and easiest homemade adhesive you can make is a paste from flour and water. Here's a quick version that does not require any cooking. It works because the water hydrates the molecules in the flour, making them sticky.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Water
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Stir water into flour until you get the desired gooey consistency. If it is too thick, add a small amount of water. If it's too thin, add a bit more flour.
  2. Mix in a small amount of salt. This helps prevent mold.
  3. Store the paste in a sealed container.

Simple Flour and Water Glue or Paste

stirring milk and flour

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While no-cook flour and water is the easiest form of homemade glue to make, you'll get a smoother and stickier paste if you cook the flour. Basically, you're making flavorless gravy. If you want, you can tint it using food coloring or even jazz it up with glitter.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cold water

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan, whisk together flour and cold water. Use equal portions of flour and water for a thick paste and add more water to make glue.
  2. Heat the mixture until it boils and thickens. If it is too thick, you can add a bit more water. Keep in mind that this recipe will thicken as it cools.
  3. Remove from heat. Add coloring if desired. Store the glue in a sealed container.

Natural Paper Mache Paste

Paper mache paste

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Another natural glue that uses kitchen ingredients is paper mache (papier mache) paste. It's a thin type of flour-based glue that you can paint onto paper strips, or you can soak the strips in the glue and then apply them. It dries to a smooth, hard finish.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 5 cups boiling water

Instructions

  1. Stir the flour into the cup of water until no lumps remain.
  2. Whisk this mixture into the boiling water to thicken it into the glue.
  3. Allow the paper mache glue to cool before using it. If you aren't going to use it right away, add a pinch of salt to discourage mold and store the glue in a sealed container.