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Planning Retirement Online

Getting stuck in

October 2011 

getting stuck in!Most of us use forms of glue and adhesives at various times in our lives, whether it is simply sticking some paper onto cardboard or sticking tiles to the bathroom wall. But few of us give serious consideration as to whether the glue we are using is the right one for the job; or that today glue has developed to such an extent that it can be used for a surprisingly wide range of purposes.

Indeed, glue has been a vital factor of life for thousands of years. It is even found in the ancient Neanderthal cave paintings in Lascaux, France, where the artists mixed glue with paint to ensure the colours stuck to the walls. Ancient Egyptians used glue to make their papyrus paper and Greeks and Romans used glue regularly, including for their mosaic floors.

Early glue was made from collagen, the protein found in certain tissues in animals. Fish glue was also discovered early; made from the heads, bones and skins of fish, this glue was thinner and less sticky to work with although it had good adherence.

Today there are natural glues (such as the plant glues gum arabic and latex) and a wide mix of glues and adhesives made from a variety of chemicals.

Today one of the most simple glues used is the glue stick. There are a variety of brands available and they work well especially on paper; they dry fast and are non toxic. One popular brand is made from a mix of chemicals including caprolactam, hydrogen peroxide solution and sodium hydroxide which gives an idea of the complex chemistry involved in modern glue making.

Hot glue, used with a glue gun, forms an immediate bond and is very useful in arts and crafts because of its strength and ability to join different materials.

Some adhesives today, especially the high strength brands popular in building jobs, work when two or more components are joined together, forming a chemical reaction to stick firmly together. Once the join is made, it is made for good.

There are certain adhesives that cross link when they are exposed to ultraviolet light. This can happen in just a few seconds and are used in a number of applications – even dentists use certain adhesives which are “finished” through ultraviolet rays.

For specific jobs, there is a wealth of types of glues and adhesives with outstanding characteristics. For instance, there are anaerobic adhesives that only change to a solid polymer (or one substance) when there is no oxygen. This means when they are in the air they remain liquid, but once they are confined without oxygen they will set. These are used for jobs such as locking the threads in components and in bearings and shafts.

There is even a surgical skin glue that has been developed to allow surgeons to seal together incisions and cuts without stitches.

The potency in some glues has been illustrated by the development of glue sniffing among youngsters. Only certain glues give the required reaction, nevertheless over the years thousands of British teenagers have died from glue sniffing.

One key thing with modern glue and adhesive is to remember the likely complexity of their chemical makeup and their possibly strength. Many people find to their horror that their fingers have become stuck together with superglue – hospital emergency departments can offer many more horrifying stories of accidents with glue.

When you are about to tackle a stick job, it is today well worthwhile to research the most appropriate glue for the job and then to read the instructions carefully. Today, not all glues are the same at all, and if you do the wrong thing you may find you become very unstuck indeed!


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