If you want to know everything about super glue, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I’ll talk about the origins of superglue, its uses, most common applications, popular brands, and other details about superglue that will help you in the future.
There are several things that you may not have known about super glue!
Its benefits are mainly very interesting to know if you have work to do at home and need a good adhesive.
Super glue can be somewhat versatile, as well. It’s not just the instant-setting, super-strong glue that only works on some applications. Either way, stick around, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Please keep reading for spicy information on super glue and its uses!
What Is Super Glue?
Also known as cyanoacrylate glue, super glue is a special type of adhesive.
It is a quick-setting and super strong glue that can bond with virtually any material, including plastics, metal, ceramic, tiles, rubber, wood, glass, foam, felt paper, and even human skin.
Check out my guide on the best glues for foam for more tips.
Removing it will be a hassle if you’re not careful, and super glue spills on your hands.
Interestingly, super glue isn’t water-based like most other adhesives. These glues are somewhat weak to water and solvents.
Bad weather can also affect the integrity of water-based adhesives. Superglue doesn’t have these problems because it’s not water-based glue.
Instead, super glue is based on acrylic resin, hence cyanoacrylate.
Acrylic resin is a so-called acrylic monomer, and this compound will transform into a more rigid plastic form once it finishes curing.
That’s how super glue hardens and becomes almost impenetrable.
In other words, super glue is plastic in liquid form that can harden and bond to most materials.
Super glue is an excellent choice for regular repairs and home construction, thanks to its ease of use and high strength.
Who Invented Super Glue?
Dr. Harry Coover accidentally discovered super glue in 1942 during his attempts to create plastic gun sights for the rifles used by the Allies in the Second World War.
During his experiments, he tried many unsuccessful formulas. One of them turned out to be a fast-bonding and strong adhesive. And that is how super glue came to be.
The good doctor only started selling it in 1951, and in 1958, super glue appeared on the market under a different name – Eastman #910.
It bore the name of the Eastman Kodak Company, selling it with moderate popularity.
Interestingly enough, Loctite purchased the license to super glue and named it Loctite Quick Set 404.
However, by 1970, multiple companies had started to create their brand of cyanoacrylate, and that’s how super glue was popularized in the world.
How Does Super Glue Work?
We know that super glue is based on an acrylic monomer that transforms into plastic once it cures.
Because super glue is not water-based, it doesn’t dry or cures in the same way traditional glues do.
Other glues only need exposure to air, and the drying process will commence. But that’s not the case with cyanoacrylates.
Super glue needs moisture to start drying and curing. It may sound off that an adhesive needs moisture to harden when, in fact, water is the number one enemy of most glues out there. However, that’s how things are with super glue.
So, if you used super glue on a dry surface with no moisture, it wouldn’t harden.
Or, at least, it wouldn’t cure well enough to be stable over a long time. It will simply stay in a semi-liquid state without bonding to the material.
Fortunately, there aren’t too many surfaces that are 100% dry.
The moisture present in the air is generally enough to start the curing process for super glue.
If the surrounding humidity in the air is above 0%, then the super glue will cure without any effort on your part.
You don’t have to do anything other than applying the adhesive and wait.
How Does Super Glue Cure?
When an adhesive cures, its chemical structure will change shape and harden, creating a tight bond that’s strong and durable.
The tougher molecular links will keep the material in place through the hardening process.
Super glue monomers will harden when they come into contact with the moisture in the surrounding air.
That’s why super glue will dry and harden almost instantly. The chemical reaction will tighten the bonds between the monomers, creating a homogenous and solid surface that will bond any material.
Super glue is also sticky, which helps to keep the materials in place until the curing process finishes.
Compared to traditional glues that cure when the moisture evaporates from the adhesive, super glue cures when it receives moisture.
It’s an opposite curing process that makes super glue a special adhesive. The bonding process takes place quickly, leaving most materials tightly clung together.
Super glue also doesn’t require clamping because the glue sets in a few seconds. The curing process will take a few minutes at most.
This single aspect makes super glue so popular among professionals.
For more info on the above, check out my guide on how long it takes for super glue to dry.
What Tensile Strength Does Super Glue Have?
Without exaggerations, super glue is categorized as one of the strongest adhesives in the world.
Right now, Loctite Super Glue holds the world record for the strongest glue.
During tests, the official team was able to lift a car weighing over 5 tons with only 9 drops of Loctite Super Glue.
Super glue can be used for industrial-grade applications and very heavy objects.
According to official sources, one square inch of super glue has 1000 pounds worth of bonding strength.
In terms of sheer bonding strength, I believe nothing can beat super glue at the moment.
Super glue is not only strong and durable, but it’s also highly resistant to water. Since it’s not a water-based glue, water won’t be able to dissolve or degrade it in time.
However, nothing is everlasting, and the same goes for super glue. It will eventually start degrading due to excessive exposure to moisture and other hazards.
Not everything is rosy and honey-dewed with superglue, though. It has its disadvantages, which I’ll get to in a moment!
What Can You Use Super Glue For?
What are the applications that you can use superglue for? This is key information if you’re ever going to buy super glue and use it.
You need to know what you can use it for! Fortunately, super glue is versatile and can be used for various applications and materials. This is thanks to its great strength, mainly.
Super glue can bond most porous materials, including fabrics, metal, paper, plastics, wood, tiles, ceramics, and more.
It can also bond human skin, so you’ll have to be careful about that. In any case, super glue is often used in arts and crafts projects due to its high bonding strength and instant setting time.
You can also use this type of glue for various small and big repairs. It can bond with leather, vinyl, stone, rubber, and other materials, which means it can also repair them.
Read more about the above in my guides to glues for acrylic and glues for rubber.
Super glue is a great choice for almost any material except non-porous plastic. It won’t bond to that one!
Super glue isn’t very good at bonding to materials with smooth surfaces. Fortunately, its moisture resistance makes it highly useful for home maintenance and repairs.
Are you having problems with the plumbing? A few drops of super glue should be enough to keep things stable.
There are various brands of super glue out there, and I recommend using the more popular brands.
They tend to have a better and more effective cyanoacrylate formula, hence their popularity.
No-name glues are likely to be bad and less effective at bonding to surfaces. You can choose between the following brands:
- Gorilla Super Glue
- Glue Masters
- Loctite Super Glue
- Krazy Glue
- Scotch Brand Super Glue
- BAZIC Super Glue
- The Original Super Glue
- Glue Masters
If you choose any of the brands of superglue above, you won’t be sorry!
Cons of Super Glue
As I said, super glue has its disadvantages, and it’s time I discussed them. You know that super glue is incredibly strong, versatile, and durable.
However, did you know that it’s not that resistant to heat or cold? High temperatures, in other words, will significantly affect the adhesive with prolonged exposure.
If you need heat-resistant glue, then check out the linked guide.
Super glue also doesn’t bond to non-porous materials like smooth plastic. Even if you use a non-porous material, you’ll need to roughen it before applying super glue.
Moreover, you won’t be able to reposition the material once the glue has dried, which happens almost instantly. The working time is almost non-existent with super glue.
Most solvents can dissolve super glue, and this includes nail polish.
It feels ironic that such a simple substance like nail polish can destroy the super-strong bonds between the acrylate monomers of super glue, but it’s true.
Lastly, super glue will bond very fast to your skin, and this is where we come to remove super glue from materials, including your skin.
To more efficiently remove it, follow the steps below:
- Soak a cotton ball in nail polish remover
- Apply the cotton ball to the glued area and saturate the entire area with nail polish remover
- Hold the ball there until the glue starts to come off by itself. You may need to repeat this multiple times to succeed.
This entire process may take a few minutes because super glue, although weak to solvents, is still strong and durable. It won’t come off so quickly.
Did you know that there are a couple of cool facts about super glue, besides the technical ones? Here goes:
- Superglue was invented by accident, as I already said
- In 2013, a portion of a 5.5 x 15.5 square inch area with superglue on it lifted 16.09 tons
- Super glue is often used in zoos to glue together the cracked skulls of baby penguins who harm themselves. It’s also used to glue together the cracked eggs of birds that have not yet hatched.
Now you know what superglue is, how to use it, what materials it can bond, and its disadvantages.
I also recommended a few popular super glue brands that you can use for repairs and construction work.
Cyanoacrylates are some of the most popular adhesives in the world, and for a good reason. Use them wisely!