All you never needed to know about glue

The following text is originally lifted from the trivia section of The Jakarta Post dated Friday, 4 July 2008.

~Compiled from various sources~

  • The Romans used pine wood tar and beeswax as a waterproof adhesive for shipbuilding. Beeswax is still used today as a reliable adhesive.
  • The ancient occupation of the "Gold Beater" was one who flattened out gold nuggets by hammering them in between the outside membrane of the large intestine from an ox (known as Goldbeater skin) to produce the gold leaf used in decorative gilding. The adhesive used to attach this metal to paper or plaster, in ancient times and still today, is egg whites.
  • Formerly known as "ol' pile o' bones", Regina, Saskatchewan, in Canada was a large source of buffalo bones used in the production of animal glues. The advancement of the railroad resulted in the slaughtering of thousands of buffalo, and the bones were later shipped back east on the same railroad, to be turned into glue. This type of glue has mostly been replaced with synthetic PVAs in the domestic market. But some glues still use a combination of animal or fish bone and PVAs.
  • When you are sucking in all the toxins from your cigarette, you can rest assured that the glue used to hold it together is completely non-toxic. It is made from a combination of casein (milk) and wax (to increase moisture resistance), and is absolutely harmless.
  • The manufacturing of synthetic adhesives is cheaper than the manufacturing of original protein-based adhesives such as blood, bones and milk.
  • Starch-based adhesives have been used for thousands of years. Starch on its own has no adhesive qualities.It must be boiled in water, which makes the starch granules swell, to become gelatinous, which creates its adhesive quality.
  • Starch is used as a binder in the production of paper. It is the use of a starch coating that controls ink penetration when printing. Cheaper papers do not use as much starch, and this is why your elbows get black when you are leaning over your morning newspaper.
  • Corrugated cardboard is often held together with cornstarch. In the production of cardboard boxes, the cornstarch is mixed with formaldehyde resin to make the cardboard water resistant.
  • Alfred Nobel used a cellulose adhesive (nitrocellulose) as the chemical binder for nitroglycerin, which he used in his invention of dynamite.
  • The Aztec Indians in Central America used animal blood mixed with cement as a mortar for their buildings, many of which still remain standing today.

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