How Does Super Glue® Work?

Have you ever wondered what makes super glue so strong? The small tube of super glue in your cabinet is actually a type of adhesive called cyanoacrylate.

Adhesives like epoxies and acrylic resins harden when they are mixed together due to a chemical reaction.

Cyanoacrylate is an acrylic resin that forms its strongest bond almost instantly. It only needs water to set. Since almost all objects have at least a small amount of water on their surface, super glue is very effective at quickly sticking things together.

Even the air contains water in the form of humidity. When cyanoacrylate molecules come into contact with water, they start to create a plastic mesh.

As the glue hardens, the strands of the mesh become immobile, making the bond stronger. If the glue cannot absorb enough water vapor from the air, it will not start the bonding process and will not harden.

The warnings on super glue are serious. Super glue does not differentiate between an art project and human fingers, and it bonds them together just the same.

The skin has cracks, crevices, grooves, and pores that provide the glue with a perfect surface to adhere to. Additionally, the skin is filled with water, which activates the hardening process of the glue.

Surprisingly, doctors have found medical uses for specialized types of glue. These glues are not available in hardware stores, but they are sometimes used in place of traditional sutures or staples to close wounds.

Try It Out

Are you ready to get sticky? Explore the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • In addition to medical applications, the chemicals in super glue can help detectives develop fingerprints. You can try this fascinating science experiment yourself by checking out the Super Glue Detective activity online. You will need a few items and assistance from an adult friend or family member. Enjoy!
  • Do you enjoy doing crafts with different types of glue? No matter how careful you are, it’s likely that you’ll end up getting some glue on your clothes eventually. What do you do when that happens? Read through How To Remove Glue from Clothes for tips that you can use the next time you accidentally get glue on your favorite pants!
  • How powerful is Super Glue? If you were to explain Super Glue to a friend who has never heard of it, what adjectives would you use to describe this sticky substance to them? Try to come up with a list of at least five adjectives that you believe accurately describe Super Glue. Share your list with a friend or family member. Can they think of any other suitable descriptive words?

Wonder Sources


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