How to make glue from recycled expanded polystyrene (styrofoam)

Picture of How to make glue from recycled expanded polystyrene (styrofoam)
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Discarded polystyrene does not biodegrade for hundreds of years and is resistant to photolysis, thus finding ways to recycle it would be helpful minimizing the damage caused by this material.

By turning styro into a well-functioning glue using a few simple materials and following a few easy steps, you reduce the percentage of expanded polystyrene contributing to the earth's pollution.

Orange oil contains properties that melt polystyrene. By using orange oil and polystyrene to make glue, you can create a more non-toxic adhesive that not only works well and promotes recycling, but also smells great!

What you will need:
1. glass jar with lid (preferably tight-sealing)
2. pure orange oil
3. mixing stick, or any sort of stick that can be used to mix substances (ex. popsicle sticks)
4. styrofoam (preferably old pieces of styrofoam meant to be thrown away)
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Step 1: Preparing the styrofoam

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Tear or cut your styrofoam into small pieces and place them in a jar.

Do this in a well-ventilated area.

Step 2: Adding the orange oil

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Place a few drops of the orange oil in the jar with the styrofoam.

The amount of oil you use will depend on the amount of styrofoam you have, though there is no exact fixed ratio.

(Hint: it doesn't take a lot of oil to melt a lot of styrofoam. In fact, it's surprising how effective just a few drops can be! Experiment first to see what amount of orange oil works for you, and move on from there.)

Step 3: Mixing

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Mix the oil and styrofoam in the jar using a stick.

Step 4: Transformation

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The styrofoam should be 'melting' because of the oil as you mix.

Step 5: Finished product

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When the styrofoam has completely dissolved, you should be left with a clear-like, sticky liquid substance. This substance is your glue!

Store it in a tightly-sealed glass jar to prevent it from drying.

Step 6: Using your glue

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The glue can be used on several types of materials. (Ex. wood glued to metal pieces)

Have fun and experiment on what materials your new glue is most effective on!
tezcatbus1 year ago
this is an excellent idea, and I already have plans for how to use this around the house. I see a lot of people around using either gasoline or acetone, and pro tip for potential police problems? don't use gasoline. the authorities side-eye that pretty hard. just sayin'.

Acetone, now, seems to leave it less pliable and milky-white, it stinks, and with thick applications the outside cures so hard it leaves the middle soft, cos the remaining acetone can't escape! The benefit is, it will dissolve anything that says PS or has the little 6 in the recycling triangle. The downside is acetone, and the necessity of leaving acetone in the jar, with your "glue" stuck to the bottom, which is a pretty severe downside.

I wonder if anyone has tried both? either way, I'll be sticking with orange oil. :)
Hi ! thanks for sharing this!! I have question.. what's the content of orange oil that can dissolve the styrofoam?? and, can i use other oil like coconut oil or banana oil instead of using orange oil? will it also dissolve the styrofoam?! im currently doing my investigatory project.. and planning to adopt this topic..Not the whole idea . 'cause im planning to use homemade extract oil..

Looking forward to your reply! Thanks A Lot!!! :D
ceanes2 years ago
Great idea it seems easier than acetone or gasoline.
rimar20002 years ago
Very useful info, thanks for sharing.

Some weeks ago I put gasoline on a styrofoam tray, and after a minute I saw it melted and drip. After I did a test as your, but with gasoline. The result was unsatisfactory, the resulting glue was not very sticky and take a long time to dry.

I don't know orange oil, I will search about it.
This is pretty cool. Gives me an idea that I can use for our recycling program at work. Thanks!