Introduction: How to Make Glue From Recycled Expanded Polystyrene (styrofoam)
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)
Step 1: Preparing the Styrofoam
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
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
Mix the oil and styrofoam in the jar using a stick.
Step 4: Transformation
The styrofoam should be 'melting' because of the oil as you mix.
Step 5: Finished Product
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
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!
Step 7: Tips and Recommendations
- Make sure you are using PURE orange oil! Any additives in the oil will prevent the glue from forming properly.
- Glue consistency depends on the amount of orange oil you add to the styrofoam. The more orange oil it contains, the more viscous it will be.
- The glue should be clear and hard when dry.
- The texture of, and way of applying, the glue is similar to rugby. Compared to rugby, the smell of orange oil is more pleasant, making it easier to work with.
- The drying time of the glue takes longer than rugby. It's maximum drying time can go up to 12 hours, though it is already quite solid after a couple of minutes.
- It can be used for various purposes, such as a clear protective coating for wood, adhesive for various objects, and sticky sheet for catching bugs (effective because of its lengthy drying period, thus it remains sticky for a long amount of time). In the right quantities, it can also be used to make figures and models because of its malleability and shape-retainability.
- If you do not have orange oil, there are several instructions online that can show you how to make your own.
We hope this series of instructions has been useful to you, and that you have been inspired to make your own supply of styrofoam glue.