Picture of Make your own glue
There are literally hundreds of recipes out there for making your own glues, many left over from the days, not so long ago, when people had no choice but to make their own. Some recipes can be for very specific uses, such as collagen glue for marquetterie (*), or a special formula designed for attaching paper labels to skeletons. Some glues are made with flour, some are milk based, others work thanks to natural or synthetic gums. I've seen one recipe which called for mistletoe, another for fresh blood, but you'll have to read to the end of this instructable to discover my favorite secret ingredient....

I have included here a small sample of these recipes -- but I'd like to reassure the folks at Gorilla glue: although really fun to make, these glues won't cut into your market share. Commercial glue still beats the homemade variety for convenience, strength and even cost -- with the possible exception of step #1, paper paste for large scale collage projects.

(*) boil deer hooves and antlers with some lime in rain water for a couple days, apply hot.
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Step 1: Traditional paper paste

If you've got a big paper pasting project going on (large group collage project, science fair display poster, etc) it is much easier and cheaper to cook this up rather than use white glue or rubber cement.

1/3 cup flour (all purpose white flour or bread making flour are best)
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp alum powder (optional preservative -- not necessary if the glue is for immediate use)

Mix flour and sugar. Gradually add water while stirring vigorously to prevent lumps.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, till the paste is clear. Remove from heat and stir in the optional alum.

Spread over paper or cardboard with a paintbrush. Press and smooth paper to be glued before the paste dries.

Store in a covered glass jar. This will keep for several weeks without refrigeration.

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JenniferL817 days ago

Can this be made with white flour?

belsey (author)  JenniferL84 days ago

Yes! All purpose white flour, or, if you happen to have it, bread making flour is even better.

RobertD1310 days ago

I used to have a book from the same era called "Fortunes in Formulas" I have no idea where it went but, it was as the title said. It had similar things in it as this book. what a great find.

yurigoul1 month ago

There is a copy of the book you mentioned on - scans of the original edition from the start of the 20th century in all kinds of ebook formats and as a pdf.

belsey (author)  yurigoul1 month ago

Yes, in fact in my description above I give a link. Text from step 5 copied here: "Henley's is now in the public domain and a PDF file is available for free here, but after trying to read off the screen for a couple hours I decided I wanted a hard copy."

yurigoul belsey1 month ago

Autsch, my bad

belsey (author)  yurigoul1 month ago

No worries!

In india we make it on Uttarayan (Kite flying Festival) to stick kites we call it lahe I make it myself in small vesal almost 1 cup for me & my friends in my childhood thanks to remember me to those Golden age.
kaley.roush1 month ago

do u have to use the alum powder and can u use regular flower

belsey (author)  kaley.roush1 month ago

The alum powder is optional, you can just leave it out if you don't have any.

kaley.roush1 month ago

do u have to use the alum powder and can u use regular flower

NotAPot2PN10 months ago

Belsey, this was amusing and helpful. And I love old books of formulae, too - leather conditioners, waterproofing for canvas, solutions to clean up fossil and mineral specimans, inks for pens made of feather shafts or bamboo, plaster for sculpting, determining the number of gallons of water required to fill the fish pond one has just dug and so on, so thank you for the Henley book. Now, if only you could give me a magic recipe for instant. delicious, Swiss RACLETTE,(w/potatoes & cornichon), I could die a happy old woman. Chubbier than pre-raclette, but happier by far.

belsey (author)  NotAPot2PN2 months ago

Just saw this now... and I can definitely help you with the raclette... because all you need is a big hunk of cheese and an open fire with a few rocks to prop up the cheese. Although I must say the little electric heater I have, though less "authentic" is much more convenient... Thanks for reminding me of this! Now I know what I'm having for dinner tonight...

Machine6 months ago

Nice instructable. Good job of showing it all to us with very good photography (are you a professional photographer?). I've been looking for some complete glue recipes and this is it. Thanks.

belsey (author)  Machine2 months ago

Sorry for the reply delay -- didn't see you comment till now. Thanks, and hope you enjoyed making the glue! I'm not a professional photographer (in fact all these photos are just taken with my cell phone!) but I am a professional designer. You can see some of my work here:

Hi, Would this glue be good for putting wallpaper on a cardboard house??

belsey (author)  michelle.zapien.562 months ago

Yes, the paste would work very well for that application. The water resistant one would work too.

cutie15210 months ago
14, 2:08 AM.jpg
cutie15210 months ago
It is cool
cribey3 years ago
Great info and find ~ thank you!!

I have some questions about this snail glue:

1. is it biodegradable?
2. can I put it in my compost?
3. does it glue wood?
4. is it poisonous to humans once set?
5. if i constantly run water over it will it degrade?
6. if it degrades from water and agitation, is it poisonous?

Thanks you for your replies to my questions
belsey (author)  cribey2 years ago
So sorry, I didn't see your questions till now... Not sure which recipe you're asking about, but here you go:
3. water resistant one might, but it's not super strong and depending on the stress the bond might not too durable. I did use it to glue tiles to cork a few years ago, and my coaster is still in great shape -- but I wouldn't use it for construction.
4. no
5. yes. It is somewhat water resistant but not completely and durably waterproof
6. not poisonous, ever, unless you make a whole jar, let it sit for months and then drink it when it's moldy and smelly.

OK, just saw you were asking about the snail glue, the only one I did not test. I think all my replies are still correct though I can't be 100% positive about the poison questions. I have eaten snails many times and I'm fine, though my sister once threw up on me after eating about a dozen of them (she was 8 at the time). I think it's the absurd amount of butter in the sauce which made her sick though, not the stuff in the snail's bladder.
Let me know if you ever try this!
Thanks a ton for the link. That's a great resource!
SUDHA212 years ago
HEY i want to ask that whether the glue which u made frm gelatin is biodegradable or not.
belsey (author)  SUDHA212 years ago
Yes it is.
badart3 years ago
Very Cool, as a sustainable artist will refer to this often. My favorite ingredient is GLUE!!!
thanks friend .... it s really nice . i made and used it for glueing papers . i lie it :)
i ll try it ... i think it s not water proof.. no problem... because i ll use it for gluing papers :)
You could use it for cake decorating.

How often do those carefully planned smarties fall out?
enisdogru4 years ago
It's not waterproof.I tried.
belsey (author)  enisdogru4 years ago
I tried it too, but for an item which required water resistance -- I didn't soak it in water for any length of time, so I believe you if you say it isn't water PROOF. I'll revise the heading and call is water RESISTANT instead. Thanks for the feedback!
I don't know why you would put milk in it, but gelatin works with the same principle as hide glue. It isn't waterproof, but it is heat resistant. Hot water is likely your problem.

Hide glue works by dehydration. As the water in it evaporates it pulls whatever it's sticking to together. If you rehydrate it, obviously it will fall apart again. Of course in most cases it will need to soak a while, or be steamed, which is likely what happened to the coffee mug if it wasn't the milk.
Milk is used for waterproofing but did anyone try to do it?
Is that strong enough for water resistance?
belsey (author)  TragicSnowfall4 years ago
I believe it's the milk which make this glue waterproof: cassein molecules are hydrophobic, so they repel the water and prevent the gelatin from absorbing moisture and loosing its adhesive power.
On the other hand, heating up this glue softens it, so it follows logically that it's the heat which made the cup fall apart. Of course water might have contributed to weakening it, but my guess is it would come apart in the microwave oven too. Next time I break a mug I'll test that theory.
To be fair, I wouldn't recommend drinking out of a broken mug anyway. If the sealant is cracked it could potentially release chemicals that may not exactly be healthy. Just a heads up.

Of course if the sealer isn't cracked, by all means, have at it.
theklink4 years ago
belsey (author)  theklink4 years ago
Why climb a mountain? Because it's there, and you can, and it's fun. In the case of glue, it can also be practical. You might run out of glue right when you need it, and it's good to know that with a little milk, baking soda and vinegar you can finish the job.
Will ants eat my glue? Just making sure they wouldn't bite me. Anyways it is good stuff dude.
belsey (author)  aquarian_xxx4 years ago
That's a good point... they might like the paste or the mucilage glue. If you use alum in the paste it should deter them. You can also put in a few drops of wintergreen oil (as preservative and repellent) but I can't stand the root beer smell so I don't bother with it. Also most of those large scale paper projects are usually disposable (you can only keep giant paper castles so long...) and in those cases pests aren't much of a consideration.
Well done! You've got a very easy-to-read, entertaining writing style, and the pics are excellent! And the best part is your enthusiastic plug for Henley's book! I immediately downloaded the e-book version. Thanks!
rimar20004 years ago
Thanks for sharing the recipes! They seem very good!

I was looking for a very low strength adhesive to attach plastic on plastic. It should be something like with 3M sticky notes that come off without damaging the paper. Maybe that book has something...
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