Homemade Natural Glue




About: I like to make things with my hands, I like all things outdoors, and I am a fan of Sherlock Holmes.

In today's fast-life, sometimes we forget things in all of the glitz and glamour. We start to take things for granted, things like your everyday school glue. Though it is very tedious, making your own glue like the Native Americans once did, it can be very rewarding and give you that down-to-earth feeling.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

The main part of your natural glue is going to be the tree resin. Coniferous trees provide the most available resin. How I gathered my resin and rosin was by climbing my backyard pine trees with a butter knife and a Ziploc bag, using the butter knife to very delicately scrape large drops into the bag. Look for both resin and rosin, rosin being the harder yellower form of resin. If you are nervous about climbing trees you can buy commercial nature resin here: http://www.alibaba.com/showroom/natural-resin.html .

A few other things you will need are:
-Powdered Charcoal. When you get your resin/rosin to a pure form it will be very brittle and will not be an affective adhesive. The charcoal will give the mixture strength. I grinded up some excess charcoal from a recent bonfire. If you don't have access to charcoal you can always use beeswax.
-A few pots. You will need at least two pots. One will be for the initial melting of the resin/rosin, and the other will be for mixing in the charcoal.
-A jelly/jam jar. When the glue is done you will need something to store it in. An extra jelly jar worked great because the glue can be reheated in it.
-A filter. The actual product doesn't matter, just something with a small metal mesh that can filter out everything non-resin/rosin. Traditionally, Native Americans would place the resin/rosin in a woven bag. The bag would then be placed in boiling water; the resin would seep out and float to the top of the water, while the impurities would stay in the bag. I did not have access to one of these bags, nor did I want to make one, so I just used a small filter which did the job.
-*OPTIONAL* Some aluminum foil. The whole process can be messy, so aluminum foil protects your stove and kitchen.
-*OPTIONAL* Something to stir with. Though stirring isn't needed, it can help in the process.

Step 2: Melt the Resin and Rosin

Place a sheet of aluminum foil over your stove to protect it. Place the resin/rosin you collected and place it into one of the pot. Turn the stove to simmer. The melting process can be smoky, so turning on some fans and opening a door or two may help. There will be a lot of impurities, don't be surprised.

Step 3: Filter Out the Impurities

Once you are satisfied that most of the resin/rosin is melted, turn of the stove, and pour the melted resin/rosin from one pot through the filter into the other pot. The resin/rosin in the original pot will quickly dry. If you want every last drop of resin/rosin you can keeping melting it in the melting pot and filtering it into the other pot. You should have a fairly clear greenish/yellowish/brownish melted resin in a pot now. 

Step 4: Add the Charcoal Powder

Now, set the stove on a simmer, stir in a couple pinches of the charcoal powder. Remember, you can always add more but you can't take any charcoal back. Once you get your resin to an inky color you've added enough.

Step 5: Finish It!

Take the inky colored resin and pour it into the container, and you're done! The natural glue will dry in the container, but can always be reheated then used!

Be the First to Share


    • Made with Math Contest

      Made with Math Contest
    • Cardboard Speed Challenge

      Cardboard Speed Challenge
    • Multi-Discipline Contest

      Multi-Discipline Contest

    10 Discussions


    5 years ago on Step 5


    that is outstanding ! simpler that I would of guessed.



    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Something you can also use is beeswax, which I've had moderate success with. I haven't tried ground coal, but go right ahead and try it! Share your results here!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    For people familiar with industrial glues, a few limitations of natural glues like this should be mentioned in case someone contemplates employing it for a non-survival use.

    This particular glue is not water resistant and will soften and break under immersion or even sustained high humidity. Despite the high levels of turpentine and other natural toxins, insects and microbes will eat the glue if there is enough moisture.

    This glue is only a fraction of the strength of common industrial glues. Ordinary yellow wood glue will form a bond stronger than the wood itself. Rosin glues will form bonds about 25% as strong as the wood itself. 

    This glue will desiccate within a few years and turn brittle under most real world conditions. 

    These limitations are why we stopped using natural source glues in the first place.  

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Traditionally, Native Americans would use the glue to seal baskets, to make the baskets waterproof. In a more practical sense, the glue can be used in replace of contact cement. But it is most practical in a survival situation where you need glue and you have none, so you make glue.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Check out my other project where I use the resin in making emergency fishhooks: https://www.instructables.com/id/Emergency-Fishhooks/


    My age is close to that of Methuselah and when I was a kid "rosin" was spelled resin and pronounced rosin. Time has a tendency to do that to words. Buoy was pronounced "boy" as in Lifebuoy soap, among other words done different. Sorry to go off subject. Enjoyed your 'ible.