There are times when you need glue and you just don’t have any on hand. It’s one thing in our present day society, when we can jump in our car and drive to the nearest supermarket or craft store and buy some, but what about after society collapses?
Glue can come in handy in so many situations (either in survival situations or around the home or homestead), that it is a good idea to know how to make your own so can make your own should you be unable to buy some.
Why Make Glue at Home?
Well, for starters it’s always good to know how to do something – learning new, useful skills is never a waste of time. Secondly, there isn’t always going to be stock in the local stores. If there’s no stock, you can’t buy it. If you desperately need glue, where are you going to get it? Making your own glue at home can be a wonderful family project as well.
Store-bought glue can be very expensive (especially when you’re buying multiple containers of the stuff) and often doesn’t last very long.
If you can make something that lasts longer, and save money in the process, why wouldn’t you?
Table of Contents
Uses for Glue
Glue is amazingly useful in survival situations, which means the skill of making glue with whatever you have available is so important. Glue can be used to:
- Repair tarps and tents
- Attach fletching to arrows
- Make tools
- Make coverings waterproof
- Seal containers
- Seal boats, such as canoes
- Coat sticks you can throw at birds, effectively trapping them (an old Egyptian trick)
- and many more
No doubt if you have a good imagination and enough need, you can find plenty of other uses for glue in survival situations. Now let’s take a look at how to make that glue.
There are a number of recipes you can use to make glue and what you choose to make will depend on what you need it for and what ingredients you have on hand.
We will go through how to make more traditional paper glue and paste, waterproof glue, basic homemade glue recipes, superglue, and even glue you can make when you are in the wilderness.
#1. Basic Flour Glue
Flour is a wonderful food that has uses that go beyond that of sustenance. This is a common glue that has been made for decades. It is simply made with flour and water, but it will dry out over time, so whatever it is used for should only be for the short-term. To make basic flour glue, follow these steps:
- Judge the ratio of water and flour by mixing it together until the consistency is a little thinner than that of pancake batter.
- Be sure you have mixed it until smooth and heat over medium heat in a saucepan.
- Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil.
- Remove from heat and allow it to cool completely before using.
You can store the glue in an airtight container and apply it with a brush. If it dried out, simply add a little warm water.
#2. Paper Paste
This is another glue that is great to use when gluing paper for projects, collages, or any other reason. You will need the following ingredients:
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon alum powder (a preservative)
To make the paper paste, follow these steps:
- Blend together the flour and sugar in a saucepan.
- Add water, mixing thoroughly until there are no lumps.
- Place over low heat and cook, stirring constantly until the glue turns clear.
- Remove from heat and stir in alum powder.
- Let cool before use and store in an airtight container.
#3. Basic Cornstarch Glue
This glue is longer lasting than flour glue and will hold paper together very well. You will need the following ingredients:
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup corn starch
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- Additional ¼ cup cornstarch
- Additional ¼ cup water
To make cornstarch glue, follow these steps:
- To a sauce pan over medium heat add water, corn starch, corn syrup, and white vinegar.
- Whisk or otherwise mix these ingredients well and keep stirring until the mixture thickens.
- In a separate container (airtight), the one in which you will store your glue, mix the additional cornstarch and water until it is smooth.
- Slowly add the heated mixture to the container and mix well.
- Allow to cool before storing or using.
#4. Waterproof Glue
When this glue dries, it is waterproof, which is very helpful when it comes to a variety of uses, particularly when sealing containers, tents, tarps, and anything else out of which you want to keep water. To make this glue, you will need the following ingredients:
- 5 teaspoons gelatin
- 6 tablespoons boiling water
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons glycerin
- 5 drops lavender or clove essential oil (optional, but can be used for their aroma and for preservation in any of the glue recipes shown here)
To make waterproof glue, follow these steps:
- Heat the water in a saucepan and stir in the gelatin until it is dissolved.
- Add vinegar and glycerin and mix thoroughly.
- Remove from heat and add the essential oil if using.
- Stir the mixture, pour into a mason jar, and allow to cool.
#5. Waterproof Glue with Milk
You can also make waterproof glue using milk. Skim milk is best because it contains more casein, which is what makes this glue strong and waterproof. You will need these ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 5 teaspoons (2 packets) gelatin
- 3 tablespoons skim milk
To make this waterproof glue, follow these steps:
- Pour water into a small dish and add gelatin by sprinkling into water.
- Let sit for 1 hour.
- Heat milk in saucepan until it almost reaches the boiling point, then pour it into the gelatin and water mixture.
- Stir until the gelatin dissolves.
- Works best when applied when it is warm.
Superglue is the ultimate glue because it will hold virtually anything together. It is ideal to carry with you when on the move and can even be used to suture wounds when you do not have access to medical help. Plus, this glue is super easy to make! You will need to following ingredients:
- 3 tablespoons gum Arabic (a substance taken from the bark of the acacia tree)
- 1 tablespoon glycerin
- ½ teaspoon water
To make superglue, follow these steps:
- Thoroughly mix the gum Arabic, glycerin, and water together.
- Put it in a container that is airtight and it will be good to use for as much as a year.
Note: Use this as you would use store-bought superglue, applying a tiny amount to both surfaces and holding them together for an hour. Use and/or wash glued item after 24 hours.
#7. Pine Pitch Glue
When you are in the wild and you need glue, you can make your own glue from pine pitch. In order to do this, you will first need to gather the pitch. To do so, follow these steps:
- Gather pitch (aka resin or sap) from a pine tree.
- If you need to tap the tree to access the pitch, you can use a knife or other type of blade to cut the bark away from a section of the tree. You will do this 3 feet from the ground and the section will be 10 inches long by 6 inches wide.
- Place a bucket flush against the tree at the base of the area from which the bark was stripped. The bucket needs to be flexible enough to take the shape of the tree or you need to create a funnel to ensure the pitch is directed into the bucket.
- Take your blade and cut v-shaped slits into the cleared section of the tree with the point of the V pointing toward the bucket.
- As the bucket collects the pitch, check it periodically and remove any debris that has fallen into the bucket.
Once you have your pitch, you can follow these steps to make your glue:
- If the pitch is in resin form, meaning it has hardened, then melt it over a fire. It can be easier to find the resin than sap because it means not having to tap the tree. Be sure not to heat the resin longer than you have to and not at too high a temperature. It shouldn’t catch fire (blow out the flame if it does and adjust it over the flame so it isn’t as hot).
- You will now mix into the pitch crushed charcoal from your fire in a ratio of 4 parts pitch to 1 part charcoal. This will help reduce the incredible stickiness of the pitch to something that is manageable.
- In order to make the glue stronger, you will also need to add 1 part filler material, which can be any crushed plant material or droppings from rabbit or deer.
- Beeswax, tallow, or fat can also be mixed in if you wish to give the glue more flexibility.
- Ensure everything is completely mixed together.
- The glue can be applied with the use of a stick.
You can also see a demonstration of how to make pine pitch glue in this video. Note in the video that he chooses not the use the filler.
#8. Dextrin Glue
Dextrin glue is what was used on the backs of postage stamps and to glue labels to glass. Because it’s stronger than flour-based glues, and disliked by vermin, it was also used as shoe glue. One thing to note is that this glue is very brittle, to soften it a bit, you can add a bit of glycerin.
Want to learn how to do this one? Check out this tutorial to do just that!
#9. Gum Arabic Glue
Like Dextrin glue, gum Arabic glue was used to glue labels to glass. It was also used to glue leather and/or oilcloth to tabletops. This one is strong and its fairly easy to make.
Take a shot at it yourself, here’s a tutorial to show you how it’s done.
#10. Egg White Glue
If you want to make glue and you want to do that with your kids, this is the project for you! This glue recipe uses egg whites as the base ingredient and the finished product is perfect for crafting.
You can see how it’s done here.
#11. Colgate / Toothpaste Glue
Yes, as weird as it may sound, you can in fact make glue from toothpaste! The end result is perfect for crafting projects. It’s easily made and stored and it lasts quite a while – when stored correctly.
You can learn how to make glue out of toothpaste with this video tutorial.
#12. Tree Resin (Mastic) Glue
Ever wonder what they use to set the stones into your rings and/or bracelets? Well, at one point they used mastic glue – mastic being a type of hardened tree resin. The glue is very strong – as you’d expect – and is surprisingly easy to make. It can last for a very long time when stored correctly.
This tutorial will show you how to make mastic glue.
#13. Hide Glue
The granddaddy of glues, hide glue was and still is the baseline for all homemade glue recipes. Each recipe would have different additives to make the glue resistant to certain things (i.e. water and/or fire). Due to its strength and durability, It’s still used today in restoring antiques.
Follow along with this tutorial to learn how to make hide glue yourself.
As you can see, making your own glue isn’t difficult. If you plan ahead with your prepping supplies, you can ensure you have the ingredients on hand to make the type of glue you need, whether that is regular glue or paste, something waterproof, or super glue.
You can even make glue with only the ingredients found in nature, provided you have pine trees around you.
Having the ability and the ingredients to make your own glue is important. You are bound to run into situations in regular life and post-collapse in which you wish you had glue. Now you can! Happy glue-making!
An urban prepper and rural wannabe, Karen has been working as a freelance writer for a decade and prepping for about half that time. She has gathered a wealth of knowledge on preparing for SHTF, but there is always more to learn and she has a passion for gathering and sharing that knowledge with other like-minded folk. Karen lives in London, Canada with her two children and plethora of cats.