How do adhesives (i.e superglue) not stick to their container?
Asked by: Sarah Abel


Superglue is based upon a cyano-acrylate monomer which requires moisture, usually in the form of water or some other active hydrogen bearing compound to polymerise. Superglue will not stick to the tube as the inside contains oxygen, in the form of air, but excludes water. Thus oxygen inhibits the process of polymerisation while water catalyses the reaction.

This explains why a thin layer of glue is ideal to bond two surfaces together rather than a thick layer of glue. A thin layer can easily obtain the moisture it needs to catalyse from the atmosphere, while a thick layer is unable to do so.

This also explains why spilt glue adheres so well to your skin; skin being warm and moist makes an ideal substrate.
Answered by: David Latchman, B.Sc. Physics, University of the West Indies

Support US

Our server costs have gone up and our advertising revenue has gone down. You do the math! If you find our site useful, consider donating to keep us going. Thanks!

Science Quote

'Beauty is a harmonious relation between something in our nature and the quality of the object which delights us.'

Blaise Pascal

All rights reserved. © Copyright '1995-'2018   Privacy Statement | Cookie Policy