formulaire chimie150100 years ago, before or at the beginning of the industrial revolution, many types of glue were made from ingredients of natural origin.

The implementation of relatively simple recipes was relatively simple and within reach of artisans or even of non-professionals. The basic ingredients would be coming from the kitchen or the neighbourhood's druggist and the pharmacist.

Many formularies were published therefore bringing the experience accumulated over centuries into the reach of everyone. The examples that follow were taken from an undated formulary which was published in French in probably the early 20th century.

Due to the sensitivity of natural origin ingredients to bacteriological or mold decay, it is necessary to add biocides capable of stabilizing or preserving the glue. At that time, the biocides used to be called "antiseptics". Several of them are highly toxic and only can be used today commercially at low concentration or not at all. Indeed, due to the progress of organic chemistry, equally or more effective and less toxic substances have been developed. In addition, for several years a European legislation only allows certain biocides to be used when necessary in commercially available glues and sealants.

It is therefore possible to make glue according to the following recipes without the addition of biocides (unless some of the ingredients themselves have biocidal properties) if they are used promptly or if they are kept at low temperature for a few days at most. However, the risk of biological degradation of the set glue, especially in humid conditions, cannot be excluded.

We have not tested any of these recipes so no guarantee can be given to their suitability or performance. The recipes have mainly a historical significance; most of them have been collated by the original author from various sources.

Anyone wishing to apply some of these recipes must take the usual precautions: at a minimum, consult the relevant ingredient safety data sheets and make small scale trials to avoid irreversible damage to self or to property. Suitable rubber gloves and eye protection must be worn especially when handling toxic biocides and flammable solvents, even in small quantities.

Some observations were added in italics in the footnotes or in the body of the text, without any attempt to be complete.

Comment fabriquer des colles200How to Manufacture for Sale Inks, Glue, Soap, Perfumes and Polishes:
Formulae and Processes Accessible to Anyone.

Jourdevant Ed., Brussels, Collection for Small Industries, no date

Those wishing to produce adhesives on an industrial scale must carefully evaluate the raw materials acquisition cost and trials will be made to replace some of the ingredients by others. For example, according to the desired properties, flours and starches may be substituted with potato starch, chestnut flour, etc. With a little practice and by trying to understand the purpose of each ingredient and of the recommended processes, it should be possible to quickly adapt the quantities added and therefore obtain the best quality for the lowest cost.

The antiseptics can also be substituted by others according to the cost and to availability.

Here is a list of antiseptics which are particularly suitable for any glue:

  • Boric acid1
  • Sodium bicarbonate2
  • Salicylic acid3
  • Phenol4
  • Formaline5
  • Alum6
  • Terebenthine7
  • Thymol8
  • Naphthol B (or Naphthol-2)9
  • Mercury bichromate10
  • Nitrobenzene11

Remember that in the glue types sold in all office supplies there is on the one hand so-called American glue or white glue which is simply starch paste mixed with an antiseptic. We are providing a recipe.

On the other hand there are transparent and viscous glues which are made of a solution of gum Arabic.

When the packaging is well designed, the user is unaware that the content of every bottle costs just a few cents to the manufacturer.

In addition to office supply glue, there are other adhesives used in large volume by various industries including cardboard boxes, book binding, chocolate manufacturing, cigar boxes, etc.

Nearly any of the glue made by these companies is based on dextrin.



Flour 1,000
Rain water 500
Terebenthine 10


Dilute the sieved flour in a small amount of cold water to avoid forming lumps. Add to the container the remaining amount of water to obtain a milky liquid which should then be heated to boiling by constantly mixing in the same direction.

Let cool and when the glue is lukewarm but before it solidifies, add the terebenthine as a preservative.



Water 100
White dextrin12 30
Sodium carbonate 1
Formaline 0.5


When heating the water slowly, pour the dextrin while mixing to avoid formation of lumps. Then add the sodium carbonate and heat until the mixture becomes transparent without stopping the mixing. Stop the heating, pour in the antiseptic, mix again and package before cooled. This is a concentrated formulation which should be diluted in water before use.



Mix 1 kg of starch with 3 litres of water until no more lumps, and then slowly add 10 litres of boiling water without stopping mixing.

Before cooling, add 500 g of sodium bicarbonate.



Starch 30
Powdered chalk  50
Water  75
Spirit  75
Strong glue13 5


Heat mixture and when boiling add 15 g. of terebenthine; mix until fully dissolved.



Gum Arabic  100
Potassium salicylate 15
Plaster powder 20


Mix carefully with water until obtaining a thick liquid and store in well-stoppered flasks.



Break in small pieces the sheets of glue [gum Arabic or fish glue] and let soak in cold water overnight. Remove the excess water and melt in a water bath. Add an equal volume of vinegar and a quarter of alcohol.



Gutta-percha14 35
Carbon disulfide15 100


Process. Soften the gutta-percha cut in small pieces in a water bath. Then mix with the carbon disulfide [away from a naked flame] until fully dissolved. Store in well-stoppered bottles.

Use. Thoroughly clean the surfaces to glue with sandpaper until free of dirt and grease. Apply pressure until dry.



To 100 g of potassium silicate, add 10 g of powdered starch and 20 g of dry powdered soft cheese.



Dissolve some dextrin in preferably warm water until obtaining a medium viscosity liquid.

While this glue keeps well, it is possible to incorporate any kind of disinfectant.



Amyl acetate16 3
Acetone17 5
Ether17 8
Grated celluloid 5


Cover parts to affix and press strongly together.



Melted strong glue18  100
Powdered alum 5
Acetic acid 25


Mix well; use cold.



Add 10 g of powdered gum Arabic to a small amount of cold water, 10 g dextrin, 20 g sugar to obtain an oily mixture, and then add 10 g of glycerine.


1Dangerous in prolonged contact with skin
2Slightly irritant in prolonged contact with skin
3Irritant in contact with skin
4Corrosive and irritant in contact with skin ; characteristic odour above a certain concentration in mixtures
5Very dangerous in contact with eyes. Irritant in contact with skin. Cancer risk in the event of prolonged exposure to vapours
6Slightly irritant to skin
7Flammable liquid with characteristic odour. Skin irritant. May cause irreversible damage to the cornea in the event of eye contact
8Phenol derivative with characteristic odour. Skin irritant.
9Belongs to phenol family. Dangerous in contact with skin and eye irritant.
10Poisonous. Probably no more available commercially.
11Combustible liquid with characteristic almond odour. Skin irritant.
12Dextrin is easy to make: heat starch such as corn (maize) starch at 180°C for 2 to 3 hours (source : Wikipedia)
13We assume this is fish glue
14Gum derived from natural latex
15Highly flammable. Very dangerous in case of skin contact. Skin and eye irritant.
16Flammable liquid with characteristic banana odour
17Very flammable
18We assume this is fish or sinew glue