Have you ever wondered how to make glue? You can make your own homemade glue – even specialty crafting glues. Why would you want to do that? It’s not always much of a money-saver, but you can make exactly the glue you like in exactly the amounts you need.
Why make your own glue?
You may be wondering why you’d want to do this. It’s true that store-bought glue is mostly cheap and effective, though some specialty glues are expensive and hard to find.
One reason is that it’s fun. Making glue is a craft in and of itself, and if you’re crafty, that’s something you’ll enjoy.
Another reason is that you can in some cases make a better glue for your purposes. This is especially true if you’re doing an arts or crafts project with particular needs.
And you won’t have to worry about store-bought glue drying out before you can use it up, so you end up buying more. When you make it yourself, you’ll rarely have any glue going to waste.
Besides, learning how to make glue for yourself is a form of crafting. It’s fun, interesting and educational (many of these glue recipes are safe for kids to help with).
You may want to get some reusable glue bottles like these that I have. They have a good size opening for refilling, and I haven’t had any trouble with leaking. They’re air tight, which keeps the glue from drying out or molding.
And if you need some craft ideas to do with kids, check out Martha Stewart’s Favorite Crafts for Kids: 175 Projects for Kids of All Ages from Books-A-Million. It’s written for adults who are helping little kids (as young as 2) learn to craft.
Recipes #2-4 are great for craft items like the super-cute Cotton Ball Sheep and the Paper Bag Puppets. You may want to start by learning how to make glue from those recipes.
I’ve scattered some links through these recipes, and they all take you to the products I have used at some point. In many cases, I’m sure another brand would work well, too.
I just wanted to make any shopping you have to do as easy as possible!
How to Make Glue
Please note: we keep getting asked what glue would be safe to put on skin. We are not scientists, and everyone’s skin reacts to different things. So we can’t advise you on that.
1. Flour glue recipe
The most basic of the homemade glue recipes, which you may already be familiar with, is just made of flour and water. It tends to dry out over time and stop holding together whatever it was holding together, but it’s fine for, say, making decorations you only intend to keep up for a few hours.
- Blend flour with water until it’s near the consistency of pancake batter.
- Beat your mixture until it’s smooth.
- Pour it into a saucepan on medium heat.
- Constantly stir while bringing it slowly to a boil.
- Let it cool before using.
Store it in a sealed container and apply it with a brush. If it dries out, you can mix a little warm water into it.
2. Cornstarch glue recipe
This is another basic glue recipe that works better than the flour recipe. The cornstarch makes it good for holding paper together without making ripples or bubbles.
It works well for making a magazine holder out of a cereal box and paper. You can also make a glue stick out of it if you have an old glue stick container for it.
- Pour 3/4 cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add 1/4 cup cornstarch, 2 tablespoons light corn syrup and 1 teaspoon white vinegar.
- Whisk the ingredients together until they’re blended well.
- Stir the mixture constantly until it thickens.
- In the airtight container where you want to store your glue, whisk 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup water together until smooth.
- Take the saucepan off heat. Slowly add the mixture from your saucepan into the container, and keep whisking constantly so everything blends together smoothly.
- Let it cool to room temperature before using.
3. Corn syrup glue recipe
This makes yet another basic homemade glue made with corn syrup. NOTE: I keep getting questions about whether any of these work for slime. I haven’t tested it myself, but several readers report that this recipe works great for slime.
- In a small saucepan, mix 3/4 cup water with 2 tablespoons corn syrup and 1 tablespoon white vinegar.
- Bring the mixture to a rolling boil.
- In bowl, mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 3/4 cups cold water.
- Slowly add the cold mixture into the hot mixture. Stir constantly for one minute.
- Remove from heat.
- Once it’s cooled, pour the mixture into its final container. Let it stand overnight at room temperature before using.
4. Basic paste recipe
This recipe makes a simple paste suitable for kids’ crafts.
- Slowly add cold water to 1/2 cup flour until the consistency is like heavy cream.
- Simmer in a saucepan for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Let it cool before use.
5. No-cook paste
This recipe is so easy, and kids can totally make it themselves. It makes a thick paste that won’t hold forever, but is suitable for kids’ crafts.
- Mix 1/2 cup flour water in a bowl, adding the water slowly while stirring, until the consistency is gooey.
- Stir in a pinch of salt.
6. Waterproof glue (without milk)
When you’re gluing something together that’s going to go under water, you need a glue that doesn’t melt. This is that recipe. This homemade glue needs to be applied warm – the first time you cook it up, that’s simple.
For future applications, put your container in a bowl, pan or sink of hot water to warm it up again. Apply it with a brush. It can take a few days to gel, but it’s good for lots of crafts.
A lot of waterproof homemade glue recipes include milk, which of course spoils quickly. This one will actually keep for a while, but isn’t quite strong enough to hold together something like a broken china plate.
- Boil 6 tablespoons of water in a saucepan.
- Take the saucepan off heat. Stir in 1/2 ounce (14 grams) of unflavored gelatin – that’s 2 packets in most brands I know of in the US. (Unless you want your glue to smell like a gelatin flavor, which is an interesting thought.)
- Once the gelatin has dissolved, add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and a teaspoon of glycerine.
- Stir well. Let it cool a little before pouring it into your airtight container.
7. Waterproof glass glue (with milk)
This homemade glue can be used to mend broken china, like super glue. It also works well to glue labels on cans and jars, or to glue glass to other surfaces. All in all, it’s pretty strong.
For gluing glass to other surfaces, use it while it’s liquid (warm it by putting the container in a pan of hot water). To glue pieces of glass together, use it in its gelled (room temperature) state.
Note from reader Eva Stosic, “The milk glue will last forever if you add mint extract. I make clay and it lasts no mildew or mold.”
- Pour two tablespoons of cold water into a small bowl.
- Sprinkle 2 packets of unflavored gelatin over the water and set aside for about an hour.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of skim milk to just below boiling and pour it into the gelatin and water.
- Stir the mixture until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
- Optionally, add a few drops of clove oil as a preservative if you’re not going to use all the glue immediately. (With clove oil, the glue will keep for a day or so – when it starts smelling like spoiled milk, throw it out.)
- Or instead of clove oil, add a few drops of mint extract, which one reader says will make it last forever. Try it and let me know in the comments!
8. Papier-Mache paste
This paste will keep for several weeks. It’s perfect for gluing down layers of papier-mache or collages.
- Mix 1/4 cup of flour into a cup of room temperature water until the consistency is runny.
- In a large saucepan, heat 5 cups of water to a gentle boil. Stir your flour and water mixture into it.
- Gently boil for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Let it cool before use.
9. Gum Arabic (Superglue) recipe
This glue is designed to mend broken china and crockery. For that specific use, it should perform a little better than the glass glue at #7. Use a matchstick to apply a very thin coat of it to both sides of broken crockery, and then fit the pieces together. As you would do with Superglue, hold the pieces firmly together until the glue dries, which could be up to an hour. Let it dry at least twenty-four hours before you use or wash the mended piece. This glue will keep for a year.
- Mix 3 tablespoons of gum arabic, 1 tablespoon of glycerine and 1/2 teaspoon of water thoroughly in a bowl.
- Put the mixture in an airtight container. Will keep about 1 year.
- To Use: Apply a thin coat of the glue to each surface and fit the pieces together. Hold firmly until the glue dries – this could take an hour or so. Let the piece dry thoroughly (24 hours) before washing or using.
10. Envelope/stamp glue
If you making your own envelopes, you’ll need lickable glue for them. Here’s how to make glue that’s completely edible – every ingredient in it is safe to eat.
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or mint extract
Put the vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add in the gelatin and stir to completely dissolve it. Add the sugar and extract and stir some more. Use a brush to apply it to homemade envelopes or stamps, and let it dry for several hours. Store the unused glue in the refrigerator to keep it from molding. It keeps for a week or two.
11. Library paste
This paste is used for binding paper and paperboard.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon alum
- 4 cups water
- Optional: 30 drops of clove oil
Mix all the ingredients except the clove oil together in a saucepan. Cook on medium heat until the mixture is clear and thick. Optionally add your 30 drops of clove oil as a preservative. Store in small jars, so that only a small amount is being exposed to air and dried out every time you open it.
Note: if you’re looking for wallpaper paste, I haven’t tested it myself. But both the Corn Starch Glue (#2) and the Library Paste (#11) are recommended.
Now you know how to make glue eleven different ways. These should cover most of your crafting needs.