If you want to know whether super glue is waterproof, the answer is yes. But wait, it has its limitations!
Great for sticking together things that don’t want to be apart – like broken ceramic plates and the broken pieces of a model airplane – super glue works by flowing into the crack in a porous material and bonding two surfaces together. It dries quickly and becomes more water resistant as it ages.
When exposed to water, it should still maintain its strength with minimal leaks; however, prolonged exposure will weaken its adhesive strength with continued use and eventually render it useless completely. The longer it’s exposed to open water, the more likely it is to leak.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t swim or go for a dip if you happen to have used your super glue underwater. So whether you’re sticking someone else’s leg back together or attempting to attach your water-resistant ceramic plate to a piece of driftwood, super glue can get the job done.
What is Super Glue?
Super glue, also known as cyanoacrylate (CA) and commonly called superglue, Nail glue or even Super Glue is made of cyanoacrylate adducts, which are small molecules of different types of noxious gas compounds such as cyanoacetylene. This molecule is made up of two dissimilar parts: the reactive end (the end that will bond to other materials) and the non-reactive or anhydrous end.
The anhydrous part consists mainly of a mixture of acrylonitrile and methyl methacrylate. These two substances are known to be very very toxic in either their pure form or once mixed with other substances. These two compounds are also very corrosive and will conduct electricity. These two harmful substances together form cyanoacetylene.
It is this substance that gives super glue its strength and it’s precisely what makes it waterproof. The reactive end of the molecule is made up of 2-cyanoethylene (2-C2H4E), which has a hydrocarbon ring (the same as cyclohexane) and a carbon (C) in the middle between the two previous molecules and sodium atoms at both ends of the molecule, which are dissimilar with each other and can bond to other things.
This group of substances are all mainly things that have the ability to dissolve or bond with themselves or other substances. Another compound found in this substance is sulphur and even nitrogen, both of which have a ring structure. However, it is the cyanoacrylate part that performs the bonding action.
Is Super Glue Waterproof?
Super glues are known for their resistance to temperature and moisture and are used with stone, metal, wood, most plastics, leather, ceramics, paper, and most other common substances.
If super glue is used to bond two things, such as metal and wood, the glue should have an ability to withstand heat and water.
However, when a leaking is occurring on any substance that has super glue applied to it (such as wood), it will start degrading the material it is bonding to. This could be caused by a few different things. Not only can water cause issues but also rust which could be caused by exposure to the sun or other environmental elements such as extreme temperatures and moisture.
This is common in any material that is not completely sealed.
If water is splashed onto the glue you are using, it may be able to become stickier to some extent. This could be a bad thing. For example, if super glue was used to bond together wood and metal and a leak occurs, the wood will have pressure applied to it from both ends of the bonding area.
If this was caused by irrigation water or rain splash, it would cause a weld between those parts of the wood so that they are no longer able to separate from each other.
Is Super Glue waterproof? Well, yes it is! Yes super glue is waterproof when dry and can be submerged under water for a brief period of time without any problems of leakage. But prolonged exposure to water will weaken its adhesive strength and eventually render it useless completely.
The amount of time depends on how long the glue is submerged. If it stays submerged for an hour or more, then the strands in the glue will weaken, but it will still work fine. If it’s only been exposed to open water for a few minutes, then it may take days before there is any damage but this too will decrease over time and eventually fail completely.
So just remember that super glue is waterproof for a brief period of time and not forever! So which is how does super glue become waterproof in the first place?
How does super glue become waterproof?
When super glue becomes wet, what happens chemically is that it becomes more watery and it flows around in the open pores on its surface. The molecules of CA will still bond together, but they form a film of residue around themselves because they are wet.
This film is what holds super glue together and this keeps the glue from leaking. When the water evaporates, it leaves the residue behind and forms a thin film around itself.
This residue is what makes it waterproof in the long term and not just for a few minutes but for days or even weeks! But, eventually after enough time, this thin film will become thinner and thinner until there is no coating left to keep the CA together. Once this stage has been reached, the glue itself will begin to leak out of whatever it was holding together and you’ll have to go back to using regular glue.
The amount of time it will take depends on how long it is exposed to water and the size of the open pores on its surface. The more pores and larger they are, the faster CA will begin to trickle out. This process can take hours or days depending on the glue but time is when you should no longer be using super glue.
Related Article: Are Winter Jackets Waterproof?
How does it work underwater?
Super glue works by flowing into the crack in a porous material and binds two surfaces together. As acid combines with alkali in water, this corrosive element will wear away at these chemical bonds within a few hours or days depending on how long it’s been exposed to water.
Although, super glue is so strong it can’t just be exposed to water for hours or days. Exposure to water for only a few minutes will still cause damage and weaken the glue’s adhesive strength over time, eventually rendering it useless completely.
However, this protection wears off after a short period of time as the water corrodes away at the bonds between the molecules leaving a thin film of residue behind. This residue keeps glue from leaking out of cracks and absorbing into other objects and it allows layers of glue to be placed very close together. This is what gives super glue its waterproofing qualities.
The force of the water moving around inside the crack will actually open up and close the pores on CA’s surface, creating a wavy pattern on its surface. The thicker or more porous the material, the larger this wavy pattern becomes and this is what gives super glue it’s waterproof advantage.
The main protective element of super glue is its two layers of residues that are left behind when making contact to one another. These two layers act as a skin to protect the surrounding area from corrosive elements and make it almost impervious to water damage because they prevent water from entering cracks or pores in CA’s surface.
5 things you didn’t know super glue can do
- Repair broken jewelry:
If you didn’t know this already, super glue is also very useful for repairing broken jewelry because jewelry isn’t porous like other everyday items are. This means that you can use super glue to reattach a broken clasp or chain to your piece of jewelry instead of throwing the whole thing away.
- Fix dents:
Sometimes, your car bumpers can be damaged in an accident. The area where it was damaged can be repaired using super glue. However, it is very important that you thoroughly clean the damaged area before fixing it so that you get optimum results from the super glue. Make sure that the edges are clean and free of debris and dust before applying the super glue to repair the damage.
- Repair broken eyeglasses:
Super glue is different than ordinary school glue because it comes in a liquid form and it behaves differently when coming in contact with water or other types of liquids. Super glue will bond with certain types of materials, no matter how thick or thin they are! This is very helpful when repairing broken eyeglasses because plastic and glass can’t be glued together with ordinary school glue. Keep in mind that super glue can only create a bond between two surfaces that are both porous because the glue itself is not porous.
- Work as a clamp:
A normal clamp will bind the two items together, but you don’t have complete control over the tightness of it. With super glue, you’ll have complete control over how tight or loose you want your items to be together so you can use super glue to hold small metal parts together as well that regular clamps couldn’t handle.
- Shoe and Boot Repairs:
Super glue can also be used to repair shoes and boots that have been damaged by moisture, such as salt and water. If your boots are still in good condition but the sole is worn out, you can use super glue to attach a new piece of rubber to the sole. However, if there is still some wear left on the inside of the shoe from walking or running around in them, it’s not a good idea to put super glue on them because this will cause your feet to stick together for a short period of time.
Is Super Glue waterproof? Super glue is very strong and helps in many different applications, but it can only hold together porous surfaces. Superglue’s strength is in the moisture-resistance and the thin layer of residue that it leaves behind when in contact with water.
This is why super glue works best on porous materials like wood, metal, plastic, fabric and others that are both porous and permeable because they allow water to pass through them freely. If a piece of cloth or paper is glued together, it will not allow air to pass through, which makes it very good for creating waterproof clothes and material.
Super glue is still considered as the best adhesive currently available, however when you come across different types of adhesives that claim to be better than superglue, you must compare them on their claim based on your need. When you are choosing the best super glue for your application, whether at home repair or professional use there are many factors to consider.
The super glue’s ingredients may vary according to the manufacturer and that’s why finding out what type of adhesive works best will help in making right choice which might be applicable for several other purposes.