Glue sticks are a staple in most households, especially for children as they’re essential for various art and crafts projects. However, like most kinds of glue, they have a limited shelf life.
So, do glue sticks expire? Glue sticks do expire. They have an average shelf life of one year. How long glue sticks can last depends on various factors including how often they’re used, how well they’re stored, and whether or not they’re exposed to air. To make glue sticks last longer it’s recommended to seal them and store them in a dry cool location.
Keep reading to learn more about glue sticks, how long they can last before they expire, and how to make them last longer.
What Are Glue Sticks Made of?
Glue sticks are a synthetic kind of adhesive made from a combination of polyvinyl acetate (PVA), water, and other chemical substances.
They have a wax-like consistency and they come in the form of push-up tubes. They are very easy to use, even by children, as the adhesive is applied by holding the open tube then gently rubbing the exposed glue stick against the surface to spread the adhesive.
They can be applied on various kinds of surfaces and they provide a good bonding strength, however, they might not be as strong as other liquid adhesives. This makes them ideal for use in homes, schools, and offices. They can also be used in some simple arts and craft projects that do not require a high-strength adhesive.
How Do Glue Sticks Dry?
Glue sticks contain water which acts as a solvent that keeps the adhesive in a soft form until you want it to stick.
Once you apply the adhesive on a surface, the water will evaporate as it’s exposed to air. When the water evaporates, the adhesive will dry and harden as the PVA polymers remain for a bond with the surface.
How Long Do Glue Stick Last Before They Expire?
On average, glue sticks have an average shelf life of one year.
However, how long glue sticks can last before they expire mainly depends on how often they’re used, how well they’re stored, and how much they’re exposed to air. Unopened and unused glue sticks tend to last longer than opened and frequently used glue sticks.
Can You Use Expired Glue Sticks?
You can not use expired glue sticks. That is because glue sticks that are past their expiration date will not form a strong bond when applied to any surface.
So, it’s recommended to use your glue sticks before they expire and make sure to discard any expired glue sticks properly.
How to Make Glue Sticks Last Longer?
Glue sticks are an essential crafting supply, so it’s best to know how to extend their shelf life.
Here are a few tips that should help you make your glue sticks last as long as possible so you can continue using them for all your arts and crafts needs.
- Make sure to keep the glue stick sealed with the cap when you’re not using it to reduce exposure to air. If you lost the glue stick cap, you can use clear tape or another adhesive sealant to cover up the tube.
- Store your unused and sealed tubes of glue sticks in a cool, dry place where they will not be exposed to direct sunlight or heat.
- Try to use up your opened and frequently used glue sticks first and save any unopened tubes for later use.
Do Glue Sticks Dry Out?
All adhesives, including glue sticks, dry out over time as they are exposed to air and the water in their composition evaporates leaving behind an adhesive paste that does not flow smoothly when applied to a surface.
This will happen much more quickly if the glue stick tube is left open. So, the best way to prevent glue sticks from drying out is to make sure the cap of the tube is tightly sealed when you’re not using the glue.
How to Fix Dried Glue Sticks?
If your glue stick starts to dry, don’t be quick to discard it as there might be a way to fix it and get it sticky again.
Here are a few steps you can follow to restore dried glue sticks:
- Place the dried glue sticks in a ziplock bag.
- Fill the ziplock bag with paper towels soaked with hot water. Make sure that the paper towels are not too wet but not too dry either.
- Seal the zip-lock bag and leave it for 8-12 hours before taking the glue sticks out.
The moisture in the paper towels will help soften the adhesive and restore the glue stick to its original state.
However, if the glue stick has lost all of its moisture when it dried, it might be difficult to make it sticky again as the adhesive properties will be too weak to form a bond with any surface.
Can You Recycle Old Glue Stick Tubes?
You can recycle old glue stick tubes. Make sure the tube is clean and remove any remnants of the glue that might still be stuck in the tube before putting it in the recycle pin. You can also reuse empty glue sticks tubes for arts and craft projects such as putting chalks or crayons inside the tubes.
Are Glue Sticks Toxic?
Glue sticks are not toxic because they are made from completely harmless chemicals. They’re safe to get on bare skin and they are safe to inhale as they do not emit any kind of harmful fumes when applied to a surface. However, it’s not recommended to ingest any amount of the glue as this might cause some health problems like indigestion.
Can Glue Sticks Get Moldy?
Glue sticks can get moldy. Mold generally grows in the presence of any organic materials that it can digest and use to spread. It also grows in the presence of moisture and oxygen. While glue sticks are synthetic and do not contain any organic material, they are still exposed to a degree of moisture and oxygen required for mold to grow.
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