Why Does Glue Smell Like Fish? What The Fishy Smell In Glue Means

Different kinds of glue have different odors. While some kinds of glues have a mild sweet smell, other kinds are said to have an unpleasant fishy smell.

The distinctive smell of glue of any kind mainly depends on what the glue is made of.

So, why does glue smell like fish? Glue smells like fish because it’s made from latex polymers mixed with a solvent that keeps it in liquid form. These latex polymers are characterized by having a fishy smell so when the glue is applied to a surface, the solvent will evaporate into the air as it dries along with volatile chemical compounds that are responsible for spreading the smell of the glue.

Keep reading to learn more about latex-based glue and how to get rid of the fishy smell of glue.

What Is Latex-Based Glue?

latex based glue to explain why does glue smell like fish

Latex-based glue is also known as rubber cement. It’s an adhesive that’s made from latex polymers mixed with ammonia and chemicals solvent such as acetone, hexane, heptane, or toluene.

The most popular brand of latex-based glue is called Copydex. It can be used on various surfaces including paper, metal, and wood but it’s more commonly used with fabric such as upholstery and carpet. It’s also frequently used as a lash glue as it’s relatively non-toxic so it’s safe to use near your eyes and can be easily removed.

Why Does Latex-Based Glue Have a Fishy Smell?

Glue generally smells like the chemical compounds and/or solvents it’s made of.

Latex-based glue is mainly made of latex polymers and ammonia which give the glue its adhesive properties as well as its distinctive fishy smell. It also contains a solvent that is responsible for keeping the glue in liquid form when it’s inside the container

Once the glue is applied on any surface, the solvent will evaporate as the glue dries while the base chemical compound the glue is made of will stay on the surface to form a bond that will cause the glue to stick.

When the solvent evaporates in the air, it also releases volatile organic compounds that spread the smell of glue. The smell of glue can last from 12 to 24 hours, depending on how fast the glue dries and cures.

How to Remove the Fishy Smell of Glue?

Unfortunately, there’s no way for you to completely remove the fishy smell of glue as it comes from its chemical composition.  However, there are some ways to reduce the severity of the smell and prevent it from building up in the room

Here are the methods you can use to reduce the scent of glue until the glue is completely dried and cured:

  • If you’re not using the glue container, make sure you keep it tightly sealed to prevent exposing the glue to air and causing the solvent to evaporate.
  • Make sure you’re working in a well-ventilated room. Try to open all the windows to allow more fresh air in. You can also place a fan in the room to improve circulation which can also speed up the drying process.
  • Use an air purifier in the room to reduce the severity of the smell. It’s recommended to use an air purifier with a carbon filter as it can absorb more of the unpleasant smell in a short period of time.
  • Use natural smell absorbers such as vinegar, baking soda, or charcoal. You can put the absorbers in a bowl and leave them in the room where the glue is drying for about 12 hours to reduce the severity of the smell. For maximum effect, it’s recommended to place more than one bowl and replace the absorbers every few hours.

Interested in learning more? Check out how to make glue dry faster here. You can also learn how to make dry glue wet again here.

Related Questions

Is Glue Made from Fish?

Some kinds of glue are made by boiling the skin or bones of fish in water. That is because the skin and bones of fish contain collagen which works as a strong adhesive material. There are other animals that have collagen in their bodies such as horses, cattle, and rabbits.

Is It Dangerous to Inhale Glue?

It is dangerous to inhale glue as it can cause a lot of damage to your health. Although inhaling glue can cause a temporary sense of euphoria, it can also cause headaches, nausea, disorientation, and abdominal pain. In some cases, it might lead to permanent brain damage and respiratory failure.

Can You Make Glue Dry Faster with Heat?

You can make glue dry faster with heat as glue generally dries fastest when the temperature is high and the amount of moisture in the air is low. You can leave the glue to dry on its own in the sun or you can use a hair dryer to dry it yourself. You can also use a heater to increase room temperature or cover the glue spot with an electric blanket.

Helpful Resources 

Polymer Latices – Science and Technology Volume 3: Applications of latices – 1997

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