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Sticking to it: Making glue in your kitchen

This article appeared in the October 7, 2011 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

Sticking to it: making glue in your kitchen

By Lisa Justice
Special to the Enterprise

There’s chemistry happening in your kitchen every day.  Freezers turn water into ice and preserve food from spoiling.  Ovens and stoves transform raw food into baked, boiled, or fried meals.

But the chemistry in your kitchen can produce more than just tasty things to eat.  You can use everyday ingredients in your kitchen to make useful household items like glue.

Glue is a special kind of substance called a polymer.  Polymers have long, stringy, sticky molecules that stick together in long chains.  Polymers are good at helping hold things together.

You can use the chemistry in your kitchen to transform some liquids (milk, vinegar and water) and a solid (baking soda) into a polymer (glue).

To make glue, you will need: ½ cup warm milk, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, 1 ½ teaspoons of water, 2 cups, a bowl, a coffee filter and a spoon or craft stick for stirring.

Start with ½ cup warm milk.  You can use fresh milk or milk powder mixed with warm water.

Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar and stir.  The acid in the vinegar helps curdle the milk and bring out the sticky proteins.

After stirring in the vinegar, let the mixture sit for 3 minutes.  This gives the solids a chance to settle and stick together.

Once the solids have gathered together, drain off the liquid into a bowl and discard.  Make sure to hold your fingers over the edge of the cup so none of your solids fall out.

Now line your second cup with the coffee filter.  Pour your solids into the coffee filter and gently squeeze them to drain out any extra liquid. 

You should now have a small clump of solids in the bottom of your coffee filter.  While your solids are being strained in the coffee filter, wash and dry your first cup.

Once your original cup is clean and dry, empty the solids back into that cup.  You can now throw away the coffee filter and wash your second cup.

These solids that you have left are the sticky proteins from the milk that will form the base of your glue.

Add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and 1 ½ teaspoons of water to your solids.  Now stir with a spoon or craft stick.

Stir consistently for a minute or two and watch the substance in your cup turn into white sticky glue.  Now take your glue out for a test drive.  You can use it for any number of craft projects.

So the next time you run out of glue at home, there’s no need to run to the store.  All you need is a few ingredients from your kitchen and a little chemistry.


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