Post 224 –  by Gautam Shah



Bio-adhesives are comparatively a recent nomenclature to distinguish a variety of Adhesive materials that are of natural origin. These materials are often only ‘primarily processed’ and so are believed to retain their natural characteristics. Synthetic adhesives pose environmental concerns of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, safe disposal and recycling problems (very long life cycles). The health and safety issues relating to hazardous ingredients, in foods, medicines and bio-implants, cause concerns.

tragacanth-gum-231301_640Bio-adhesives like other natural materials tend to be bio-compatible, and so there is increased commercial interest in them. There use in certain applications such as for biomedical and topical uses such as the bonding of skin and body tissues are being studied. The uses of bio-adhesives are being assessed, as food additives and supplicants, due to low level of toxicity. Secretions by microbes, marine molluscs and crustaceans, are being researched with a view to applications in bio-mimicry.


In 2005, researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) discovered that the glue used by the phragmatopoma to build its protecting tube was made of specific proteins with opposite charges. Those proteins are called polyphenolic proteins that are used as bio-adhesives. They succeeded in obtaining the sequence of these adhesive proteins and described the detailed mechanisms by which the adhesive sets. Inspired by these results University of Utah researchers reported in 2009 that they succeeded in duplicating the glue that the worms secrete and use to stick sand grains together underwater. The typical amount of glue that the worm produces at once is approximately 100 picoliters, requiring 50 million to fill a teaspoon. They believe the glue to have applications as a bio-compatible medical adhesive, for instance to repair shattered bones.    >>> from Wikipedia:


Adhesives are primarily bonding materials, but many such substances are also used as thickening and homogenizing substances in foods and medicines and as fragrance giving gums. Bio-adhesives consist of a variety of substances, but proteins and carbohydrates form a large section.


Natural adhesives or bio-adhesives are of three broad classes: Plant materials and exudates, such as starches, plant saps and resins, natural rubber, gum arabic, colophons, oils like linseed oil, and wax like carnauba wax, proteins like the soybean, and carbohydrates like starch. Animal products like casein, milk proteins, wax, glue and other gelatinous substances, shellac. Mineral products like Pozzolana and other natural cement products, silicates, asphalt, bitumen pitch. To these can be added, a range of modified natural products, typically various derivatives like a chlorinated rubber, cyclized rubber and rubber hydro-chloride.


Natural adhesives of vegetable origin include plant exudates such as: Gum arabic, colophon; Oils and waxes like linseed oil, carnauba wax; Proteins like the soybean, and carbohydrates like starch.


Natural adhesives of animal origin include various glues and other gelatinous substances, milk casein, shellac and bees wax.


Natural adhesive like mineral substances include silicates, Pozzolana, asphalt, bitumen etc.

Natural elastomers are natural rubbers and their various derivatives like a chlorinated rubber, cyclized rubber and rubber hydro-chloride.


Proteins glues such as a gelatin, and carbohydrates such as starch, have been used as glues by man since very ancient times. Postal stamps have natural wet-able glue despite synthetic alternatives. There are several applications where cooked starch or flour adhesives are used, such as for book binding, corrugated board, paper-bag production, paper tube winding, kite thread colouring, and wallpaper fixing. Casein glue is mainly used to stick labels on bottle labels. Animal glues are traditionally used for leather work, bookbinding and wood joinery.


Animal Glues: The term animal glue is usually confined to glue prepared from mammalian collagen, the principal protein constituent of skin, bone, and muscle. When treated with acids, alkalies, or hot water, the normally insoluble collagen slowly becomes soluble. If the original protein is pure and the conversion process is mild, the high-molecular weight product is called a gelatin which is used for food or photographic products. The lower-molecular weight material produced by more vigorous processing is normally less pure and darker in colour and is called animal glue. Animal glue traditionally has been used in wood joining, book bindery, sandpaper manufacture, heavy gummed tapes, leather shoes and luggage items and similar applications. Joints with animal glue work well in dry to moderately moist weather, but with high humidity (80 % or more) growth of micro organisms weakens the adhesive. In spite of its advantage of high initial tack (stickiness), animal glue is being replaced by synthetic adhesives.

Antonio-Stradivari Violin makers were using Hot Glue based on skin-hides of animals


Protein Glues: Casein glue is made by dissolving casein, a protein obtained from milk, in an aqueous alkaline solvent. The degree and type of alkali, influences behaviour of the product. In wood bonding, casein-glues generally are superior to animal-glues in moisture resistance and ageing characteristics. Casein also is used to improve the adhering characteristics of paints and coatings (calcimine, distemper coatings).  Casein is now getting replaced by urea formaldehyde resins.


Blood Albumin Glue is made from serum albumin, a blood component obtainable from either fresh animal blood or dried soluble blood powder to which water is added. Addition of an alkali to albumen-water mixtures improves adhesive properties. A considerable quantity of glue products from blood was used in the plywood industry.


Starch and dextrine: Starch and dextrine, are extracted from corn, wheat, potatoes, tamarind or mango seeds or rice. They constitute the principal types of vegetable adhesives that are, soluble or dispersible in water and obtained from plant sources throughout the world. Starch, and dextrine, glues are used in corrugated board, packaging, and as a wallpaper adhesive.

Kite Strings

Natural Gums: Natural gums, are extracted from their natural sources, also are used as adhesives. Agar-agar, Calcium alginate, a marine-plant colloid (suspension of extremely minute-particles), is extracted by hot water and subsequently frozen for purification. Algin, is obtained by digesting seaweed in alkali and precipitating either the calcium salt or alginic acid. Gum arabic is harvested from acacia trees that are artificially wounded to cause the gum to exude. In India Babool, Neem, provide such gum exudates (Hindi-Gund), some of which are also used in sweets, and Ayurvedic-herbal preparations. Another exudate is natural rubber latex, which is harvested from Hevea trees. Natural gums are used chiefly in water-re-moistenable products.



Bituminous Adhesives: Bitumen and coal tar derivatives are available as hot melt or softening, emulsion and solvent diluted materials. The hot melt or softening materials have a tendency to run at high temperatures. Bituminous materials are used for fixing waterproofing felt and roof insulation boards.



Post 218 –by Gautam Shah 




Historical perspective

An adhesive is a substance that as an intervening agent binds two similar or dissimilar surfaces (or objects) together and resists their separation. The term adhesive is used for substances such as the glue, gum, cement, mucilage, mastic compound, sealant or caulking compound.

Plant exudate Gum

Plant exudate Gum


Surfaces stick or remain together when forces that cause attraction are operative. A force of attraction is any type of force that causes objects to come together even if those objects are not close to each other or not touching each other. Gravity is one such force. The electrostatic force cause attraction due to differential electrical charge. The magnetic force affects objects that have magnetic properties.

Using Natural Starch

Using Natural Starch


Adhesive substances are many types. It is a solid that is dissolved by heat or solvent, a natural liquid that remains wet, a substance that in the presence of a reactant shows binding capacity, and a material that forms a longer chain (polymerization) over age or with chemical action.

Adhesives are joining substances, and offer unique advantages. The use of adhesives offers superior binding or joining in many situations. Its advantages are evaluated against other joining systems such as seaming, stitching, tying, knotting welding, forging, soldering, fusion joining, mechanical fastening, etc.

The adhesive like substances are valued, for non-invasive joining (without drilling, melting), ability to join similar and non similar materials, capacity to distribute stress across the joint surface, often without damaging the visual aspects of the objects, in some cases for demountable joining, functionality over wide range of temperature and other environmental conditions and facility to work without heavy duty equipment or energy use.


Adhesive are disadvantageous, in varied stress conditions due to environmental as well as structural loading conditions, require a large surface for adequate bonding and do not allow assurance inspection of joint integrity.


Earliest adhesives were plant exudates like gums and resins, and of animal origin like hide gums. The adhesives were perhaps used for joining, dissimilar materials for tools making, broken ceramics, and for waterproofing boats and canoes. Many of the primitive applications of binding materials were similar to use of painting or surface coatings materials.


Starches constitute largest and oldest form of adhesives. The starch is derived from cereals like, rice, wheat, and maize and vegetables like, potatoes, and agri. products like, corns, arrowroot, millet, sago, sorghum, bananas, barley, water chestnuts and yams, favas, lentils, mung beans, peas, and chickpeas. Starch grains have been detected in mill stone dating back to 30,000 years. Starch was used to join parts of adornments and as a hair fixer. Till the last century, Starch was used to size cotton fabrics and add weight to silk fibres. In modern age starch is used in paper making and for surface finishing. Starch is used as an eco-friendly gum for cigarette filter buds, forming corrugated paper boards, seaming tea bags. Starch has been traditional adhesive for forming kites and coat kite-strings. Starch is used as additive to gypsum for dry-wall boards.



Adhesive materials like, gums, glues, starches, egg whites, casein and other proteins, have been used in art work painting to fix various types of colourants. The Egyptians have extensively used animal-glues in tombs, furniture, ivory and papyrus items. Many societies worlds over have used adhesive materials to fix decorations on adornments, ornaments, etc. In Europe during the middle ages, egg whites were used to decorate parchments with gold leaves. Adhesives made of starch were used by Egyptians dating back 3,300 years, for bonding non-woven fabrics from fibres of reed plant -papyrus, and as a sizing material.

Roman concrete Vault of Pozzolana cement

Roman concrete Vault of Pozzolana cement

Limes and natural cementing materials like Pozzolana (volcanic ash), calcium carbonate and sulphates, were used in masonry work. Bitumen, tar pitches, and beeswax were used as caulk or sealants and also as adhesive for fixing statues and other repair work.

Cement masonry

Cement masonry

Wooden objects were bonded with glues from fish, horn and cheese. Hide glue was extensively produced in Holland and Fish glue was produced by the British, in 1750s.