Best Super Glues

Updated May 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
130 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best super glue

You may not have heard of “Eastman #910” (the name it was given when first put on sale by Eastman Kodak in the 1950s), but you probably know what super glue is. Its rapid sticking action means it has dozens of uses, and today it’s found in millions of homes.

And there isn’t just one super glue; there are dozens. Every adhesive manufacturer produces at least one version and often several. The variety on offer can lead to confusion, and it’s no longer a question of whether to use super glue or not, but which one to use for the best results.

Getting stuck in that kind of problem is what BestReviews is here for, and we’ve been researching the different brands and products so we can help you decide.

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Super glue has very low toxicity, but like any adhesive it should be kept out of reach of children and only used by them under supervision.

Key considerations

What is super glue?

The proper name for super glue is alcohol-catalyzed alpha-cyanoacrylate adhesive composition. Mostly, we just say cyanoacrylate adhesive. Technically, these glues are acrylic monomers that are activated extremely rapidly by the presence of water in the air. Even on hot days and in dry climates there is some moisture present, certainly enough for super glue to work. The glue became famous not just for its ability to fix more or less on contact, but also for the incredible strength of that bond. 

Bonding speed

Bonding on contact is usually a huge benefit because there’s no need for clamping. On the other hand, if you don’t line up the two pieces perfectly, there’s a good chance they’ll be misaligned forever!

So, manufacturers developed super glues with different bonding speeds, and that’s a consideration when deciding which one you want. If you need high precision and a moment to position the items, a slightly slower bond would be better.

Curing speed

It's also worth taking note of the full drying or curing time, particularly if the item being glued is going to be under load or strain. Super glues may adhere in 10 to 20 seconds, but maximum bond strength in some types can take up to 24 hours.

Consistency

One drawback with the original super glue was that it had the consistency of water. If you only needed a drop or two, that wasn’t a problem. If you had a repair of any size, the glue tended to run and drip everywhere. 

Super glue gels have been developed to address this issue. They are thicker and don’t run. They’re especially good for gluing vertical surfaces and better than thinner glue at joining porous materials like wood and leather. Thinner glue would tend to soak into the individual pieces and dry without creating a good bond.

Cautions

Temperature: While super glue is good over a wide temperature range, there are limits. Frequent heating and cooling can weaken the bond, too. Most don’t do well below 40°F. Polyurethane glues are suggested as an alternative, though they take considerably longer to set.

Cotton and wool: Cyanoacrylates should not normally be used with cotton and wool. A chemical reaction occurs between the two that can produce sufficient heat to cause contact burns. In rare cases, it could even catch fire, though you’d need a lot of glue and a big pile of cotton to do it.

To prolong the life of your super glue, wipe any excess off the tip and replace the lid as soon as possible. Store the tube upright in a cool place. If the top sticks, hold it under hot water for 30 seconds or so.

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Features

Variations

While super glue is versatile, different formulations have their strengths and weaknesses. Some aren’t good at joining porous to nonporous items. Manufacturers usually indicate the materials their glue will bond to successfully, and it’s worth checking this before ordering. If you have a specific job in mind, it’s even more important. If you look around, you can usually find specialist alternatives. Their properties can be confusing, so it’s important to check them carefully. If you’re just buying super glue to have some handy, you might want to buy a couple of different types to cover all eventualities. They’re all very affordable, so you won’t have to spend a lot of money.

Medical: If you have ever gotten super glue on your fingers, you know how effective it is at bonding skin! You may also know that it has been used for medical purposes since the Vietnam War when field hospitals used it as a temporary wound fix to give surgeons more time for proper treatment. But that doesn’t mean you should try the same if you cut yourself. Typical cyanoacrylates are not a medical product. Many are an irritant, and their use on cuts presents a risk of infection.

However, after the initial successes, an antibacterial variation called 2-octyl-cyanoacrylate was developed. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2001, and medical professionals use this and variations of it for skin grafts, heart surgery, and even brain bleeds. Numerous “tissue adhesives” and “liquid bandages” have also been developed and are available to the public.

Plastic and glass: The smooth surfaces of plastics (particularly polyethylene and polypropylene) and glass can present problems for super glue. Several of the better-known manufacturers produce super glues specifically for these products. In some cases, they’re two-part adhesives that may require longer curing times, though they are still very rapid.

Water resistant: Super glue won’t work if you try to join items underwater. Some super glues are not at all waterproof and will come apart if immersed. However, some can be glued before being submerged and will then stay glued when the item is in the water.

This is not an exhaustive list, and new formulations are being introduced all the time. If you’re just repairing grandma’s pottery figurine, the standard stuff will do a great job. If you have a more unusual repair, spend some time investigating if a precise type of super glue will bond your items better.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Dr. Harry Coover discovered super glue by accident in 1942. He was trying to make plastic gunsights, but the stuff he came up with — cyanoacrylate — was too sticky! It wasn’t until 1958 that it started to be sold as a glue.
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Alternatives

Super glues aren’t the only fast-setting adhesives, so it’s worth taking a look at a couple of alternatives.

Two-part epoxy resins are another popular product for home repairs, DIY projects, and engineering uses. These consist of a resin and a hardener that is activated by mixing. Most take significantly longer to set than super glue, but rapid-set versions will hold in a couple of minutes and are fully cured within a couple of hours. The longer time is an advantage on bigger jobs, particularly if the pieces being joined don’t meet exactly. Epoxies are better at filling voids, and they often perform better at extreme temperatures.

Polyurethane glues are popular with woodworkers, but the pieces require clamping while the glue sets. Fast-set polyurethane is a construction adhesive that grabs in less than a minute and works with all kinds of building and remodeling materials such as stone, brick, timber, concrete, and glass. It’s waterproof and withstands all weather, so it can be used indoors or out.

If you’re concerned about using harsh acetone to remove super glue from your skin, try lemon juice instead.

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Super glue prices

In general, when we put together a review we like to suggest inexpensive, mid-range, and expensive versions of a product. No super glue is particularly expensive, but there is enough variation in price to make it a consideration, especially if you use super glue often.

Multipacks: For small repairs, it’s more economical to buy the glue in multipacks. Each tiny tube is only a fraction of an ounce, but it costs less than $1.

Single tubes: These are only $3 or $4 each, and top-brand gels are maybe $5, with 2 ounces of professional grade at $12 or so. Know that 2 ounces is a surprisingly large amount of super glue, and this price still represents good value.

Super glue is great for spot repairs. If you need to cover a larger area, try one of the slower-curing versions applied with a small brush. Get everything ready beforehand because you’ll still need to work quickly.

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Tips

Super glue spills happen. It’s not unusual to get a blob on a table, worktop, or clothing, and on occasions, people have been known to stick their fingers together. Here’s how to clean up those sticky situations.

  • Try soap and warm water. These can break the bond between glue and what it’s stuck to so you can peel it away. It’s the kindest solution to the skin, but it takes time and often several tries.
  • Try lemon juice and olive oil. Lemon juice mixed 1:1 with water or olive oil, which is a good alternative, especially on sensitive skin.
  • Try shampoo. If you’re unfortunate enough to get some super glue in your hair, don’t reach for the scissors straight away. Most shampoos and conditioners can weaken the hold. You can then try separating the strands with careful combing.
  • Try nail polish remover. This is often suggested for some surfaces, but it’s the acetone that does the work, and not all nail polish remover contains it. Apply the remover until the glue softens. If you use super glue a lot, it’s worth buying pure acetone. You can get it at the pharmacy or online in any size from small bottles to gallon containers. Use soap and water to get rid of the acetone smell.
  • Try ice cubes. Apply ice cubes in a plastic bag to varnished finishes. Do not use acetone because it will eat through the finish, too. 
  • Try the freezer. If you get super glue on a favorite piece of clothing, try putting it in the freezer for a couple of hours. The glue might break free without damaging the clothing.
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Super glue is great for spot repairs. If you need to cover a larger area, try one of the slower-curing versions applied with a small brush. Get everything ready beforehand because you’ll still need to work quickly.

FAQ

Q. Is super glue safe?

A. Mostly. Its ability to bond human tissue is well known, so that should be avoided, obviously. It’s very mildly toxic, but it dries quickly, so this isn’t usually a problem. If swallowed, small pieces can cause mild stomach upset. Some people find the fumes irritating to the nose and eyes, so you should always work in a well-ventilated area. As noted above, most types of super glue shouldn’t be used with cotton or wool.

Q. Why does super glue set so quickly in the tube?

A. Cyanoacrylate adhesives are activated by moisture in the air. This exists all around us, so the glue starts to set the moment you open the tube. Closing it as quickly as possible minimizes the problem, but a small amount of air — and moisture — remains inside. Some glue is inevitably lost. The best answer is to buy small tubes to minimize waste unless you have large jobs to do.

Q. Can I do anything to make the bond stronger?

A. As we’ve said, moisture is the main activator. However, small imperfections that exist in almost all surfaces at a microscopic level help the glue attach and form a stronger bond. If you have very smooth surfaces to join — shiny plastic, for example — lightly rubbing the surfaces with fine sandpaper can help.

 

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