Your choice of glue is probably more important than you might think. This article seeks to raise a few important issues concerning your choice of glue, as well as highlight what we, at WhatTheFold.com, feel like are the best choices for different applications.
Lets start by one issue that we find very important :
Food Safe glue
Food safe glue is important for any packaging you intend to put edible treats into (Cookies, cupcakes, candies, etc). The goal is to prevent contamination if said edible treat ever came in contact with particles of glue. No matter how careful you are when you apply your adhesive, it can seep through the paper, release fumes over time, bleed out of the joints, etc.
Here are a few option you might want to consider for any packaging that contains or may someday contain any type of food.
You can find a recipe for our food safe glue here: (Safe Glue Recipe for Food Boxes)
Water and Flour Based Adhesive:
This adhesive is entirely natural and safe. You could take a spoon and eat if you ever felt like it (not that we think you should, but you get the point). You can make this adhesive at home by following this recipe :
The Pros: it is completely safe and non-toxic, it is good for the environment, it is odorless, it is easy to make and it is cheap to make.
The Cons : It might require more contact time before the adhesive creates a bound.
Non-Toxic white or Glue Stick:
Everyone knows these types of glue, so we will not write too much about them. You often find these products with school supplies and are usually recommended for kids.The reason they are recommended for kids is the same reason we recommend them for food packaging : they are non-toxic, therefore they will not cause health hazard if inadvertently eaten or if they came in contact with edible products.
Pros : easy to find and non-toxic
Cons: can sometime have a not so pleasant smell (depending on the brand), liquid white glue may water damage the paper if you use too much.
Other glues or adhesives
PH Neutral Glue
Seemingly the same as regular white glue, it has a neutral PH which is often a desirable quality if you make archival boxes (boxes that you intend to keep for a very long time) the neutrality of the PH insures the glue doesn’t deteriorate the paper (the way an acidic adhesive might eat at the paper overtime).
Pros : very long lasting and not damageable to the paper
Cons : more expensive, sometimes hard to find locally
Hot glue isn’t really glue. It is a melted plastic that binds surfaces together. We do not really use Hot glue here at WhatTheFold.com UNLESS we are adding windows to our boxes. The reason we use it for windows as opposed to other types of glue is that the mylar we use for the windows is not a porous surfaces like paper and therefore regular glue cannot penetrate it and create a proper bound. Hot glue, being a surface adhesive, works much better for that specific application.
Pros : good for adding windows
Cons: not good for putting together boxes as it stays sandwiched between the layers which creates a bulkier joint.
Scotch tape is not an adhesive we would recommended as it would be visible. Use only if the final look of the box is of no importance to you.
Double sided tape
This can be an interesting option but make sure it is a good quality tape as it will otherwise tend to come apart.
Roll-on glue looks like roll on liquid paper but as you might have guessed, it release glue. I can work for small boxes or for boxes that use a thinner paper, but otherwise it tends to not hold for very long. Use at your own risks.
Crazy glue is not an appropriate adhesive for any box related applications.