Eco-Friendly Adhesives for Around the House

Photo: istockphotos/dscott

One can’t help but wonder exactly how eco-friendly any adhesive product can really get. As kids, we were scolded (with good reason) for putting glue near our mouths. And as adults, we watch our children with eagle eyes when they do arts and crafts. Those of us who are do-it-yourselfers probably know well enough by edour the blatant toxicity of most adhesives.

Unfortunately, the abundance and cultural normalcy of toxic, eco-unfriendly adhesives blinds most of us to the wealth of safer, aka greener, options out there. These cover everything from home construction projects and professional-grade adhesives to household wood or all-purpose glue.

For contractors and DIYers
The most powerful, and subsequently, most environmentally toxic adhesives are designed for the construction trades. That includes everything from subfloor adhesives to the flammable epoxies often used to bond natural stone countertops and other impermeable surfaces. There are now an abundance of eco-friendly, non-toxic products available. Adbond and Weldbond products, for example, both carry EcoLogo certification as green products. Both are designed to bond to any number of surfaces. Adbond is also marketed as a sealant for doors and windows, kitchens and bathroom remodels, among others. Weldbond, if you’re not a professional builder, is only available in small quantities (purchases less than $100) from this mosaics website. A similar product is Eco-Bond, a line of adhesives and sealants that are urethane- and isocyanate-free and California Prop 65 compliant.

For crafts and home projects
The eco-friendly household adhesive you need may already be at your fingertips, although not yet mixed together. It is possible to make natural adhesive for certain home projects, especially arts and crafts. The primary ingredient is milk. Combine hot milk with vinegar to separate curds and whey. Break the curds, combine with hot water and baking soda, and mix into an adhesive paste. It’s as simple as that (find a recipe here).

Or make your own wallpaper paste. This is an old trick unfortunately forgotten in the supermarket age. All it takes is one cup of flour, three teaspoons of potash alum, water and 10 drops of clove oil (as a preservative). Simply combine the flour and alum in a double boiler (or a small pot inside another containing enough water to boil, but not overflow). Add water until the mixture looks like heavy cream, then blend and heat while stirring constantly. The mix will begin to look and feel like gravy. At this point, it is ready. Add the 10 drops of clove oil and pour into a jar. This recipe makes one cup and lasts for two weeks in the refrigerator.

For little crafters
The art of sticking object A to object B is hallowed in kindergarten classrooms the world over. The only problem, however, is that a lot of glues, especially those the older kids might use that younger kids can get a hold of, are toxic. What already-stressed parent wouldn’t welcome an alternative? Here’s one: Coccoina’s Almond Scented Paste from Italy. In fact, in Italy this eco- and child-friendly paste has been used in schools since the 1930s. It is non-toxic, non-solvent and acid-free. And it has the sweet scent of marzipan. Coccoina is available in the U.S. from See Jane Work and in Toronto from The Paper Place retail store. It retails for $8 per 125 gram tin or $3 per glue stick.

Wheat paste — which works well for sticking paper to walls, papier-mâché and decoupage — can easily be made just by combining flour, water and sugar on a stove. It contains none of the added chemicals found today in many store-bought pastes or glues.

Perhaps you just want an alternative to Elmer’s — an all-purpose glue that you can keep around for any small task. While it is certainly not the only such product, EcoGlue is the most straightforwardly named. It is the self-proclaimed “first Earth Friendly power glue with industrial strength designed for the do-it-yourselfer.” EcoGlue binds to wood, stone, metal, tile and glass. Although, how well it binds likely depends on which version of the glue you purchase. Choose from basic EcoGlue Craft, Premium Wood glue, or the Extreme version for heavy-duty applications.

EcoGlue is water-based, contains less than one percent VOCs, no animal derivatives, has “excellent” water resistance and comes in 100-percent recyclable packaging. Learn more about the glue, including MSDS and technical data information at


Dan Hardingis a well-versed veteran of solar critique, commentary and reporting.  He has published well over 1,000 articles on a wide variety of solar industry topics, ranging from cutting-edge technology and gadgetry to political satire and powerful editorials. CalFinder is proud to tout Dan as our resident solar expert. He holds a B.A. in English from Michigan State University, and enjoys reading, writing and home construction.