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A strong, liquid Adhesive originally made from animal protein. Now the term 'glue' is generally used for any type of adhesive, especially water-based formulations. Animal glue has been made from ancient times by boiling animal hides, tendons, bones, and hooves in water. The collagen is hydrolyzed to form a semitransparent gelatin. Animal glues are applied hot and bind on cooling to form a strong, flexible and water-resistant join. Often glycerin or sorbitol is added as a plasticizer and phenols are added as preservatives to minimize biological growth. Top-quality animal glues are made from rabbitskin, sturgeon bladders, and parchment clippings. Hide glues are used in the manufacture of wood joinery, book binding, abrasive papers, gummed paper and matches. Bone glues are used as carton and box adhesives. See also Vegetable glue.

Synonyms and Related Terms

cola (Esp., Port.); colle (Fr.); colla (It.); adhesive;

Examples include: animal glue; gum; mucilage; gelatin; size; isinglass; fish glue; bone glue; parchment glue; Cologne glue; calfskin glue; nikawa; hide glue; rabbitskin glue; sturgeon glue;


  • Dried material may be combustible.

Physical and Chemical Properties

Soluble in water. Insoluble in oils, waxes organic solvents and ethanol.

Density 1.27 (dry) g/ml

Resources and Citations

  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Irving Skeist, Handbook of Adhesives, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York, 1977
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • Theodore J. Reinhart, 'Glossary of Terms', Engineered Plastics, ASM International, 1988
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: density=1.27 (dry)

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