Prevent a Tube of Goop or E6000 From Drying Up Before You Can Use It All
August 16, 2011 11:12 AM   Subscribe

How do you extend the shelf-life of a tube of adhesive, such as Goop or E-6000 by preventing it from drying out during long periods without use?

I'm curious about how to get the most value from a large tube of partially used adhesive such as Goop, E-6000 or other epoxy-like adhesives? It usually dries up before it's all used up. How do you prevent it from drying out, thus extending its shelf-life until you've used it all up?

Someone has to have come up with a creative solution to this issue of tubes drying up after long periods without use. There's gotta be a secret technique for increasing the longevity of these adhesive tubes after their initial use, because they always manage to be dried up at the most inconvenient of times!

Of course, I'm aware that smaller tubes of the stuff exist, but they generally only come in tubes that are often just too tiny to do much good (0.18oz and 0.5oz). 1oz would be more ideal, but I haven't seen them around, and as such I want to get the full value from the large 2oz tube!

So I'm looking for any tips or tricks to extend the shelf-life of these tubes of Goop. Anyone have any successful experience doing this?
posted by purefusion to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
zip-top bags with all the air sucked out of it and a stored in a cool dark place.

I'm assuming they're drying out because the tubes are not air tight. (either the material the casing is made out of or the lid)
posted by royalsong at 11:27 AM on August 16, 2011

posted by nicwolff at 11:49 AM on August 16, 2011

Most adhesives cure by exposure to oxygen or moisture. All of them will cure faster as the temperature goes up. So keep them cool, keep them dry, keep the air out. To the last point I typically make sure the caps fit well and make sure they're tight. Crappy tubes/caps leak air and will cure eventually no matter what you do. You can significantly lengthen their shelf life by squeezing out all the air (headspace in the tube) and putting impermeable plastic wrap over the nozzle before you cap it. It helps a fair bit. Well-made tubes with tight-fitting caps can last a silly long time: I have some room-temperature vulcanizing silicone sealants (moisture-cure) that are 7 or 8 years old and there will only be a tiny skim of dried stuff on the tip when I open them.

For moisture-cure stuff with crummy caps (read: most superglues) put them in a sealed (plastic) box with some leftover packets of silica (the stuff that comes in some shipping boxes that says "do not eat"). If you open/close the box a lot, occasionally bake the water out of the silica packets to keep them absorbent.

(Pedantfilter: if they were epoxy-like, they wouldn't be drying out. Polyepoxides don't dry/cure until you mix the two parts.)
posted by introp at 12:06 PM on August 16, 2011

Smear some Vaseline on the threads!
posted by gregr at 12:13 PM on August 16, 2011

The past few years I've started storing my open tubes of Super Glue with the tip pointing up. I try to get the glue to drain out of the tip and back into the tube and then wedge it somewhere so it stands up. This is somewhat contrary to introp's well informed post, but I find this practice keeps glue in the tip from going solid and blocking the tip and making the whole tube useless. I used to keep them in the door of the fridge, too, but I don't think my wife appreciates this, so I found a place to keep them in my toolbox. Dark, dry-ish, but not as cool as the fridge.
posted by pandabearjohnson at 1:13 PM on August 16, 2011

pandabear: one trick for superglue (that I don't use, but have seen many times in other tool rooms) is to buy one of the metal syringe-type applicator tips that many brands offer. Since CYA glues readily break down under high heat, you just let the metal syringe tipe clog as normal and when you next need it, hold a lighter under it for a few seconds. I don't do this because I have no idea what CYA glue would decompose into under heat, but I'm imagining it probably isn't the safest thing in the world, and the CYA glue itself has a flash point of ~ 175 deg F. So I guess maybe I shouldn't have said anything. :P
posted by introp at 1:59 PM on August 16, 2011

Response by poster: Oddly enough, I've always had good luck with superglue. Maybe the tubes I bought had good caps though.

In any case, the FoodSaver approach seems more viable than simply sucking the air out of ziplock bags, but I don't have one, and my ziplock bags are rarely airtight, so I'll have to pass. :)

I might just have to try fridge storage though. Thanks for the tips!
posted by purefusion at 5:34 PM on August 16, 2011

No, ziplock bags aren't going to be completely air tight.. but you want the limit the amount of air that gets to it, not all air. I forgot to mention this is pretty easy to do with a straw.

And be aware that fridges are big dehydration machines. It might speed up the drying process.

Companies make things like airtight jars that have a rubber seal that might help.
posted by royalsong at 1:02 PM on August 17, 2011

Response by poster: Ah, so a fridge might be good for superglue, but not necessarily for the oxygen cured stuff? Hmmm, I wonder if going the fridge + jar route might be a better approach. Straw tip sounds logical, surprised I hadn't thought of that myself, because I do use the suck-out-the-air approach occasionally when storing food in ziplock bags.

In any case, I think heat might be the main factor in the tubes of oxygen-cured stuff drying up, as we live in a region with a relatively warm summer climate. Or, maybe the extremely dry winters could be to blame. Maybe a combination of the two?

Although, I was thinking that maybe the way I squeeze the tube (which is metal, thus easy to perforate) might be causing invisible holes in the tube wall, which would let air in from the opposite direction (as opposed to air coming in through the nozzle). That might explain why the whole tube dries up, instead of the top portion of the tube. These definitely aren't tubes of toothpaste! Heh.
posted by purefusion at 1:01 AM on August 18, 2011

Response by poster: I actually wonder if Glad Press 'n Seal would be more air-tight than a ziplock back. I do have some of that laying around. Maybe I'll give that a shot and see how well it works.
posted by purefusion at 1:03 AM on August 18, 2011

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