Permanence of super glue

Last Updated on February 28, 2019 by Dave Farquhar

“What’s the permanence of super glue?” someone asked me the other day. It’s an interesting question and unfortunately, the answer is, it depends.

permanence of super glue
Under ideal conditions, super glue is incredibly strong. But it has weaknesses. Under some conditions, it’s permanent. But in other conditions, especially cold temperatures, it’s very temporary.

If keep the object indoors in a temperature and humidity controlled environment and away from a lot of of side by side force, it’s pretty permanent. You can debond super glue with chemicals like acetone. But if you don’t do that, it will last decades. I have stuff I glued together 25 years ago that’s still holding together fine.

Weaknesses of super glue

But super glue is very sensitive to side to side movement. Its up and down strength is exceptional, but it’s brittle, like a lot of rocks. If you bang your head on granite you’ll regret it. But if you drop a piece of granite on the ground, it will shatter. Super glue is like that. Its tensile strength is great but its shear strength leaves something to be desired.

I once glued a post on a ceiling fan back together. It held for a few years, but then when I bumped the fan one day from the side, it popped right back apart.

It’s also really sensitive to temperature. Put something you glued together in the freezer overnight, then when you take it out, you can pull it back apart rather easily. So if I glued something together and put it outside, I wouldn’t expect it to get through the month of January in Missouri. July maybe, but definitely not January. So when you use super glue outdoors, it’s definitely a temporary fix.

How to take apart something superglued together

You can exploit this if you need to take something apart that was put together with super glue. Put the item in a freezer overnight, or even a bit longer. When you take the item out, try to take it apart, using a twisting motion to whatever degree you can. If the piece was indeed glued together with super glue, you’ll probably find it won’t put up much of a fight.

Here are some more tips and tricks for working with super glue.

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