Cyanoacrylate or super glue is the fastest drying commercially available adhesive. It has incredible setting times of just 30 seconds and sometimes less! But what if we told you there is a way to enhance the polymerization and get the super glue to set instantly!
The trick is to mix the baking soda with the super glue. This mix is known to provide a faster setting and curing time but also enhance the strength of the bond. Is this really true, and what actually happens when you mix these two substances?
Read on to find out more about cyanoacrylate and baking soda, what makes them react the way they do, and should you try this at home.
What Happens When You Mix Cyanoacrylate And Baking Soda
So, mixing baking soda and super glue is supposed to make the super glue bond better in every way. The baking soda is supposed to be an accelerator that makes the super glue bond stronger.
You would usually put a few super glue drops on a part that needs to be bonded. Then, a pinch of baking soda is applied over the liquid super glue. With small amounts of super glue, the reaction usually happens instantly and the glue is ‘cured’ in seconds.
You are then left with a rock-hard white bond that is supposedly has a higher tensile strength than cyanoacrylate alone.
This mix is often used for filling gaps and cracks. You would put baking soda in the gap or a crack that needs to be filled, and then some super glue is applied over it.
This does work very well and is often used as a cheap and quick way to fix cracked plastic parts and to give the structure more strength and resistance.
The now cured cyanoacrylate and baking soda bond can be easily painted and sanded, something you cannot do so well without the baking soda. Baking soda gives the bond a certain texture that makes it easy to sand and paint on.
To see the process of mixing baking soda and super glue in action, check out this video:
Why Does This Happen
This is a very good question, and to get an answer to it, we need to look at the way super glue or cyanoacrylate dries.
Super glue is unique because of its quick-drying properties. It dries when exposed to moisture, while most of the other adhesives do so when exposed to hot and dry air.
The super glue is designed to set under normal moisture conditions in about 30 seconds on average and can take up to a full day to fully cure.
Sodium bicarbonate starts the polymerization of the cyanoacrylate adhesive instantly, and because of an exothermic reaction, the glue sets almost instantly.
The exothermic or heat-producing reaction eradicates heat and makes the water evaporate, making the moisture needed for quick polymerization.
This is why super glue seems to set instantly and why there is a visible reaction in terms of fumes and vapors when it’s mixed with sodium bicarbonate.
These vapors and fumes that are emitted when the reaction happens are highly toxic and are much more dangerous than the usual fumes produced from cyanoacrylate alone.
As far as the strength of the bond is concerned, there is no evidence that baking soda makes the bond stronger when mixed with super glue.
The tensile strength of super glue is extremely high on its own, and it’s highly unlikely that baking soda adds any strength to the bonds when mixed with cyanoacrylate.
Should You Mix Baking Soda & Super Glue At Home
Baking soda and super make sense for some applications and can be successfully used.
This combination is, as we previously mentioned, great for filling gaps and cracks that you couldn’t normally fill with the runny super glue.
Baking soda adds solidity to the gap, and the super glue provides the actual strength. The added bonus is the quicker drying time than usual.
People usually only focus and talk about the fast-setting result that you get from mixing the two substances but don’t mention the extremely dangerous vapors that this mixture produces.
As we previously mentioned, the exothermic reaction is responsible for these fumes and not only produces heat but is dangerous for health when inhaled.
These fumes are much more hazardous for health than the usual super glue vapors. Because of that, we don’t recommend mixing baking soda and super glue on your own at all.
If you really need to do it, using protective equipment and working outdoors is highly recommended.
The alternative that is much safer and produces better results is using an accelerator or activator for CA glue. These spray activators enhance and speed up the polymerization of the super glue and make it cure instantly!
The results are usually quicker than with baking soda and don’t produce harmful fumes.
A model that we recommend and the one we had the most success with is the Stick Fast Aerosol Activator. This spray works wonders on super glue and will make any amount of super glue magically cure!
Baking soda and super glue are an interesting mix that produces magical but potentially dangerous results.
There are safer and better alternatives for both fast-drying glue time and filling gaps.
Going for an accelerator is our recommendation if you’re in pursuit of instant drying time and strong bonds.