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Rubber Cement Uses

Rubber Cement Uses

It was fun to make scrapbooks and crafts in art class during school days. We could officially get our hands sticky and dirty with the glue, which was made from natural sources. But now, instead of glue, rubber cement is commonly used in every household as it has a better utility value. To know more about this compound, read this HomeQuicks article.
Geeta Dhavale
Last Updated: May 21, 2018
Keep in Mind

In case of rubber cement poisoning, wash your eyes, nose, mouth, and skin with clean and cold water for around 10 minutes. If a person has swallowed the adhesive, immediately give him/her water or milk to drink before any symptoms like vomiting or spasms develop. In extreme situations, contact your family doctor.

Adhesives have been used since ancient times, and have evolved subsequently taking different forms. Egyptian carvings and fibers in old fabrics confirm the existence of glue in those days. Flour paste, boiled rice, and a mixture of egg whites and gold leaves were some of the ingredients used for gluing. But with advanced chemical research, natural adhesives were replaced by synthetic ones such as rubber cement, which undergoes various chemical processes. This helps the cement to form a stronger bond, and makes it more corrosion-resistant.
What is Rubber Cement?
It is an adhesive made from elastic polymers that are mixed in a solvent, such as acetone or hexane, and acquire a form of an opaque liquid. It is a drying adhesive, as the solvents evaporate after some time, leaving behind particles that form a strong flexible bond. Rubber cement is soft on the surface, unless it is mixed with strong solvents like acetone, which causes irreparable damage to polished surfaces and few types of plastics. A solvent can be a liquid, solid, or gaseous substance, which can dissolve other similar substances, forming a new solution that is soluble at a specific temperature. These solvents are useful in making nail polish removers, paint thinners, glues, etc.
1. Rubber cement is inexpensive and easily available in the market. It can be used to bind any kind of material, but works well with paper or thin sheets.
2. Its ability to form permanent and repositional bonds distinguishes it from other adhesives. Two materials can be joined permanently by applying cement to both the surfaces.
3. On the other hand, if a temporary bond is required, then only either of the two surfaces need to be applied with this cement. This property can be used while making sticky notes. While making them, equal-sized papers are collected, and on one side the adhesive is applied. After sticking the paper gently, they can be peeled off as and when required.
4. Unlike glue, excess cement can be removed without damaging or wrinkling the sheet of paper.
5. Considering its peculiar qualities, this cement is best suited for card making, photo lamination, collage crafts, etc.
6. You can also use it to fix a tire tube patch on a tube that has been punctured. Firstly, even out the punctured area with sandpaper, and apply a bit of rubber cement on the tube surface, as well as on the patch surface. This helps in imparting greater strength to both materials for sticking to each other. Apply the bottom side of the tire patch on the punctured region.
7. For fixing tire patches, you can also use vulcanized rubber cement, which can be molded by heating it.
8. Another amazing use of this adhesive is in erasable pens, wherein it can be used as a marker. This is possible due to the ability of the adhesive, where it can be removed easily if applied in a single layer. Also, due to the specific composition, it does not spoil the paper in any form after being erased, and hence, it is very useful for activities involving erasable inks and pens.
9. Various types of rubber cement characterized by different formulas are available for numerous purposes and applications. For example, in households, offices, and artwork, non-vulcanized cement is used.
10. This adhesive is made with n-hexane or n-heptane, which is less toxic in nature. On the other hand, the cement used for industrial purposes contains more chemical additives, which forms a tougher and resilient bond; it is needed in tire patching or shoe repairing.
How to Use Rubber Cement
The application of rubber cement is convenient as compared to other greasy glue sticks, which may alter your craft. Following are the steps to use it efficiently.
  • Dry the objects or materials that you intend to join. It is important to know that this cement works effectively with paper or cardboard, but not with wood or metallic materials.
  • Generally, rubber cement is available in a bottle with a brush. Apply it to the material using the brush attached to the bottle cap, which is suspended in the cement.
  • Now, keep the materials aside to dry; it won't take long, as this cement dries quickly. Within a few seconds, your objects will be ready to be joined.
How to Make It
Natural rubber in the latex form is collected from a tree called Hevea brasiliensis, which is abundantly found in Brazil. This latex is processed with high temperature that gives solid rubber. This rubber is cut into small pieces, and is mixed thoroughly with a solvent, such as hexane or heptane, and is kept in containers. For better amalgamation, special rubber mills are used by large-scale rubber cement manufacturers. They also use automated and explosion-proof equipment, as the cement is flammable.
Some materials may get damaged due to the stains of rubber cement. However, these can be removed by following simple steps:
  • Sponge the stained spot with a dry-cleaning solvent.
  • Sponge the spot with lukewarm water and a mild pH-balanced detergent.
  • Sprinkle the spot with clean water, and let it dry.
Though this cement is handy and easy to use, make sure to keep it in a dry and ventilated area. Do not allow children to use it without adult supervision, as it is toxic in nature. Rubber cement is a potential inhalant for substance abuse, and sniffing it regularly can have adverse effects on the brain, heart, and lungs. Use it carefully, be it in fun activities, fixing small household things, or saving your photo memorabilia.