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Super Glue CA accelerator substitute

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Forum topic by Steamboat_Willie posted 02-19-2018 09:48 PM 1632 views 1 time favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Steamboat_Willie

35 posts in 1977 days


02-19-2018 09:48 PM

I have been using the Titebond “Instant Bond” brand CA glue in gel form in my wood shop and find that it very much has its place for certain gluing tasks. Its quick bonding characteristics can be very helpful. However I’ve been searching for a cost-effective substitute CA accelerator that would be cheaper than using their $15 Titebond brand accelerator product in the aerosol can. A search on the internet says that baking soda, or chlorine would work for accelerating the CA. Unfortunately neither has worked for me with this brand CA product. I also called Titebond and was told by a tech support person who was knowledgeable with the chemistry of their brand-name accelerator product that “heptane” is the magic curing acceleration ingredient in the aerosol product. (listed on the product’s MSDS) So I found and purchased a pint of liquid heptane which is sold as Bestine brand rubber cement thinner. Again, NG. Didn’t work for accelerating the Titebond CA glue. Does anyone have any experience with using a cheaper substitute as a CA accelerator that works? Or am I doing something wrong? Thanks.
Ed


23 replies so far

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2657 posts in 2947 days


#1 posted 02-20-2018 01:08 PM

What has worked for many years is a spray of water from a mister. It is water that accelerates it. Even blowing on it helps. The moisture of your breath does it. I used it a lot when I was building model airplanes and never paid for an accelerator.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED https://craftingcouple.com/

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CharlesNeil

2410 posts in 3895 days


#2 posted 02-20-2018 01:44 PM

+1 on water mist, its also why it works on damp wood .

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Jeff

439 posts in 3219 days


#3 posted 02-20-2018 02:11 PM

I question the knowledgeability of the Titebond rep if he thinks heptane is an accelerant. Solvent, but not accelerant. Like the above two posters, it’s water that reacts with the active ingredient.

View Ted78's profile

Ted78

386 posts in 2025 days


#4 posted 02-20-2018 02:46 PM

N,N-Dimethyl-p-toluidine I think the name of the stuff in CA accelerant. Looks like just a little bit in what is otherwise acetone. Don’t know if that helps you but that’s what is in the commercial accelerants.
Also any brand of CA accelerant I’m sure would work with any brand of CA glue I don’t see any reason to match the two if one if priced better or has a better applicator, or comes in more convenient sized packaging etc.

-- Ted

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Steamboat_Willie

35 posts in 1977 days


#5 posted 02-20-2018 03:44 PM

Thanx for the replies & suggestions. I’ll try lightly applying a small mist of water/moisture on one of the pieces of material to be bonded together and see what happens. Will also try the same with acetone.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

2050 posts in 1412 days


#6 posted 02-20-2018 04:39 PM

I got curious so did a few quick google searches. Seems odd that many of the CA activators have acetone in them but I’ve also seen acetone recommended for removing super glue from surfaces. I suspect that the acetone is just a solvent for whatever the real accelerant is and may be used because it evaporates quickly. Toluidine (or something like that) seems to be a ingredient in several activators MSDSs but in small ratios so that might be the actual accelerant. Also, most CA adhesives that I have used recommend a clean, dry surface so it seems like water would not be the best choice. I will be interested to hear whether you have success with either one.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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clin

852 posts in 1021 days


#7 posted 02-20-2018 07:01 PM

Another vote for making sure the surfaces have moisture in them. This won’t necessarily make it kick as fast as an accelerator, but moisture is needed for it to set. There’s a reason it glues your fingers together so easily.


I got curious so did a few quick google searches. Seems odd that many of the CA activators have acetone in them but I ve also seen acetone recommended for removing super glue from surfaces. I suspect that the acetone is just a solvent for whatever the real accelerant is and may be used because it evaporates quickly. Toluidine (or something like that) seems to be a ingredient in several activators MSDSs but in small ratios so that might be the actual accelerant. Also, most CA adhesives that I have used recommend a clean, dry surface so it seems like water would not be the best choice. I will be interested to hear whether you have success with either one.

- Lazyman

I’m no chemist, but I think Acetone is a form of alcohol and alcohols blend well with water and absorb water easily. Given that Acetone will dissolve CA, it could be the acetone acts as a carrier to pull water molecules into the CA.

Makes me wonder if things like rubbing alcohol, which has a lot of water in it would work. Or heck, just some cheap bourbon might work. I think I might need to do some experimenting.

-- Clin

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Loren

10476 posts in 3673 days


#8 posted 02-20-2018 07:05 PM

Cyanoacrylate cures with absence of oxygen.
The water or other sprays may displace the o2.

Dunno. Spraying with Bloxygen might work.

View torus's profile

torus

99 posts in 438 days


#9 posted 02-20-2018 07:25 PM



...
I m no chemist, but I think Acetone is a form of alcohol
...
- clin

C-OH – alcohol
C=O – acetone

Two very different types of chemicals.
Do not drink nail polish remover (acetone)!
Do drink burbone (alcohol), but do not drive ;)

-- "It's getting better..." - put this on my RIP stone!

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Lazyman

2050 posts in 1412 days


#10 posted 02-20-2018 08:18 PM

A little more research…
Wikipedia:
In general, cyanoacrylate is an acrylic resin that rapidly polymerises in the presence of water (specifically hydroxide ions), forming long, strong chains, joining the bonded surfaces together. Because the presence of moisture causes the glue to set, exposure to normal levels of humidity in the air causes a thin skin to start to form within seconds, which very greatly slows the reaction. Because of this cyanoacrylate is applied thinly, to ensure that the reaction proceeds rapidly for bonding

So simply breathing on it may be as effective as anything. Perhaps simply wiping the opposite side to be bonded with a barely damp rag or just run a humidifier in the shop when using it would work?

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View jonah's profile

jonah

1727 posts in 3323 days


#11 posted 02-20-2018 08:41 PM

For what it’s worth, the heptane-based accelerators last quite a long time. You only need a tiny bit for most gluing operations, so a can lasts seemingly forever unless you’re super gluing every day. I’ve had the same can for ~4 years, for example, and it’s still a third full. I don’t mind paying $12 every four or five years.

View clin's profile

clin

852 posts in 1021 days


#12 posted 02-20-2018 08:55 PM


...
I m no chemist, but I think Acetone is a form of alcohol
...
- clin

C-OH – alcohol
C=O – acetone

Two very different types of chemicals.
Do not drink nail polish remover (acetone)!
Do drink burbone (alcohol), but do not drive ;)

- torus

Plenty of alcohols we shouldn’t drink either! But, I got it, acetone is not a form of alcohol. Thanks for the clarification.

But it still “mixes” with water. So still wondering if it can aide in curing CA because of this.

The one CA accelerator I’ve used was sort of oily, though it dried without leaving a residue. No idea what it was.

-- Clin

View Rich's profile

Rich

2979 posts in 614 days


#13 posted 02-21-2018 05:30 AM

I just spent some time in the shop playing around with some of these ideas. It wasn’t my intent to do an in depth analysis of how they affected the cure rate. CA accelerator spray works in seconds — literally — and so I wanted to see if any of the ideas presented could come close. Spoiler alert… they didn’t.

Water, acetone, bloxygen, breathing (lol)... Nope, sorry. While some of these may affect the cure rate, none even came close to the spray accelerator. Run a bead of glue on one surface, spray the other with accelerator, put them together and within literally seconds, it’s rock solid. Also, if you run a bead of glue and spray it directly, you can watch the phase change. Within seconds, the surface is hard, yet there is some yield to pressure. That yield only lasts maybe a minute though before the entire mass is hard. None of the things I tested came even close.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

999 posts in 187 days


#14 posted 02-21-2018 03:57 PM

Rich – I made a 1/4 scale Piper J3 Cub a few years ago and used CA glue for the very first time
on balsa wood….. I found myself way out of my comfort zone of regular glue and straight pins.
upon applying CA glue to a joint then a puff of the commercial accelerator, I was very surprised
at the heat and smoke that resulted from that little joint…... I did not trust it – thinking my plane
would fall apart before I even got the fabric on the frame.
I was VERY impressed with the strength of the joints and also the accelerator. Knowing how it works,
and how cheap it is, I would not experiment with other methods of curing agents and stick with
the proven commercially designed CA specific accelerators. ALSO – keep a bottle of “Un-Cure” debonder
close by (just in case you get something stuck to something that you don’t want it stuck to).
I fully agree with your findings.

and, X2 with Jonah: “accelerators last quite a long time. You only need a tiny bit for most gluing operations,
so a can lasts seemingly forever”.

-- Graduated Valedictorian from the University of HardKnocks --

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Rich

2979 posts in 614 days


#15 posted 02-21-2018 04:31 PM


I was VERY impressed with the strength of the joints and also the accelerator. Knowing how it works,
and how cheap it is, I would not experiment with other methods of curing agents and stick with
the proven commercial types. ALSO – keep a bottle of “Un-Cure” debonder close by
(just in case you get something stuck to something that you don t want it stuck to).
I fully agree with your findings.

- John Smith

I agree about sticking with the commercial product, John. For the record, when I checked this morning, all of the samples were rock solid, so while the water, etc didn’t perform as well as the spray, they didn’t inhibit final curing.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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