Determine the Effect of Different Temperatures on the Adhesion of Polyvinyl Acetate Glue

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Author: Janice VanCleave

What You Need to Know

Polyvinyl acetate is a type of polymer called thermoplastic, which means it can be melted and reformed over and over. Adhesion is the bonding force between unlike particles.

How Does Adhesion Work?

Adhesion occurs when two different kinds of molecules link together. An adhesive, such as liquid white glue, is basically a mixture of the polymer "polyvinyl acetate" and water. When applied between two surfaces, the water in the glue evaporates and the polyvinyl acetate molecules bond to one another and to the surfaces the glue touches.

How Does Adhesion Work?

What Does This Have to Do with How Temperatures Affect Adhesion of Polyvinyl Acetate Glue?

When polyvinyl acetate is dry, it is a leathery, colorless, thermoplastic material. This type of glue works best in a narrow temperature range of 65°F (18°C) to 72°F (22°C). But what happens to the adhesive properties of dried glue if it is frozen?

Fun Fact

The polymer casein, which comes from milk, is used in adhesives, paints, and even plastics. You can make casein glue by mixing 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of vinegar with 7 tablespoons (105 mL) of nonfat or skim milk. The white clumps that form are called curds, and the liquid is called whey. The curds are made of the polymer casein. Separate the curds and the whey and the curds can be used to glue paper together. How well does your homemade glue work compared to other glues?

Real-Life Science Challenge

Inventors are being challenged to create an adhesive that can be activated by human body fluids, such as blood or saliva, or by an outside source, such as light or radiation. The ideal adhesive would hold tissues together long enough for them to grow together, then lose its strength and be absorbed by the body.


Now, start experimenting with how different temperatures affect the adhesive properties of polyvinyl acetate glue.


  • Design a way to measure how adhesive the glue is.
  • Test one brand of glue on different types of surfaces.
  • Any white school glue can be used.
  • Try using a refrigerator and a freezer to lower the glue's temperature.
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