How to Make Homemade Glue Sticks

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Homemade glue sticks can be made from cornstarch and water.
Homemade glue sticks can be made from cornstarch and water. (Image: Photo by Patrick W. (License: Creative Commons Attribution))

For many craft ideas, adhesives are necessary to connect pieces of construction paper or other materials to create a finished product. Glue sticks work for most craft projects and are generally inexpensive, but some commercial pastes can have harmful materials that might be toxic if ingested. Creating a homemade version of paste will provide the youngest members of the family with a useful craft tool that won't put their health at risk.

Things You'll Need

  • Empty glue stick containers
  • Warm-to-hot water
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Paper towels
  • 5 tbs. cornstarch
  • 5 cups water
  • Saucepan
  • Stove range

Prepare your old glue stick containers by running them through a hot water bath in your sink. This will melt off dried-on pieces of glue and clean them for their next batch of glue. Make sure to screw the glue stick applicator all the way down, revealing more glue stick interior to be cleaned. When you have finished washing out the glue stick interior, scrub away any more dried glue pieces with the pipe cleaner, then rinse again. Shake out as much excess water as possible, then dry the glue stick interior by pushing a paper towel into the glue stick using the pipe cleaner. Set these empty glue sticks aside to dry completely.

Mix both the cornstarch and water in a saucepan, stirring the solution until the cornstarch has completely dissolved into the water. Place the saucepan on a stove and turn the heat on to high. Let the saucepan sit until the solution inside begins to boil. Reduce the heat to below medium, and stir the mixture vigorously for 3 to 5 minutes. Let the solution cool inside of the saucepan for another 10 to 15 minutes. The mixture should thicken as the solution is allowed to cool.

Remove the saucepan from all heat, and let the mixture sit another 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally as the mixture continues to thicken. When the solution has turned into a thick sludge, fill the solution into the empty glue sticks. Let the glue sticks sit for 6 to 8 hours before use.

Tips & Warnings

  • Add a few drops food coloring to your homemade paste to create colored glue. If your glue's consistency does not come out right, try another batch with more cornstarch and less water.

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