Glue sticks are often associated with school-aged children, but they are becoming increasingly popular among adult crafters because of their versatility and new formulations that maintain the integrity of the projects that they are used for. The convenient twist tube and push up containers that house glue sticks are also much easier to use by those that have limited dexterity in their hands and lack the ability to squeeze ordinary tubes of glue. And as long as the user remembers to place the cap back on the glue stick after every use, it will never dry out.
Henkel AG & Company was the first company to design and introduce the glue stick. The German company is present in over one hundred countries and specializes in personal care items, household items and adhesives. Henkel began selling glue sticks in 1969 under the name Pritt Stick, which was prototyped after a tube of lipstick with the intentions of making the application of glue cleaner and easier.
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The manufacturing of glue sticks is a process that has changed over the years thanks to the introduction of high-tech, computerized machinery. What was once accomplished by human labor is now almost completely automated. When glue sticks are manufactured in the factory the adhesive recipe is first mixed in large vats. Although the recipe will vary depending on the company that is producing the glue sticks, the recipe is usually non-toxic. Once mixed, the glue is drawn into a filling reservoir which drops a perfectly measured amount of the mix into each and every plastic tube that is neatly aligned on the conveyor belt. During this time the glue is extremely hot, so the filled tubes, usually 10, 20 and 40 gram volumes, move on to a cooling station where they are capped by a series of robotic arms. The glue sticks are once again fed into a second cooling chamber which assures that the liquidized glue cools into a solid form inside the tube, finalizing the production process and rendering the glue sticks ready for retail.
Glue sticks are handy for a wide variety of projects, and are often sold in washable varieties, as well as permanent types which can be used for embellishing clothing and other fabrics. Also, acid-free glue sticks are becoming quite popular amongst the scrapbooking community because they do not compromise the present and future quality of photographs.
Glue sticks are often manufactured with safety in mind. Made of materials that are non-toxic and free of solvents and other dangerous chemicals, glue sticks are an ideal medium for use pre-schools and grade schools. And because they are not overly sticky or runny, glue sticks are virtually mess free, requiring minimal cleanup.
Although the common school glue glue sticks are non-toxic, those that are manufactured for use on clothing and other heavy duty projects may not be. It is important to check the product packaging before assuming that a particular brand of glue stick is safe for children. Because the caps that seal the glue sticks can pose a choking hazard to young children, it is recommended that the use of glue sticks be restricted to children over the age of three.