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Water-Based Adhesives in Winter

Water-Based Adhesives in Winter: Myths & Truths

Water-based adhesives are adhesives that use water as the carrier. There’s a lot of myths out there about these adhesives, so read on to find out what’s fact and what’s fiction! 

  1. Water-based adhesives can freeze
    • True. Because these adhesives use water as their base, they can freeze in cold temperatures.
  2. Water-based adhesives are good for you, and you can inhale them with impunity
    • False. Just because water-based adhesives don’t contain solvents, doesn’t mean they’re not harmful. They still can be harmful when atomized.
  3. Once frozen, water-based adhesives are unusable, and cannot be warmed up
    • True. In most cases, once a water-based adhesive freezes, its properties are changed and will not go back to normal. Frozen adhesive increases viscosity, which can cause stringing and poor machining, as well as slow down the flow of adhesive.
  4. There’s no need for ventilation when using water-based adhesives
    • False. They actually decrease the air quality, as the molecules hang around in the air and can clog up vents.
  5. Water-based adhesives cannot be used in the winter
    • False. As long as the adhesive is shipped and stored indoors at temperatures above 55°F, the adhesive is safe to use.
  6. Water-based adhesives are always slow to set
    • Depends. Water-based adhesives rely on evaporation to set, so most set slower than other types of adhesives, although there are some sprayable water-based adhesives that set as quick as solvent-based adhesives.

How can you tell if a water-based adhesive has been frozen? If the outside of the container feels very cold, then it is likely that the adhesive has frozen. Lumps or crystals in the adhesive are signs that the adhesive has been frozen, and the adhesive should not be used. If the adhesive is completely frozen, the adhesive will be solid.

To ensure consistency of set times, cure times and overall performance of water-based adhesives in the winter, ensure that your substrates and adhesives are kept indoors. Most adhesives perform optimally at room temperature (around 70°F), so keep your adhesives and equipment indoors for optimal results. When shipping water-based adhesives, ship the adhesive as early as possible in the week, to reduce the likelihood of it sitting in a truck for prolonged periods of time. If the adhesive comes in at 55°F or higher, it should be safe to use.

Want to learn more about water-based adhesives, or how cold weather impacts other types of adhesives? Contact us – as your adhesive & tape ally, we will happily answer any questions you may have!