Can You Eat Glue?

While glue might not be the ideal choice of food you’d want to dig into, there’s no denying that some people still eat it. Sometimes children like eating non-food items such as glue out of sheer curiosity.

At the same time, you’ll find many teenagers and adults who happily wolf down glue sticks. Our article isn’t about whether you should eat glue or not; it’s about the hazard or health factors of different types of glue.

So, if you have the question “Can you eat glue?” circling in your head for a while now, you’re going to find the answer right here!

We’ll also bust some myths about glue- how it’s going to leave your guts in a knot and preclude you from speaking entirely! It’s definitely not the case, but it will cause some digestion problems along the way that you might want to look out for.

Depending on how much you consume, anything from a yucky feeling in your mouth to serious asphyxiations can happen. Keep on reading!

Is Glue Edible?

Be it glue sticks, white glue, or carpenter’s glue, no form of glue is meant for eating- unless it’s meat glue in your favorite shrimp noodles and cutlets. And yet, you’ll find quite a number of people, especially children, eating glue like it’s their favorite syrup.

1. The Consequences of Swallowing Glue

Why do people eat glue is a whole not her topic. But, some types of glue are, yes, edible, and they can leave your digestive system without a spot. It all comes down to what quantity we are talking about here.

For example, if your kid gobbled up some Elmer’s glue, you don’t have to worry about lasting gastrointestinal damage, to begin with. In fact, anyone who likes to eat Elmer’s glue occasionally is just as healthy as any other person!

2. The Taste of Glue

However, if you’re wondering what glue tastes like, the answer would be a waxy pool-water flavor with a bland yet distinct aftertaste. Then again, there are more types of glue that we can name in one breath, and each supposedly tastes different than the last.

Before that prompts you to try a hot glue stick, it’s probably best if we stick to normal food items for now. If it’s up to us, we will choose those chocolate lollies over glue sticks any time!

3. Is PVA Glue Safe for Skin Contact?

When it comes to PVA glue, its petroleum polymer is a non-toxic ingredient that goes only as far as upsetting your stomach upon ingestion. You’ll notice this composition in the popular Elmer’s white glue, a life-saving household essential to school supply.

4. Hazards of Hot Glue Sticks

Apart from sealing envelopes in an old-fashioned way, hot glue sticks are your way to DIY wax art at its finest! They sure have a rich, buildable texture that we love. But how safe is hot glue when swallowed? Let’s find out!

Two common ingredients of hot glue sticks are ethylene-methyl acrylate (EMA) and ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). However scary the names sound, we assure you- both of these are water-soluble and not hazardous at all when ingested.

So far, we feel like we have only been assuring you how “safe” glue is. Well, now let’s hear about some ugly cases of glue ingestion- especially the infamous super glue.

What Happens When People Eat Super Glue?

Before you’re staging a grand plan to prank your sibling with superglue, let us tell you- it’s not worth it. Superglue, as the name suggests and as you’ve seen already, is a powerful adhesive that practically binds anything together.

Eat Super Glue

Now, we understand if you’re tempted to try it on your sibling as a prank, but steer clear from super glue. And here’s why.

No Harm Done!

The outcomes of swallowing super glue intentionally or unintentionally can play out in three ways. One, your esophagus is naturally well-lubricated, and the fresh glue slides down without any serious interaction.

Swallowing Super Glue: Risks of Asphyxia

It can irritate your mucous membranes, considering how quickly it polymerizes in moist environments such as our esophagus tube. However, in many unfortunate cases, super glue lodges right inside your trachea- better known as the windpipe. It connects the larynx, eventually entering your lungs.

What happens after that is simple- your passage of air is compromised, and you can feel anything between breathing discomforts to full-on choking or, in medical terms, “asphyxiation.”

Unless you want to play Russian Roulette with a ten-dollar tube of superglue, tasting this oddity just for the thrill of it is extremely dangerous.

Is Super Glue Toxic?

The most common type of super glue that we find in superstores is generally low in toxicity. However, there are different brands constantly at the competition of launching more effective products than the other.

Cyanoacrylates, a fast polymerization monomer, is the key ingredient of super glue. It is present in various mixtures and strengths in these glues and thus has varying toxicity in different products.

Super Glue Facts

The good news is- super glue cannot enter your bloodstream because of its polymer form. For that, it has to cross cell membranes, which is impossible for its chemical composition.

In short, when applied to the skin directly, super glue is non-toxic. You might want to keep an eye out for super glue vapor, though. Since it rapidly reacts to the applied surfaces, you can find yourself holding on for dear life from squandering glue in all the wrong places!

The Truth about Xanthan Gum & Elmer’s Glue

One of the things we didn’t know about glue before writing this article is that you can find it in the places you least expect! For example, salad dressing, the once unsuspecting and yummy mix of delectable herbs, oils, and vinegar, contains xanthan glue.

Xanthan Gum in Frozen Foods!

It’s a type of glue that you can find in not only salad dressing but also baked goods, dairy, frozen food, and ready-to-eat meat products.
Although xanthan gum is quite popular in the frozen food industry as a stabilizing agent, we were struck dumb when we found out that wallpaper glue has the same xanthan gum in generous amounts!

Scientific Facts About Xanthan Gum

While too much xanthan gum causes digestive problems, respiratory issues don’t fall far behind. The outcome is supposedly less disastrous than super glue. Although, we strongly encourage you to stay away from both. What can we say- better safe than sorry!

Moving on, according to the International mac ology journal published in 2009, xanthan gum contains cancer-fighting attributes. While it procured the said results in mice, if xanthan gum will do the same for a human being is still up for debate.

Xanthan Gum: Good News for the Diabetics!

This synthetic gum is a popular food additive and safe for most of its consumers up until a certain point. One thing you must remember is that anything exceeding 15 grams of xanthan gum a day can cause flatulence and digestive issues.

Looking on the bright side, xanthan gum has proved to decrease blood sugar levels in humans and help elders with dysphagia swallow food better.

Is Meat Glue Safe for Ingestion?

Meat glue is made of transglutaminase, an enzyme that effectively binds proteins by forming covalent bonds. The function of this glue is not that different from other types of glue.

For example, it polymerizes protein in an insoluble, cross-linked formation. Meat glue is widely used in tofu, skim powder milk, and even chicken nuggets!

Additionally, meat glue binds your favorite frozen food such as hot dogs and sausages. Not to mention, meat glue is incredibly safe for ingestion. It’s also an important factor that makes fish balls and nuggets so appetizing!

Surprisingly, you can find meat glue in cheese and yogurt as well because it thickens dairy products by retaining their water levels.

Can You Eat Wood Glue and Animal Glue?

Animal Glue

Turns out, animal glue is not actually made out of animal skin anymore. While the use of animal glue dates back to 2000 BC, modern-day hide glue is a much simpler composition of recycled gelatin! Other than that, you’ll also find glycerin, Epsom salt, and corn sugar.

The tackiness of animal glue comes from its two key proteins- chon drink and gluten. You can get animal glue or hide glue in any craft store or repair shop, considering its many applications. And in case you do want to find out how to hide glue tastes, giving it a shot will not wind you up dead.

Moving on, there is another glue that’s also familiar to gelatin. Wood glue, as we know it, is non-toxic and causes no respiratory problems compared to super glue. In fact, whisking flour and water will get you homemade wood glue, and it is edible all the way!

Epoxy glue is a stronger version of wood glue and is food-safe when cured. An epoxy resin glue is also non-toxic and poses no serious threat if inhaled or ingested.

Final Words

Parents of hyperactive preschoolers can now have some peace of mind knowing that swallowing Elmer’s glue hardly leads to anything catastrophic.

Similarly, eating glue one time just because you’re curious is fine. But you cannot cross out the digestive problems and risks of respiratory damage entirely. However, if you have OCD, pica, or schizophrenia, eating non-food items can go off the charts and is extremely dangerous for you.

We hope that you found your answer to the question, “can you eat glue?”!
Eat and drink responsibly!



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