This is the first part in what will hopefully be a two or three, or even four, part series on Hide Glue. Very few people are making really high quality glue these days. The plan is to provide a solid introduction with practical steps to making high quality glue, and to cover the basics of using it. Following posts will have to wait for time, energy and pictures. You can subscribe on the right to receive notification of new posts via email so you don’t have to stay glued to your screen.
Collagen Glue, aka hide glue or animal glue, is made from the parts of animal bodies which contain large amounts of collagen. Collagen is abundant in animal bodies, but certain parts are highly concentrated sources of relatively pure collagen of the type useful for making glue. Commonly used glue materials are skin (including fish skins), sinews (the fibers which connect bones to muscles) and antler. Fish air bladders have been used to make an especially strong glue. The common practice of using skin scraps to make glue has given us the term Hide Glue, which is generally used for all collagen glues regardless of the raw material used to produce it. The materials are cooked long and slow to dissolve the collagen, followed by drying the resulting gelatin which is then reconstituted in water as needed.
There is a misunderstanding that glue is made from hooves. The horny outer covering of hooves does not contain useful collagen. Hoof sheaths and horns are more physiologically related to hair and are primarily composed of keratin which does not go into solution when cooked in water. The bones and ligaments inside the hoof do contain a lot of collagen and have commonly been used to by glue boilers to make glue and neatsfoot oil. Making glue from the whole lower legs is not generally a good choice for home producers due to contamination from fats and other unwanted substances. If you try to make glue from the hoof sheath itself, it won’t work. I know, I’ve tried. Instead, I recommend extracting some of the glue making parts from the lower legs and feet and then using just those, but that is for another post. (more…)