Styrofoam, aka EPS, Expanded Polystyrene, is hard for me to get rid of. It’s harmful in the environment so I don’t like to put it in the trash, and I don’t have anywhere to recycle it. So, it accumulates. As usual, the internet comes to the rescue – it’s possible to turn styrofoam into glue by dissolving it in either acetone or orange oil! Of course I had to try it…
Putting styrofoam into acetone is dramatic – a huge chunk melts away to nothing in seconds. Putting styrofoam into orange oil is less dramatic, but I could still see the styrofoam disappear quite quickly.
About 4 tablespoons of acetone dissolved about 45 grams of styrofoam. About 3 tablespoons of orange oil dissolved about 50 grams of styrofoam. Both methods yielded about 4 tablespoons of adhesive.
It’s better to work outside due to fumes; also, acetone is a fire hazard.
(I tried nail polish remover, but it didn’t work. Pure acetone is what is needed)
Acetone is inexpensive and readily available.
Safer to use than acetone
Gives a strong orange scent to the project, which takes many days to fade.
Pure orange oil is quite a bit more expensive and may be harder to find.
Both these adhesives are thready, like working with a hot glue gun. Drips are easy to clean up using acetone or orange oil on a paper towel.
Smell – Orange oil scent is strong at first. It took about 2 weeks to completely fade. Acetone is very pungent, but the smell fades almost immediately.
Expense – orange oil makes a more expensive glue, although since the styrofoam is essentially free the over-all cost isn’t much more than buying a good-quality adhesive. Acetone very inexpensive.
Orange oil takes a long time to fully dry – it stays tacky for a couple of days. The glue made from acetone is more brittle, adheres less well to smooth surfaces.
Despite being tightly sealed, both types of glue hardened in their container within a few days; when I do this again I will make sure to use all the glue immediately.
I was very satisfied with this experiment! Glad to know that there is another easy way to make styrofoam into something useful.