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.
4 thoughts on “What to do with Styrofoam? Turn it into glue…”
Useless. These “adhesives” provides no strength and dissolve with acetone. More, both liquids are bad for the wenvironment in their production and usage. Recycle eos, stop wasting more chemicals!
Good work, I have been doing some work to spread what i have found for resuse of PS/EPS using d-limonene an essential oil from cirtrus peels. although it also works with lavendar oil if thats more available. pleaase check out my instructable and let me know if you have any questions. https://www.instructables.com/Recycling-Styrofoam-EPS-Into-Castable-Styrene-Plas/
A bit of acetone on top will seal the air. So the stuff can be kept in a jar longer. I stir it with a drill to make the blob into a less viscous liquid.
Some people add quick drying varnish and a bit of silicone to make the cured stuff less brittle.
I go in ino a bunch of bits on this. the acetone kinda gets trapped and causes the goop to get kinda foamy again. but the lavender oil and or lemon oil (d-limonene do great jobs of goopifying the Styrofoam ) here is some of my open sourced info on it. https://www.instructables.com/Recycling-Styrofoam-EPS-Into-Castable-Styrene-Plas/