Photo by Richard Schumacher
Cyanoacrylate glue, also known as CA glue or “super glue,” is great for model building as it works on a variety of materials, including many plastics, wood, metal, ceramic, paper, fabric, and rubber. It is an acrylic resin which rapidly sets by chemically changing (polymerizes) when exposed to water. The normal water vapor in the air is sufficient for cyanoacrylate to polymerize. Since there is even more water on your skin, it can glue your fingers even faster.
Unopened bottles of cyanoacrylate have a shelf life of 12-15 months (so check dates and make sure you buy from fresh inventory). Since polymerization is temperature-dependent, and storage below the freezing point of water stops the process, the life of unopened bottles can be extended by storing them in a freezer. You need to allow frozen CA to warm to room temperature, and completely dry off any condensation, before opening. Never store opened bottles in the freezer, they’ll just go bad.
CA can last about 6-12 months once opened, although some opened versions last as little as one month. You can extend the life of your opened cyanoacrylate by storing it in a cool, completely dry place. You must keep the moisture in the air away from the cyanoacrylate. The easiest way I have found to do this is to store the opened CA bottles in a glass mason jar filled with silica gel desiccant packets.
I got this pretty blue glass mason jar at my local Handyman Hardware store. Silica gel desiccant packets come with most electronic items, and new packets can be purchased from camera stores or on Amazon. These 5 gram Dry & Dry brand packets came from Amazon. You only need a few for each mason jar.
A safety note: Cyanoacrylate monomer fumes can irritate your eyes, nose and throat. CA can immediately glue fingers together or eyelids shut. Always handle in a way that does not splash the liquid. Make sure to keep it out of the reach of small children.