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What makes super glue so super?

How do I unstick my fingers?

Let's say you're repairing some broken pottery and before you can say "Whoops," you've glued your index finger to your thumb! The recommended first aid treatment for this is:

  1. Soaking hands
    Photos_Alyson/Stonet/Getty Images
    If you do glue your fingers together, you need to soak them in warm water to loosen the glue.
    Scrape off any excess glue. Don't use cloth or tissue -- a chemical reaction between the fabric and glue could potentially cause burns or smoke.
  2. Soak the bonded fingers in a bath of warm, soapy water.
  3. Don't try forcing the fingers apart, or you'll tear the skin.
  4. After soaking, use some kind of dull, rounded utensil to carefully wedge the fingers apart.
  5. If you see no immediate success with this, drop a little acetone (found in nail polish remover) on the area. Again try wedging the digits apart.

At first, the thought of someone getting Super glue on his or her mouth seems pretty outlandish. But, let's face it a lot of us have a bad habit of using our teeth to wrench or twist off particularly stubborn caps. Say you do that with the top of the tube of glue and, presto, you've given an entirely new meaning to the phrase "zip it." In order to unzip those lips, your options on what to do are a little more limited:

  • Since you're dealing with an area on the face, do not use acetone.
  • Using a wide coffee cup or bowl, immerse your mouth in hot water.
  • You will also want to dampen the bonded skin from the inside of your mouth as much as possible.
  • Once you sense a loosening of the grip, use a dull, rounded utensil to wedge your mouth open. Be careful not to force it, or you will tear the skin.

If you think cyanoacrylate's ability to repair broken knick-knacks is super, wait until you hear about its other tricks. An interesting application is the use of cyanoacrylate to close wounds in place of stitches. Researchers found that by changing the type of alcohol in super glue, from ethyl or methyl alcohol to butyl or octyl, the compound becomes less toxic to tissue. Physicians aren't the only health care providers using cyanacrylate as a pharmacological fixative for their patients. Veterinarians use it too.