Rubber cement is a versatile adhesive made from latex polymers mixed in acetone or other solvents. Paul Van Cleef invented the adhesive for use in the Van Cleef Brothers factory in Chicago, Illinois in the early 1900s.
Most brands available for purchase today have the same basic formula, although many manufacturers made slight adjustments after learning that the benzene in rubber cement could be linked to the development of certain cancers. Today, n-hexane and n-heptane are commonly used as less toxic alternatives to benzene.
Rubber cement is inexpensive and easy to use. A permanent bond can be created by applying it to both the top and bottom surfaces, while a re-positionable bond is created by applying the adhesive to only one surface. In addition, excess adhesive can be peeled or rubbed off without wrinkling or damaging the paper or other items being glued together. This makes it the perfect choice for card making and collage crafts.
At one time, rubber cement was commonly used in scrapbooking. However, today’s crafters have mostly abandoned this practice due to concerns that the acidity of the adhesive may damage photos and memorabilia. If you are interested in creating a scrapbook, use an acid-free archival quality glue stick instead.
Rubber cement may stain some fabrics and upholstery. However, you can remove these stains by sponging the spot with a small amount of dry cleaning solvent followed by a mixture of lukewarm water and a mild pH balanced detergent. Flush the area with clean water and allow to air dry.
As a safety precaution, rubber cement should always be used in a well-ventilated area. Avoid contact with open flames and never allow children to use it without adult supervision. If the glue accidentally comes in contact with your eyes, flush with water for at least 15 minutes. If you suspect the chemical has been swallowed, call Poison Control immediately. Do not attempt to induce vomiting without first seeking medical advice.
In recent years, teenagers have discovered that rubber cement has the potential for abuse as an inhalant. When the fumes are inhaled on a regular basis, they produce effects that are similar to the result of alcohol consumption. However, the effects of huffing or sniffing this glue can include brain damage, cardiac arrest, dizziness, hallucinations, and serious heart or lung problems. Rubber cement also contains a variety of poisonous ingredients, including paradichlorobenzene, trichloroethane, acetone, heptane, and isopropyl alcohol.