How Was Glue Made in Ancient Times?

In ancient times, glue was an essential item for various purposes. It was used for binding materials together, repairing broken items, and even in medical procedures.

But have you ever wondered how glue was made in ancient times? Let’s delve into the history of glue-making.

The Origin of Glue-Making

The art of making glue dates back to ancient civilizations such as Egypt and China. The Egyptians used a mixture of animal hides, bones, and fish skin to make a type of adhesive for their furniture and artifacts. On the other hand, the Chinese used boiled-down soybeans to create a sticky substance that they used for various purposes.

The Glue-Making Process

The process of making glue in ancient times involved several steps. Firstly, the raw materials were collected and processed to extract the adhesive properties. For instance, animal hides were soaked in water for several days to soften them before being boiled in water until they disintegrated.

Once the raw material had been processed, it was mixed with other ingredients such as vinegar or egg whites to improve its adhesive properties. The mixture was then heated until it reached a thick consistency before being left to cool.

The Types of Glue Used

There were different types of glues used in ancient times depending on the materials being bonded together. For instance, animal glues were commonly used for woodworking projects as they provided a strong bond that could withstand heavy loads.

Fish glues were used for delicate items such as glassware or porcelain as they provided a less strong but more flexible bond that would not damage the fragile material.

Plant-based adhesives like rice paste were commonly employed in papermaking industries because it gave paper its tensile strength.


In conclusion, the art of making glue has come a long way since ancient times. Nowadays, we have synthetic adhesives that are stronger and more versatile than their ancient counterparts. However, the early methods of glue-making have paved the way for modern-day adhesives, and they are still used today in traditional crafts and restoration projects.