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Are Horses Used to Make Glue? Learn the Facts and Myths

Are Horses Used to Make Glue? Learn the Facts and Myths

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Many people are familiar with the stories of horses being used for glue production. Perhaps you have even heard the tales of naughty horses being sent off to the glue factory.

So, are horses used for glue? Horses have been used to make glue in the past, as the collagen found in hooves produces a sticky substance. However, most glues you will find today are made from synthetic materials.

We are going to take a look at the history of glue and what it is made from today. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about your Elmer’s glue containing any horse products. However, there are still a few types of glue today that are still made from animal products.

Are Horse Hooves Still Used to Make Glue?

Horses are typically no longer used to make glue, as it is a rare practice now. In fact, horse slaughter is banned in America, so no glue made in America is made from horses.

Today’s glue production is almost exclusively done with synthetic materials. Not only are synthetic materials cheaper and more ethical but they are also more effective as well.

In some places, animal glue is still used. Though rare, animal glue can be used for glass art, antique furniture, pipe organs, woodworking, and bookbinding.

Animal glue is made by boiling animal collagen in a process called rendering. Collagen comes from the skins, bones, tendons, hooves, and other tissues of animals.

Typically, cattle are used to make animal glue today. However, animal glue can also be made from fish, rabbits, and in very rare cases, horses. In certain cases, animal glue can also be made from hides.

Why Were Horses Used to Make Glue?

Horses were used to make glue because they have a lot of collagen in their hooves, bones, and hides. Collagen is a protein that, when boiled, produces a sticky substance that can be used as glue.

Close up of the underside of a horses hoof

Glue made from horses was once a common household item, but it has been largely replaced by synthetic glues in recent years. However, it is still used in some rare applications, such as occasionally making violins and other musical instruments.

Here are some additional details about the process of making glue from horses:

  • The type of glue that is produced depends on the specific parts of the horse that are used. For example, glue made from hooves is called hoof glue, while glue made from bones is called bone glue.
  • The quality of the glue also depends on the age and health of the horse. Younger horses tend to produce better glue because their collagen is more elastic.
  • Glue made from horses is a natural product, so it is biodegradable and non-toxic. However, it is not as strong as some synthetic glues.

Are Any Products Still Made From Horses?

While horses are no longer used in glue production in America, there are still a few products made from horses today. Fortunately, most of these products do not involve the horse dying to be created.

Horse hair is used for a variety of different products today. Such products include violin bows, paintbrushes, and jewelry, which are made from the tails of horses. In some countries, horse meat is still consumed, however, the practice is frowned upon in a lot of places.

Close up of a horses face with only its eyes and some of its forelock showing

What is Elmer’s Glue Made Of?

Horse lovers can rest assured that Elmer’s glue is not made from horses. Elmer’s glue is made from an aqueous emulsion of Polyvinyl acetate, Polyvinyl alcohol, and Propylene glycol.

Elmer’s glue is all synthetic materials, no animal products are used in its production. Like the majority of commercial glues today, the ingredients are 100% chemical based. In addition, brands such as UHU, Weldbond, and Gorilla Glue do not use animal products.

“No, Elmer’s does not make glue from horses or use animals or animal parts. Our products are made from synthetic materials and are not derived from processing horses, cows, or any other animals. Although there are many ingredients used to make glue, most formulas contain something called polymers,” said the company.

If you are using animal glue, there is a very small chance it could be made from horses. However, animal glue is uncommon and it is even more uncommon to still be made of horses.

History of Glue

The history of glue goes back several thousands of years. The Egyptians first began using adhesives made from animals in 1500 BC.

The Egyptians used animal glue on papyrus scrolls, royal furniture, paintings of pharaohs, and even tombs. At the time, only very wealthy nobles had access to glue.

By the rise of the Greek and Roman Empires, animal glue had become more common. It was used for many tasks, including wood veneering, wood marquetry, and fixing broken pottery.

Early animal glues were made from various ingredients, including egg whites, blood, bones, milk, and beeswax. Other ingredients used to make early glues included vegetables, grains, and tar.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the use of glue continued throughout Europe. Animal glue was primarily only used for woodworking. The arrival of the Renaissance boosted the use of animal glue as woodworkers, painters, and bookmakers largely relied on it for their creations.

In the 1700s, liquid adhesives began being commercially produced in Holland. At this time, horses became commonly used in the glue-making process. Collagen was primarily derived from the hooves and bones of horses, as well as cattle too.

Ranchers would often dispose of old, injured, or even troublesome horses at glue factories. This was a regular occurrence up until the 19th century.

In the 1930s, chemists began to develop synthetic glues, leading to the downfall of animal glues. Nearly all types of glue you buy today are made from synthetic materials and do not contain any animal products. Natural adhesives such as natural rubbers, starch, and casein, can be used to make glue but in most cases, synthetic adhesive agents are used.