Wood glue is an exceptionally tight and sticky glue that lets crafters glue pieces of wood together.
Although it can be used for more projects beyond woodworking, it’s primarily geared toward wooden projects.
Since wooden projects sometimes end up outside where freezing temperatures can occur, you may wonder what will happen to the glue on the wood.
You may also wonder about your glue sitting in your shed or workshop in the freezing temperatures.
Here’s what you need to know about wood glue and freezing temperatures.
Does Wood Glue Go Bad If Frozen?
No, wood glue does not immediately go bad if it’s frozen.
However, if it’s repeatedly exposed to freezing temperatures, it can impact its consistency.
When looking at the label on your wood glue, you should see something from the manufacturer that describes its ability to remain useable in a certain number of freezing cycles.
This essentially means that it can last a certain number of winters or exposure to freezing temperatures.
For example, it may say that wood glue is good for five freezing cycles.
This means that the glue can hold up for five winters that reach freezing temperatures.
After five winters, however, the glue will start to lose its consistency and become less sticky.
As such, it’s a good idea to keep projects using wood glue inside or in areas that aren’t exposed to freezing temperatures.
It’s also ideal to leave wood glue in a shed or workshop that stays at room temperature.
What Happens To Wood Glue When It’s Frozen?
The problem with wood glue is that most types include water in their ingredients.
When water gets exposed to freezing temperatures, it turns into ice crystals.
The ice crystals can then cause problems with the rest of the glue’s ingredients.
In particular, when wood glue freezes, it creates gel cells.
At first, the cells start small in number.
However, the more freezing cycles that the glue goes through, the more these cells accumulate.
It also becomes more difficult to disrupt them.
The result is a glue that becomes too tacky.
It doesn’t stick to anything but itself.
This can make the wood glue useless if you’re unsure how to restore it.
Even restoration sometimes doesn’t work if the glue is too far gone from its original composition.
That said, there are some ways to get rid of the gel inside of the glue after it has frozen.
How To Restore Wood Glue After It Has Frozen
If you accidentally left your wood glue in your shed, then you may wonder how to restore it.
The good news is that if you only left it out there for one freezing cycle, restoring it is relatively easy.
Here are a few ways you can restore wood glue after it’s frozen.
For wood glue that has only frozen once, all you need to do is physically stir it.
Open up the wood glue cap and stick a coffee stirrer or some sort of stirring stick that you don’t mind getting glued up.
Take the stirrer and give the glue a few quick stirs.
The physical movement helps destroy the gel cells and reverts them to their normal state.
At some point, stirring won’t do too much if the glue has a lot of gel in it.
For glue that’s undergone one or two freezing cycles, however, stirring should do the trick.
You can also help restore it by tapping on the bottle first.
You’ll want to continue stirring until the glue has its regular smooth consistency.
2. Heat The Glue In Warm Water
If the glue has undergone several freezing cycles, then it may be near the end of its lifespan.
However, there is a way that you might be able to restore it.
Fill a pot with water and set it to warm on the stove.
Then put your wood glue bottle in the pot.
You’re not looking to boil the water.
You only want it to be warm.
As the glue sits in the warm water, the bottle’s contents start to warm, too.
This can help destroy some of the gel that’s making it tacky and impossible to use.
Once enough of the gel is gone, you can use a stirring stick to further disrupt the gel and restore the glue to its smooth consistency.
3. Add Water
If your glue is water-based, then you can also add 5% water to the glue.
The percentage depends on the total amount of glue in the bottle and not the bottle size, itself.
The water helps hydrate the glue and dissolve any gel cells lingering within it.
The hydration also helps the glue flow easier and maintain its smooth texture.
You don’t want to add too much water, however, as this can damage the glue’s ability to remain sticky.
By adding 5% water to water-based wood glue, you can restore its stickiness.
4. Sit At Room Temperature
If you find that your wood glue is still frozen, then you need to let it thaw first.
The best way to do this is to let it thaw normally by sitting at room temperature.
Simply place the bottle on a shelf or your desk for a few hours.
It may take a full 24 hours or even 48 hours for the glue to thaw.
If you want to speed up the process, then you can use the previous tip and place it in warm water.
However, letting it thaw on its own helps the glue maintain its consistency with fewer problems.
You’ll know the glue is ready for use when you test it.
How To Test Wood Glue After It Has Frozen
One of the most important parts of using wood glue is knowing when it’s ready for use.
After your wood glue has sat frozen for a few months or weeks, it isn’t immediately ready for use.
You need to stir, melt, or thaw it with the tips given above.
After you perform those tips, you need to test the glue to determine if it still needs stirring, thawing, or melting.
To do so, you need a scrap of test wood.
Take your brush or glue tube and spread a line of glue on the wood.
If the wood comes out shiny and smooth, then it’s ready for use.
However, if it looks clumpy or tacky, then it’s still having problems.
You’ll want to continue to stir, melt, or thaw it depending on how many frozen cycles it’s seen.
Only once the glue comes out smooth is it ready for use.
If it never comes out smooth, then you’ll want to test it for strength.
Take the scrap piece of wood and another scrap piece and stick them together with the glue.
Let the glue dry overnight, then check the strength of the adhesion the next day.
If it seems as though the wood glue is holding the pieces together, then the glue is still usable.
However, if it comes apart, then you know that the glue has reached the end of its life.
The last frozen cycle has impacted it too much for it to be useable.
To prevent this from happening, it’s a good idea to know how to store your wood glue in the first place.
How To Store Wood Glue Properly
To avoid having your wood glue become frozen, you need to know how best to store it.
The best place to store wood glue is in a dark, dry area that sits at room temperature.
Placing it in a storage unit or on a shelf is ideal as long as the area is dry and warm.
You should avoid leaving it in the shed when winter rolls around.
While it’s fine to put your wood glue in your outdoor shed during the fall, spring, and summer seasons, you’ll want to bring it inside your home during the winter.
This will prevent the need to take preparatory measures to get the glue ready and working after it experiences a freezing cycle.
By keeping your wood glue in a dark and dry area at room temperature, you can make it last for a long time.
How Long Does Wood Glue Last?
According to most labels on wood glue, the glue can last for one or two years.
However, most manufacturers know that wood glue can last for over 10 years.
The key to making it last that long is proper storage.
They put one or two years on the label because they expect most users aren’t going to keep their wood glue in ideal conditions.
Since it’s not in an ideal condition, it’s unlikely going to last for 10 years.
The ideal condition for most types of wood glue is a dry and cool basement.
Even putting it in the fridge is an ideal place for it.
The problem with wood glue comes when it freezes and has to thaw over and over again.
By keeping it at the same, relative, temperature, it’s able to keep its consistency for years.
Can You Use Wood Glue In The Cold?
There may come a time when you need to complete a project in the winter using wood glue.
You may wonder if the wood glue will hold up since you’re using it in freezing temperatures.
The good news is that it will still work provided it isn’t frozen.
You can use the methods listed earlier to restore the glue before attempting to use it.
Another thing you can do to ensure the wood glue adheres properly to the wood is to heat the wood.
You can use a heat gun to carefully blow warm air over the wood.
You don’t want to get too close with the heat gun as it can scorch the wood.
If you’re worried about damaging the wood, then you can also use a hairdryer and put it on high to heat the wood.
The wood glue will have an easier time adhering to the warm wood.
Another idea is to pour out some wood glue inside your basement or house.
By not taking the entire bottle out of the house, you don’t risk freezing the entire bottle.
Only the sample you poured out will freeze.
With warmed wood, you’ll find that applying wood glue is relatively easy.
More importantly, it will stick.
How Do You Know If Your Wood Glue Is Still Good?
Besides its smooth texture, there’s another important thing you can check that can help determine if your wood glue is still good.
Take a small dish and pour some wood glue into it.
If the glue pours, then it’s still usable.
If it has trouble pouring, then it needs some help, and you should perform the tests described earlier to further determine its quality.
If it doesn’t pour at all, then the glue is no longer good.
It’s too tacky for use.
It will only stick to itself and not to the wood or other objects.
At What Temperature Does Wood Glue Freeze?
If you want to protect your wood glue, then you may want to know what you need to protect it from.
Wood glue starts to freeze at the same temperature that water does.
That means when temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, wood glue starts to freeze.
That’s because most wood glue contains water.
If you have white or yellow wood glue, then there’s a good chance that it has water in it.
In that case, it’s the water that freezes when temperatures drop below 32 degrees.
To keep your wood glue safe, you’ll want to keep it in an area above 32 degrees at the very least.
How Much Wood Glue Do You Need To Use For A Project?
You can avoid wasting wood glue by knowing how much you need to use.
It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that more glue means better adhesion.
However, that isn’t always the case.
With wood glue, the best amount of glue is a thin bead that you apply in a strand along the length of the surface to be glued.
When you squeeze the piece together with another piece and clamp them together, the pressure should be enough that you see a small amount of squeeze-out.
If you see a large amount, then you probably used too much glue.
How Long Should You Clamp Wood Glued Pieces Together?
Anyone who’s worked with wood glue before knows that if you remove the clamps too soon, it can completely ruin the piece.
The clamps help seal the wooden pieces together with the glue.
By removing them too early, the two pieces can lose adhesion and fall apart.
That said, in the best conditions, you’ll want to keep the two pieces clamped together for an hour.
Those ideal conditions are between the temperatures of 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity between 40% and 60 %.
The higher the temperature is the faster the glue dries.
This also goes for low humidity.
The lower the humidity is, the faster it will dry.
Colder temperatures tend to make the drying slower.
High humidity also makes the glue dry slower.
If you want to ensure the piece is completely glued together, then you should leave the clamps on for 24 hours.
Wood glue is a great type of glue for wood and other surfaces.
However, if it becomes frozen, its quality will be affected.
While there are ways to reactivate the glue, the best thing to do is to keep it in a dry and cool basement in the first place.