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If I want to repair a kitchen utensil and want to be (totally) sure there is nothing poisonous, cancerous, allergenic, [fill in your adjective] in the glue. What should I choose?

Fish glue, rabbit glue, horse glue, [favourite animal] glue springs to mind but I doubt these stand kitchen use with warm water and normal abuse. Besides - if I don't happen to have a horse ripe for slaughter I have to buy the glue already bottled and then there might be preservatives in the glue to keep the, former, horse from developing a new skin of mold fur...

It seems to be more complex than just a "read on the bottle". There is some info on wood whisperer and properly cured epoxy should be safe.

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    Do you have a picture or more of a description of the object to help with a solution? Depending on the size of your object we might be able to do something else with it along with glue to keep it together. – Matt May 11 '15 at 12:46
  • What I, presently, have on mind is a turned mould for hamburgers (horse glue...) but I was thinking in a more general way. Possible solution: One can consider gluing the parts of wood a distance from where the wood touches the food. Though: when the season changes it might lead to cracks where the food can hide (and develop a hide (of mold)(pun intended)). – LosManos May 11 '15 at 13:22
  • "food-safe" is a good keyword to look out for. – ratchet freak May 11 '15 at 14:01
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    If, as you say, you want to be “totally sure”, you shouldn't be using wood in the first place. – coreyward May 11 '15 at 15:40
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PVA glues such as Titebond are generally non-toxic and are considered safe enough to use in cutting boards, butcher blocks, and other food-safe applications. Be sure to read the label to confirm that the specific PVA glue you plan to use is, indeed, non-toxic.

Hide glue is non-toxic but as you mentioned, the glue bond can be broken with heat--a feature that is desirable in some applications. It may hold up well enough in the kitchen, but it probably wouldn't work well for a trivet or anything that you plan to wash in the dishwasher or which may be otherwise subjected to high heat.

For small repairs, CA glue (cyanoacrylate), more commonly considered superglue, is mildly toxic but can be considered non-toxic for most practical purposes (especially after curing). However, CA glue accelerators (used to make CA glue cure more quickly) are toxic. Again, read the label or MSDS sheet for the particular formulation you plan to use.

As you pointed out in your question, epoxy is also often considered food-safe after it is fully-cured.

  • I looked that way until I checked and found Swedish "Benzisotiazolin, 5-klor-2-metyl-2H-isotiazol-3-on and 2-metyl-2H-isotiazon-3-on. Can cause allergic reaction." Then I found Polyvinylacetat, Dietylenglykolmonobutyleteracetat, bronopol, benzisotiazon, isotiazolon and some more. Also I found "...avoid direct contact..." "...use gloves..." It is probably not at all dangerous for a grown up. But who knows? – LosManos May 11 '15 at 14:15
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    The fact that something has a long chemical name doesn't mean that it's toxic. – Caleb May 11 '15 at 14:19
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    @LosManos a couple practical factors to consider are the toxicity after curing, and the amount of glue surface that will be exposed to food. Even pure water can be toxic in sufficient quantity. – rob May 11 '15 at 14:22
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    @Rob-- dihydrogen monoxide aspiration is a deadly danger! ;) – TX Turner May 11 '15 at 14:25
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    Also wood in itself can be toxic. Trees don't live to be a hundred without some built in bug repellents. – LosManos May 11 '15 at 14:55
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If I want to repair a kitchen utensil and want to be (totally) sure there is nothing poisonous, cancerous, allergenous (is that a word?), [fill in your adjective]

You can't be totally sure. To be more specific: you can't be totally sure. Individual responses to certain compounds or chemicals always trump general reassurances and the "safe for direct food contact" OK from a government agency such as the FDA in America.

However, given the hidden chemicals within plastic and rubber-like materials in common usage in kitchens — for utensils, cutting boards and bakeware — all of which come into direct contact with food, it seems a little disproportionately cautious to be worried about a possible chemical leaching from a single glue joint, that doesn't directly contact food, on only a single utensil.

Fish glue, rabbit glue, horse glue, [favourite animal] glue springs to mind but I doubt these stand kitchen use with warm water and normal abuse.

If the joint is made correctly any protein glue should be more than strong enough because any well-made glued joint is at least as strong as the surrounding wood. But all of these glues will weaken in the presence of both heat and moisture.

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There is also cyanacrylate glue. It should be usable close to food since variants of it can be used with wounds.

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