Polyvinyl acetate aka the good stuff
I just finished ranting about hot glue and four year olds over on Facebook and I thought I should share with you at the blog. We have a dye lab where I work, which is a super-cool-amazing classroom space that is set up for just about every kind of messy project out there AND you can rent it for the day and do all of your messy projects right there. It has 4 ventilation hoods, it has safety equipment, it has washers and stainless steel counters. It is seriously cool.
It is also the place where strange things go to die (and I don’t mean dye!) Because it is a shared space, strange chemicals sometimes wander in and then don’t go back to their rightful homes. About twice a year, I go through all of the shelves and boxes and sort out the mystery chemicals. Sometimes it is things like laundry soap or salt, which are easy to get rid of, but sometimes it is things I don’t know what to do with, like glacial acetic acid or urea. I don’t want to just dump things down the sink without neutralizing them or disposing of them safely.
So I always spend some time with MSDS sheets. That stands for Materials Safety Data Sheet. You can look up nearly any chemical and see what it is, what it does, what you should worry about and how to get rid of it. Very useful.
So I looked up ethylene vinyl acetate, aka hot glue.
Hazardous decomposition products: ACETIC ACID, TOXIC AND IRRITATING FUMES AT TEMPERATURES >204 °C.
Hmmm. So I looked some more. Hot glue melts between 250-380 degrees. Easily hot enough to release bad fumes. No other major red flags, but enough there to make me not want to use it with a classroom of kids without some good ventilation. (And that’s ignoring the fact that it is hotter than boiling water and I don’t want anybody burning themselves.)
How to find them? You can google “MSDS” with the name of the chemical. ProChem (where we order a lot of the dye lab chemicals) has MSDS for all of their products posted right on their website. Dharma does too. End PSA.