What is an Adhesive Solvent?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

An adhesive solvent is a product which is designed to break down the bonds in adhesives, allowing people to separate objects which were adhered together or to remove adhesive residue and goo. There are a wide variety of such products on the market, reflecting the diversity of available adhesives. It is possible to find adhesive solvents at many hardware and home supply stores, and specialty products for problem adhesives can be special ordered if they are not kept in stock.

It is important to use an adhesive solvent in a well ventilated place to avoid inhaling them.
It is important to use an adhesive solvent in a well ventilated place to avoid inhaling them.

Adhesives are designed to create a strong bond. They can be made from a variety of materials, and they are usually tailored to specific types of surfaces such as plastics, wood, or metals. The strength of the bond varies, depending on the product and its intended use. Some adhesives are designed to allow for relatively easy separation, although residue may be left behind, and others are intended to create a permanent bond. Permanent adhesives can be very challenging to remove without causing damage, even with adhesive solvent.

An adhesive solvent breaks down the adhesive, turning it into a loose solution which will allow objects to be separated. Adhesive solvents can also be used to remove adhesive residue from a product; for example, someone who wants to take a sticker off cleanly could use an adhesive solvent to soften the adhesive to facilitate removal.

Many of these products are very similar to paint strippers, in part because paint is made with adhesives which are designed to help it stay on. Adhesive solvents can be applied in a number of ways, depending on the product. Some are meant to be poured onto a sponge or swab and used to rub at the adhesive, others spray on, and others can be poured on. Adhesive solvents designed for soaking are also available, for especially stubborn bonds.

Many adhesive solvents are toxic. It is important to use an adhesive solvent in a well ventilated place to avoid inhaling them, and it can help to wear a mask as well. Solvents also should not be touched with bare hands, as skin irritation can result. People should also take care to use an appropriate solvent when they need to dissolve an adhesive bond; a product designed for something like white glue, for example, will not be effective on anything but white glue. If people aren't sure about what kind of solvent to buy, they can ask for advice from the staff of a store which sells adhesive solvents.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Since adhesive solvents are so strong and toxic, how do you keep from damaging the item they were put on - like furniture, and toys?

These solvents would be handy to use. I've gone just about crazy trying to get adhesives off.

It seems that some of these solvents are toxic to breathe, and to get on your bare skin. It's easy to forget about taking precautions.

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