Is my modeling glue making me sick?

A Modeling Help Article by Dad

I started building and painting twenty-eight millimeter scale miniatures several years ago. The first miniature I ever painted was a pewter Eladrin Warlock character, for a Dungeons and Dragons fourth edition campaign I was starting with some friends.  It was a fun project that taught me the basics of modeling and painting.  I was hooked from that first project and I’ve managed to fully paint and base several hundred minis since. Now I maintain a large modeling, painting and gaming space to enjoy my hobby in. However, I’ve got an issue, I’m allergic to super glue.

Why does glue smell?

We all know that cyanoacrylate adhesives, more commonly known as super glues, are really stinky.  The reason for the smell, is most super glues offgas a vaporized version of cyanoacrylate monomer.  This monomer can irritate your mucous membranes in the respiratory tract. For most people, using these adhesives in a well ventilated room is enough to prevent side effects. However, about 5% of the population is allergic enough that this irritation turns into what feels like a head cold or flu for several days. 

The Cyanoacrylate Wikipedia page explains this issue pretty well. You can read what they have to say here.

Am I allergic to Super Glue?

I found out I was allergic to most glues through trial and error.  Once I started really getting into miniature modeling, I was using super glue a lot more than I had previously.  Eventually, I made the connection that every time I spent a day building models, I was sick for a week with a head cold or flu.  It took being sick for almost a month solid until I figured out that my super glue was the issue.  After a ton of searching online, I started finding testimonials from other miniature modelers out there that had the same super glue allergy.

How do I stick stuff together if I’m allergic to Super Glue?

I realized I had two choices, either rebuild my workspace with tons of crazy ventilation under a chemical hood, or find a superglue that was odorless.

Pretty much everyone I found that posted about flue allergies recommended using the Super-Gold+ CA odorless super glues.  They are expensive compared to standard glues, but they don’t offgas that mucous membrane irritating monomer. The glues come in a range of thicknesses from very thin to thick gap filling. This allows you to continue gluing miniatures and models, no matter your application.  I mostly use the medium thickness for gluing models to bases, building metal and resin models, adding basing plants/rocks, and final model assembly after painting those hard to reach spots.  It really is the best middle ground for general assembly of different materials like cork, plastic, pewter, resin, dirt, rocks, etc.

Since I started using odorless super glues, I no longer have those crazy side effects from my allergy. This has been huge for me personally, as miniature modeling and painting has become a regular form of meditation and therapy for dealing with my other chronic health issues.  I wouldn’t have been able to come this far with my painting and modeling skills without an odorless option for superglues.

So, if you are starting out in the miniature modeling and painting hobby and you begin having unexplained head cold and flu like symptoms, it might just be the super glue you are using.  But don’t let that stop you from enjoying an amazing family hobby. The wealth of miniatures that need some assembly and paintwork are still accessible to you with a solid odorless superglue like the Super-Gold+ Odorless. To check this great glue out for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Want to see more? Check out some of our other articles and reviews below.

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