Everything You Need To Know About Hot Glue Guns

Make a DIY picture holder from a spent spool of thread!

If you’re the owner of any kind of crafty toolkit, a hot glue gun is probably in it. It’s one of the basics, along with a good ruler, a self-healing cutting mat, and the pair of scissors that you try to keep hidden from everyone else in your household so they don’t steal them.

But are you really using that hot glue gun to its maximum potential, or is it just wasting away, waiting for the next time that you need to stick an acorn cap to a peg doll’s head, or break your heart trying to make one of those impossible Pinterest wreaths?

The fact is that you could be getting a lot more use out of that hot glue gun, and here’s why:

Your Hot Glue Gun is (Relatively) Eco-Friendly

Well, I don’t want to go too far down this rabbit hole–I mean, the hot glue gun IS made of plastic, and it’s gonna hit the waste stream one day and stay there, and the glue itself isn’t made of nuts and berries or anything. But on the whole, the hot glue gun is a decent choice for the environment when you contrast it to what adhesives you’d otherwise have to use to get the same sticking power.

Most hot glue that you buy is made of ethylene-vinyl acetate, or EVA. It’s got a relatively low melting point, it’s relatively flexible, and it’s got decent waterproofing and UV protection. It bonds well to a variety of materials, although you’re not going to get great weight-bearing power from it.

If you want that same combination of qualities from any other glue, that glue is going to be solvent-based, and solvent-based glues are BAD for the environment. They’re bad for the air (and your lungs), bad for the water, and bad for the soil if they leach into it. I do still use the occasional solvent-based glue, because E6000, although its ingredients list is a nightmare, holds weight better and is more washable than hot glue, so it’s worth it to me to, say, put the handle back on my favorite coffee mug.

But if both a solvent-based glue or a hot glue would work equally well for your purposes (and often they will), hot glue is the better environmental choice.

Your Hot Glue Gun Can Do More Than Just Glue Stuff

Yes, your hot glue gun can glue stuff, but it doesn’t ONLY glue stuff. It can also embellish and add dimension and texture to a project.

Seriously! You can embellish your phone case while making it non-slip. You can make three-dimensional elements to add to note cards or displays. You can add texture to glass or plastic, and if you paint over it, you can mimic the look of fancy embossing:

Image credit: embossed bottle image via Magia Mia

Painted a different way, that texture can make a DIY wand look craggy and ancient.

The key to many of these projects is a hot glue stick in a particular color; you can buy hot glue in loads of colors–a total wash for trying to glue something unobtrusively, but awesome for embellishing.

What is the one thing that I absolutely DON’T want you to put in your hot glue gun, though? Keep reading.

Don’t Put Crayons In Your Hot Glue Gun!

I mean, you *can*–it’s your hot glue gun, right?–but eh. I don’t think you should. You’ve seen the people (they’re on Pinterest, right? Those people are ALWAYS on Pinterest…) who’ve put crayons in their hot glue guns, and it’s super cute, and you want to do that, too.

What you don’t usually see, though, is them having to shave the crayon down to fit into the hot glue gun, or them having to squeeze the hot glue gun soooo carefully to get the melted crayon to come out the tip and not spray out all through the hot glue gun’s workings, because melted crayon is a lot more liquid than hot glue, isn’t it?

You don’t see them just kind of dripping the melted crayon onto their surface, because of course liquid crayon isn’t the right consistency to just ooze out all nicely, and you don’t see them throwing away their hot glue gun after that project, because they are never going to get all the crayon out of that hot glue gun.

Just hold a candle to the crayon to melt it. Or use the little tool that comes in a Pysanky egg kit.

You CAN Do Other Things with Your Hot Glue Gun

Just because you’re not shoving crayons into your hot glue gun doesn’t mean that you can’t do ANY weird stuff with it. Check out these waaaaaay out-of-the box ways to use your hot glue gun!

Faux Water Mimic water, whether a river or a waterfall, with hot glue.

Jewelry Hot glue can make interesting sculptural pieces of jewelry, especially bracelets and necklaces.

Image Credit: spiderweb necklace image via Doodlecraft

Pendants You can use molds intended for resin work to make hot glue pendants! You can even skip the hot glue gun altogether, and simply carve the glue itself to make crystal pendants.

Sculpture Smaller pieces can be made with just the glue alone, but some larger pieces use wire as a base for the hot glue.

Stencils Trace or freehand your own design, then use it endlessly as a stencil.

Got any other awesome hot glue gun tips? Leave them in the Comments below!

2 thoughts on “Everything You Need To Know About Hot Glue Guns”

  1. What a great idea! I even never thought that using a glue gun I can make such wonderful necklace! These are really eye-catching! Feeling hurry to make such a necklace for my daughter! Hope to get one exactly like yours. Thanks Julie, for sharing such helpful idea! 🙂

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