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Dissolving Superglue Problem


Hi all,

One of the large alabaster bowls I sent to Tucson broke in shipping
and in order to show it I glued it with superglue. The bowl in
question is back at home now and I need to gently undo those joints
to restore it properly.

The technical challenge is that the bowl is big, about the size of a
half beachball, and the superglue joints are not tight. Even if I
were to swaddle it in aluminum foil and fill it with acetone this
would quickly leak out. The prospect of having two gallons of acetone
leak onto my floor is not an appealing one and Canadian winter makes
it problematical to do this - or anything else - outdoors.

I understand that water will weaken a cyanoacrylate bond and hence
have the bowl submerged. However after 24 hours nothing useful has
yet happened.

Is there perhaps a non-volatile dissolving agent I can paint onto
the joints? Or a reagent I can add to the water (maybe sodium
hydroxide?) that will reliably attack the cyanoacrylate? Any
experience-based recommendations will be seriously welcome.

Hans Durstling
Moncton, Canada



My Son and I use Super glue on our Slot cars/ (small electric
racecars) usually to glue the magnets into the motors in the correct
spot. When we take the motors apart for rebuilding, sometimes it is
neccessary to remove the magnets. We heat the can of the motor and
the magnets fall out. Magnets are susceptible to heat and can loose
their effectiveness so we don’t heat them too much… perhaps 200 oF
this can be achieved with a hair dryer.

Perhaps heat may work to remove the superglue on your Alabaster
bowls? Hope this helps,

Daniel Grandi
Racecar Jewelry Co. Inc.



I need to gently undo those joints to restore it properly

Soak some cotton balls with the acetone and lay along the line of
the crack - then wrap the bowl in aluminum foil…it keeps the
acetone from evaporating. If you have a way to keep the bowl warm
(such as leaving it under a desk lamp), it will help the acetone
work faster. (I’m a licensed nail tech, and this is the method I use
to disolve artificial nail resin, which is nothing more than
glorified superglue) Good luck!

Crys Mouhssine


on the avocational part - there is a solution to your dilemma.

Paleontologists use cyanoacrylate in the field to coat fossils to
stabilize them before jacketing and transport. I once spent several
days in the museum lab removing cyanoacrylate that had been too
liberally applied to a fossil turtle shell - thus not only
stabilizing the actual fossil but about 3 lbs of the surrounding dirt
and matrix. It should be much easier with your bowl, as the alabaster
is less porous than the turtle shell was.

The procedure goes like this:

Start out in a well ventilated room or, ideally, under a fume hood.
Spread newspaper or something absorbent under the bowl to catch the
dissolved glue and acetone. Then - the tedious part starts. Using a
paint brush, an acid brush or maybe a cotton swab (which is what I
used) and acetone, load the brush with acetone and saturate a small
area at a time. Let it sit for a minute or so and then use paper
towels (you’ll use a lot if it’s a big bowl) to “wick” the residue
from the crack. Repeat as often as needed. Once you have the pieces
separated, you can give them a thorough cleaning, so that you can do
the repairs properly.

You can also check with a company called “Uncommon Conglomerates”
(they generally have a booth with the “fossil guys” in Tucson - I
think their website is or try Google
for “Paleo Bond”) to see if they have anything that will un-do
cyanoacrylate. I know that they make an accellerant (sp?) to shorten
the bonding time for cyanoacrylate, so they might have a reversing
agent as well.

On a side note - a Russian paleontologist once told me that in
Russia they used alcohol based glues because they are easier to

Hope this helps!

Deb Weller
Weller’s Jewelry and Beads
Mesa, AZ


Do you have a steam cleaner? I lot of times hot water or steam will
cause super glue to release.



Hello Hans,

Is there perhaps a non-volatile dissolving agent I can paint onto
the joints? Or a reagent I can add to the water (maybe sodium
hydroxide?) that will reliably attack the cyanoacrylate? Any
experience-based recommendations will be seriously welcome. 

I’m sorry to hear about your bowl.

Here’s a product that you might want to try. De-solv-it works on
adhesives, but I don’t know about dried superglue. I really like the
product myself because it’s biodegradable and easy on the skin.

You might want to test first on a scrap piece of alabaster to make
sure it doesn’t discolor the stone since it’s porous.

Good luck,
Tracy’s Treasures


Hello Hans.

I use cyanoacrylates every day for attaching rough gemstone material
to my faceting dops. The bond will release with heat (or more easily
by freezing). While water will slowly attack an epoxy bond, I don’t
think it does much to cyanoacrylate, or at least not in a short
time. Acetone, MEK and paint stripper (which contains methylene
chloride) all work, but take a while and are quite toxic. For quick
release (a few minutes) I use a product called Super Solvent which
contains nitroalkanes and alcohol and is at least slightly less
toxic than the others…but it can still be dangerous. It is made by
Golden West and I buy it from ColorWright in Tucson, AZ.

I don’t know how big your bowl is, but you might want to "borrow"
some space in the freezer. Just a few minutes in there, a slight
tap, and the join will release. Works well for opal, too, which is
heat sensitive. Good luck.



Hello Hans;

There is a product to remove super glue from fingers that is a gel.
Don’t know the name, but I think I remember it was made by the same
folks that make the “Super Glue” brand. Another solution might be to
try some of those gelatinous paint stripping products. Some are
rather toxic, but there is one called “Citrus Stripper” or Citrus
something that is pretty safe. You could try putting it in a large
enough container, something like a metal bucket, pouring acetone into
the bottom of the container, covering it tightly, and let the vapors
work on it. Finally, put a small amount of acetone in a plastic bag
and see if it dissolves it. There are some plastics that are
impervious to acetone and you could get lucky and fine one. Best of

David L. Huffman


Thought I already posted this, might have been to another group. A
product called “Super Solvent” is designed specifically for
dissolving the super glues (cyanoacrylates). Available from
ColorWright in Tucson AZ. Much less dangerous and toxic than
acetone, but still should be handled with care. Breaks the bond in
minutes and dissolves the glue completely. 877-548-1439 for orders

Heat will work, freezing works faster, but neither of those
dissolves the residue.

A couple minutes in the freezer is a time-honored method of
releasing opal from brass, steel or aluminum cutting dops. Freeze
and tap the metal, poof, you’re done.




I always thought that putting superglued pieces in hot water
(temperature?) dissolved the glue. (I seem to recall even doing it
in a married metal piece, pre-children.) How does the alabaster hold
up in hot water?



Hi Hans,

The bowl in question is back at home now and I need to gently undo
those joints to restore it properly. 

Superglue releases if it is heated and so I would suggest that you
try heating the bowl gently with a hair dryer / paint stripper or a
domestic blower heater. You will need to bring the temperature up
slowly to avoid damaging the alabaster but the glue should release
OK at about 150C and the remaining glue on the bowl can then be
removed by swabbing with acetone. I use superglue all the time as a
temporary adhesive for fixing small bits of metal onto larger
’handle’ bits while I file, drill or tunr them, then I release them
by gently heating them with a little blowlamp or soldering iron.

Best Wishes
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK


Regarding Wayne Emerys comment on “super solvent” for dissolving
super glues…is this solvent harmfull to pearls in any way?

charles vail