Super Glue Chemically Reacts with Cotton or Wool to Generate Enough Heat to Start a Fire

Applying Super Glue (cyanoacrylate) to cotton or wool results in a rapid chemical reaction that releases enough heat to cause minor burns, so typically this should be avoided.  However, if enough cyanoacrylate is added to the cotton or wool, the fabric will catch on fire, making this a great trick to keep in mind in survival situations.

Generally, cotton and wool are readily available and cyanoacrylate is always a good thing to have on hand in first aid kits, due to its wound sealing ability.  So if you ever find yourself lost in the woods with nothing but a first aid kit and no other easy means to start a fire, this little trick might help you out.


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  • Nick Damron

    Just found this out the hard way… -_-

    • Ashley Akers

      Me too!

  • Ed Thomas

    Found this out when I got too lazy to pick up a needle and thread and decided to try Krazy Glue to “stitch up” a small hole in a sweatshirt. Luckily, I only used a very small amount, and I actually managed to get the hole closed. I thought it was quite odd when the Krazy Glue came into contact with the cotton from the sweatshirt and started to smoke.

  • Auston

    Yeah I had a bottle of super glue come into contact with my fleece hoodie. And smoke was plumeing out. Was right in my face, I couldn’t scream the smoke was choking me, and my eyes were burning badly. I don’t ever recommend letting super glue touch anything cotton.

  • Lee

    I just wanted to let you know that the cyanoacrylate your local hospital use to close wounds and the one you buy at the hardware shop are not the same product. The one used for wounds has a different structure to the one we use at home. See below:

    During the Vietnam war it was used in field surgery with good effect, however, despite the promising results it was not approved for use in health care due to the toxicity and two significant side effects during the polymerization process:

    The curing process creates an exothermic reaction (heat) which can cause further tissue damage.

    The process releases cyanoacetate and formaldehyde – both irritants to the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.

    Wound Care
    Derma+flex, SurgiSeal, FloraSeal and Dermabond cause less skin irritation and offer increased flexibility and strength compared to traditional ‘Super Glue’. In 1998 2-octyl cyanoacrylate for the closure of wounds and surgical incision and in 2001 was approved as “barrier against common bacterial microbes including certain staphylococci, pseudomonads, and Escherichia coli”.

    n-butyl cyanoacrylate wound adhesives are available under the trade names: LiquiBand, Histoacryl, Indermil, GluStitch, GluShield, and Periacryl (dental adhesive)

    Octyl ester, while providing a weaker bond, are more flexible. Butyl esters provide stronger bond, but are rigid.

    These do not have exothermic qualities and as a consequence do not harm tissue the way superglue does.