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Ever heard the old saying "take the horse to the glue factory"? 

If you're here, you've probably heard that saying and wondered what horses have to do with glue. Here's where that quote originates from, and more about what raw materials are really used to manufacture glues. 

Do you use horses and other animals to manufacture your glues? Is glue really made from horses?

We've gotten these question many times, and understandably so. With a product called "animal glue", some people assume our glues are made with animals - more specifically, horses. 

What Is Animal Glue Really Made Of?

The (icky) old saying "take the horse to the glue factory" originates from the 18th and 19th century, when ranchers would dispose of animals (horses) to factories that manufactured glue (Wikipedia). This was long before LD Davis was in the glue business, and the products we make today - while still referred to as animal glue - are not made with horses. 

In fact, no animals have ever been brought into our North Carolina manufacturing plant for glue production. 

What Is ANIMAL Hide Glue?

Decades ago, the main raw material in our animal glue formulas was dehydrated hide glue. 

hide glue animal glue ld davisHistorically, hide glue was known as and referred to as animal glue. This type of dry granular glue, which is mixed with hot water for application, has existed since ancient times.

The first known written procedures of making hide glue were written about 2000 BC. Between 1500–1000 BC, it was used for wood furnishings and mural paintings, found even on the caskets of Egyptian Pharaohs.

To be clear, no animal parts are in our hide glue.  As the name suggest, the hides are soaked in a solution to extract the collagen (similar to bone broth today).  That collagen "slurry” floats to the top, is removed, dried and ground up into the crystals you see above.

Hide glue still has a number of uses today. It is most commonly used in woodworking applications, as it has a number of reversibility advantages for hand work. 

How Is Our Animal Glue Manufactured Now?

Many of the glues that we manufacture now, which are referred to as animal glue, are actually made with recycled pharmaceutical gelatin. Gelatin is a protein derived from collagen protein. That is why you will sometimes hear us refer to our gelatin-based glues has protein glues. 

Why You Should Be Using Protein Glue

Gelatin is used in many items we consume every day. Here are just a few:

  • Vitamin capsules
  • Skin care products
  • Cosmetics
  • Shampoo
  • Photographic film
  • Jell-o, marshmallows, candy corn (and a number of candies)
  • Cheesecake
  • Some wines

Our team has long standing partnerships with some of the world's largest pharmaceutical gelatin users. We have been able to help them to find a use for a gelatin "waste" that they can no longer use in their manufacturing process. 

Of course, gelatin is not the only raw material in our natural gelatin-based glues. They are formulated with a few additional raw materials, including: water, glycerin, Epsom salt, and corn sugar. These eco-friendly glues are a favorite among luxury packaging manufacturers, book manufactures, rigid box makers and more.

So if you're wondering if anyone is taking their horse to the glue factory, you can rest assured they are certainly not bringing it to LD Davis. This is an old saying that, no pun intended, just stuck around in the industry.

If you'd like to learn more about our gelatin glues, or our manufacturing process, feel free to contact our technical team! 

Read: The Benefits of Natural Eco-Friendly Adhesives 

Topics: Animal Glue, protein glue, gelatin glue, sustainable glue, ecofriendly glue