What Is Horse Glue? Are Horses Killed to Make Glue?

Horse Glue

Horses are large, majestic animals that have been loyal companions to humans for as long as we can remember. People have used these creatures to travel and even in battle. However, that is not the end of it. After horses die, their remains are used to make horse glue.

So, what is horse glue? And, are horses killed to make glue? Well, let’s find out! This article will answer both of these questions and offer various facts about this topic.

Horse glue is an adhesive substance that is made from horse remains. It’s usually made from sick or dead horses. So, no, horses are generally not killed to make animal glue, but they might be in some cases.


What Is Horse Glue?

Horses have high contents of the protein called collagen because of how large they are. Collagen is present in the bones and cartilage in the animals’ joints.

This protein is an essential ingredient in the creation of this adhesive. The collagen is used to make gelatin, which can be an extremely sticky substance. Collagen is responsible for holding the body together.

The word itself is derived from a Greek word that means glue. Therefore, this substance can become an excellent adhesive after processing.

While this type of glue is great at what it does, it can put the lives of some horses at risk, as you’ll learn below. Therefore, there are synthetic adhesives to consider as well.

Animal glue is typically better than synthetic glue because of a few reasons. Some of these include:

  • It’s possible to reapply a new layer of horse glue on an existing layer of the adhesive.
  • You can heat the glue to reapply it and stick two surfaces together again

Horse glue’s effectiveness as an adhesive is why people still use it for various purposes.


Are Horses Killed to Make Horse glue?

There isn’t a definitive answer to this question. Typically, sick or dead horses are used for making this adhesive. When an animal dies, the owner can choose to give it to glue factories for making this substance.

That said, there are no horse slaughterhouses in the United States since 2007, when the last three of them were shut down. However, the US exports thousands of horses every year to other countries to slaughterhouses. In 2017, it exported approximately 80,000 horses.

Therefore, in some rare cases, people may slaughter horses to make horse glue, albeit not in the United States. However, the adhesive is usually made from horses that have passed away naturally. So, you don’t have to worry about your horse being turned into glue.


Horses Are Still at Risk in the United States

As technology continues to advance and there’s more awareness about animal-based products, there are other adhesives available that are made from synthetic materials. This way, animals are at less risk of being killed for ingredients.

Horses are still being bred in the United States for export to slaughterhouses outside the country. Therefore, even though people in the US may not be killing animals for meat and materials for creating glue, they’re still playing a role in these animals’ cruel deaths.


The Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2019 Protects Horses

The Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2019 is a bill that protects horses and prevents their export to slaughterhouses outside the US. Congress still hasn’t passed this bill, but once it does, the law will prioritize horses’ safety.

Congress learned that some horse owners in the US frequently treat their horses with substances that aren’t safe for their consumption but prepares the animals for human consumption. Therefore, parts of horses are unsafe, according to section 409 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

If the bill passes, the horses being bred for overseas slaughterhouses may still be at risk at some capacity. This is because many of these animals won’t have anywhere to go. There’s only so much that horse shelters can do to protect these creatures.


The Number of Horses Exported from the US is Decreasing

The good news is that the number of horses exported for human consumption outside the US is decreasing, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The US exported a total of 53,947 horses to Mexico in 2019. This figure marks a 26% decrease from the number of exports in 2018, which were 70,708 horses.


What Is Horse Glue Used For?

People have been using animal glue for millennia now. Humans learned how they could use animal protein to hold together, and thus, used it for various purposes.

One of the earliest recorded uses of this type of adhesive was for developing Asiatic re-curve bows. People preferred this substance over others because it is elastic in addition to being tough.

The ancient Egyptians also used animal glue in its various artifacts—one of which dated back to the 9th century BC. Therefore, the history of animal glue is quite extensive, even though horses weren’t always used for making these adhesives.

In contemporary usage, horse glue and other forms of animal glue (these include animal,s such as cattle, fish, and rabbits) are used for repairing antiques, including pottery and other materials. People also use these adhesives for woodworking, binding books together, and glass art. There may be other purposes for horse glue beyond these as well.


How Is Horse Glue Made?

Horse parts have to go through a process before becoming an adhesive. Here’s a short breakdown of the process.

Manufactures Collect and Wash Horse Parts

Glue manufacturers collect horse parts from slaughterhouses or animal farms. These parts include the cartilages, bones, and hide. After collection, they wash the horse parts so that there is no dust or dirt present on the materials.


The Horse Parts Are Soaked in Water Baths Containing Lime

The third step of this process is to soak all of these clean parts and hides in water baths. Soaking the parts in the water helps soften them up. This way, glue manufacturers can transform the parts into a sticky substance.

Manufactures place the baths in different water baths, one after the other. Each consecutive water bath has a greater content of lime in it. The lime content in the water baths helps the animal materials to swell up. As these parts continue to swell, they eventually break down as well. At this point, they begin to become the adhesive material as we know it.


Manufacturers Rinse, Color, and Dry the Glue Mix

The fourth step is rinsing the lime content off of the now softened horse parts. Thus, manufacturers use a combination of weak acids and water for this process. A mixture with less contamination will do a better job as an adhesive.

Some manufactures choose to add a color additive to the glue mix. This way, it can match the color of the surfaces on which you can apply it.

After that’s complete, the final step is to dry the glue mix.

That is to say that the glue manufacturer must extract the water content from the mix so that it hardens and becomes an effective glue.

Animal glue is not effective when it’s wet. That is why you can reuse it by heating it and melting it to a liquid.


Are there Alternatives to Horse Glue?

Yes, there are synthetic alternatives to horse glue. Some examples of synthetic glues include epoxy, poly(vinyl acetate), polyurethane, and phenol-formaldehyde.

While these substances prevent the death of countless animals, namely horses, they are not environmentally friendly.

These adhesives are based on toxic chemicals that include toluene diisocyanate (TDI), methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), epichlorohydrin, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and formaldehyde.

These substances can pose risks to the health of various living beings. Therefore, more people are considering bio-based adhesives as an alternative to synthetic ones.

Bio-based adhesives are created from recycled organic plant-based materials. Therefore, these adhesives are a much more environmentally friendly option as opposed to their synthetic counterparts.

J.D. Mathias in Biopolymers and Biotech Admixtures for Eco-Efficient Construction Materials speculates that US and EU legislation will accelerate the use of bio-based adhesives instead of synthetic ones. This is because bio-based glues are typically a lot better for the environment and the health of living beings.


Conclusion: Horse Glue

After reading this article, you should have answers to your questions about what horse glue is and how it affects horses’ lives.

While horse glue and other animal-based glues are generally made from already dead animals, these creatures are still at risk because one can still profit by killing them and using them for making adhesives.

Therefore, it’s best to consider other alternatives to animal-based adhesives instead. As technology advances, so does the effectiveness of these substances. So, make sure to keep these points in mind the next time you need to use a strong adhesive.

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