According to my facebook and twitter friends, I am not the only one who gets burned EVERYTIME I use a hot glue gun. For this reason, I typically will hand sew, nail, or E-6000 something before I will use a hot glue gun. But, every once in a while, there is just no substitute for hot glue. For example, when working with faux flowers and moss, nothing beats hot glue.

So, this week I decided to put an end to hot glue gun burns!  I googled “Hot Glue Gun Safety” last week and learned a few tips about using a glue gun. If you are like me, you may do a head slap and feel pretty stupid after reading this post. If you are already the intelligent being who never gets burned when using hot glue, well then you can close your browser and I now bequeath you with a “genius” award. Now scram! For the rest of us, keep reading.

Dedication: I dedicate this blog post to my dear friend Sarah VMK! She and I were discussing all the burns I tend to get while using a glue gun and she remarked, “You really need to do a post about this.” So, here it is Sarah!

Remember to use EXTREME caution:

The most important thing to know about using a hot glue gun is that it is dangerous! Never mind that you can buy one for $5 or less and some of them look like they were made by the same company that makes McDonald’s happy meal toys.

Or that most of them do not come with instruction manuals. Treat this little “gun” like a power tool and use extreme caution when using it. Don’t let those dual temp glue guns fool you. “Low” temperature is still hot enough to burn you. Listen up y’all so we can say goodbye to glue gun burns FOREVER!

photo courtesy of HelloHayley

Proper tools:


When you get ready to use a hot glue gun, be sure you have these things close at hand.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

  • Heat resistant mat – a foil wrapped piece of cardboard, silicone mat or a cookie sheet will work fine
  • Needle-nosed pliers or tweezers for holding small objects
  • Popsicle sticks for pressing the glue down – Keep the popsicle stick in your hand so you won’t be tempted to use your finger
  • Bowl of ice water
  • Clean dry washcloth
  • Hot glue gun with dual temp (use it on low setting)
  • Extra glue sticks

There are also finger caps sold to protect your fingers if you are really concerned about safety.

Long vs. short power cord:


The power cord on my glue gun is not very long. It barely reaches to the nearest outlet. Don’t allow your cord to dangle in mid-air for someone to snag or trip on. Get an extension cord so that it can lay flat on the floor while you are working. This will also give you more reach while working with the glue gun.

If the cord does get snagged and your glue gun starts to fall over, resist all the temptations to grab it. Just let it fall (and hopefully it won’t land on you or anyone else.)

 

Your glue gun at rest:

Ideally, you want to rest your glue gun upright on a flat heat resistance surface. I use mine on this foil wrapped piece of cardboard. But, inevitably the gun falls over sideways. I used to instinctively try to stop it from falling. But, that is a burn hazard waiting to happen.

Now I just lay the glue gun on its side making sure that the hot tip is not touching anything. No more tipping glue gun.

 

Working with your hot glue gun:

Gather all your craft pieces together and make sure that they are within reach so you don’t have to lean over your glue gun to retrieve anything. Make sure all distractions, children, pets, etc. are out of your way. Remember, this is a dangerous tool!

Think about your project before you start. Are you going to put glue on the object or press the object into glue. What is the best procedure that keeps your fingers the furthest from the hot glue.

Squeeze hot glue onto the object you want to glue. For decorative moss balls, I decided it was best to drizzle hot glue onto a piece of moss.

Roll your ball or light bulb onto the moss. (That’s right, I mossed a light bulb! Hey, I had to find something to do with these bulbs leftover from the hollywood light fixture.) Be very careful to keep hands away from the moss.

Use a popsicle stick to press the moss to the ball (or lightbulb.)

As the bare spots get smaller, you may decide to add hot glue to the ball (err, light bulb.)

Lightly set the moss into the glue, then use a popsicle stick to press it firmly into the glue.

 

As long as you face the bulb base away from the viewer, no one would ever guess that it was actually a light bulb!

When working with smaller objects, DO NOT hold them with your fingers. It is best to put glue on the larger object and press the smaller ones into the glue. Pick up your small object with needle-nosed pliers or tweezers.

Place it, then use your popsicle stick to firmly press the small object into the glue.

If you absolutely have to put glue on a smaller object. Do not use your fingers or hands! Use the tweezers or pliers to hold it while you add the glue.

Okay – and I know – sometimes there is no substitute for using your fingers. If you decide to take the risk of putting your fingers in mortal danger, let the glue cool for a few seconds, then you can gently reposition the object as long as there is NO glue near your flesh.

 

If you do get burned:

Even the most careful preparation and concentration will not protect you from an occasional accident. So, think like the Boy Scouts, be prepared.

Keep a bowl of ice water nearby. If you burn your finger tips, dunk them in the ice water as soon as possible. Keep a washcloth at hand in case you burn your arm, leg or something that can’t be dunked in the bowl. Then you can wet the washcloth and apply it to the burn. It is crucial to cool down a burn as soon as possible to reduce the damage.

 

After your project:

Unplug your hot glue gun as soon as you are done with your project. Pick the cord up off the floor so no one can accidentally tug on it. Let your gun cool COMPLETELY before storing it away.

Inspect your glue gun periodically for signs of splits or breaks or signs of wear and tear. As soon as you discover any problems, discontinue using the hot glue gun and discard it. Remember, they are cheap and can be easily replaced! Your fingers will thank you.

 

 

39 replies
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  1. Mackenzie
    Mackenzie says:

    So the other night i was bedazzling a box for my graduation party.. i had been using my glue gun for a few hours; when all of a sudden a burst of fire shot out from it. I unplugged it and haven’t used it since. Should i discard it and buy a new one, or is it safe to give it another shot?

    Reply
  2. Laura
    Laura says:

    Thanks for the great hot glue gun safety tips! I’ve burned myself a few times doing these sorts of projects before and it’s not pleasant. If you want to check out a bunch of other great DIY projects check out the Pure Home blog: http://blog.purehome.com .

    Thanks for posting!

    Reply
  3. Abi
    Abi says:

    I get burned every time I use a glue gun, but it’s mainly because I’m impatient. Where those little pink plastic finger caps that you could wear?!? I need those for sure!

    Reply
  4. Barbara @diyHomeStagingTips.com
    Barbara @diyHomeStagingTips.com says:

    Great post. Thanks for helping us crafters.

    Since readers are adding tips, here’s mine. I prefer to keep an ice cube on a facecloth nearby, instead of a bowl of water. It takes up less room, there’s less chance of a spill, and it stays ice cold. Since most burns are fingertip size, an ice cube usually covers the whole burn, instantly anesthetizing it. If the burned surface is larger, you can always rub the area with the ice. I’ve worked as a chef, so I learned that icing a burn immediately prevents blistering.

    As always, you’ve given us a really instructive, well illustrated post!

    Reply

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