I was recently caught off-guard and a little confused when my smoke detector in my workshop went off. I naturally started looking around thinking it was a fire, but nothing was burning or smoking. When the detector stopped, I continued my gluing, and again the smoke detector when off. I then realized that the CA (cyanoacrylate) “super” glue was causing the smoke detector to go off. Does anyone know why this is happening? Am I using too much CA? It also gives off a strong odor. – Amy Nielsen
Tim Inman: CA definitely gives off fumes when it sets. “Why?” is a question better left to a chemist … and for that, we’ve asked Bob Behnke, a chemist at Titebond, to share his industry answer (see below). What I can add is this: Many of the materials and products we use in our “woodworking” shops are not actually wood. They are complex chemical compounds which release vapors that can be irritating and possibly harmful. The sawdust from them can cause skin irritations. We need to be careful with them all. Hooray for you to have a smoke alarm in your shop!
Bob Behnke: When cyanoacrylates come into contact with cotton, leather or wool, it can result in a rapid reaction or polymerization. The reaction is exothermic (gives off heat), and the heat can boil off the cyanoacrylate in the air, forming white smoke-like particles that that can drift and set off the alarm’s particle detector. Use a polyester or nylon cloth instead of a cotton one, and apply the glue in thinner coatings. (Bob Behnke is the technical service manager for Titebond products.