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There doesn't seem to be a lot of information regarding Sodium Silicate for use as a glue, at least that I've been able to find. I have talked with someone that has used it, but all I got was that I could have my local drugstore order it for me... I got a gallon of it from a local chemical supply, however they had quit stocking it and the product they gave me was very thin, and had been subject to freezing temps, which resulted in the separation of the components into liquids and solids which seem to want to remain that way.

Is there a specific product or type of waterglass product that I need to be looking for? Does it only come in liquid form? I don't need to preserve eggs here, just glue rocks to boards...

I would like to see some discussion on how to obtain, and utilize, sodium silicate as a temporary adhesive for mounting smaller specimens and temporary fixation for maximizing cutting of lapidary materials.

Let the discussion begin!


Alternative methods are welcome in this discussion, such as casting smaller nodules and lapidary specimens in masonry, plaster, etc, to enable clamping into a vice.
Donna N
A friend, Andy Fredericks of Appleton, WI, does a neat trick of taking a cardboard milk 1/2 gal carton, filling it with plaster and smaller rocks radomly letting them sink in the plaster while alternating filling the carton with plaster then stones & clamping the carton in the vice and just sawing into slabs. You get the whole stone cut this way and have allot of really cool slices for projects. Old trick but cheap and easy.
jay bates
I use water glass all the time to glue rocks to small pieces of 2x4s for slabbing. I get it at a local lapidary store for about $8.00 a pint. I really don't much about it except I find it quite useful and use it quite often. I have used plaster of paris in a milk carton for certain odd shaped rocks, but use the water glass more often because it is handy and simple to use. I prefer it to rock grabbers that can come loose and mess up a blade pretty quick.
Hi Jay

Can you expound on the product you buy? Manufacturer, Brand Name, MSDS, Specs, Etc? Does your lapidary shop do internet orders?
Procedure you use?

If yours is seperated, it's bad. Return it and either have them order you some fresh stuff, or shop somewhere else. Any pharmacy should be able to get it.

As far as using as a glue for rocks on wood to then cut, I've done it many times. Plain cheap white elmers glue works just as well, just takes longer to dissolve in water to recover that last chunk of rock from the 2x4, but it costs a lot less.

With waterglass, you need to use a lot to get a good grip on a larger piece of rock, usually takes me 2 applications. THe last thing I need is for the rock to come loose while being cut and ruin my blade. With Elmers glue, a little goes a long way.

I've also done the milk carton and plaster of paris trick, but found that the PP realy gums up mu oil and you have to clean and strain a lot more often. Waterglass or glue, no effect.

Another way is that hot melt glue. Works great for small and medium size stones. Just reheat lightly and the glue comes off. I usually use this for dopping difficult or irregular surface cabbing material.

jay bates
Hi Virgil,

I took a look at the bottle. It has no labels. I suspect they buy in bulk and make up the pint bottles for retail. The store is "Gems Galore" in Mountain View. They have a website but do not sell all their products on the internet, although you could send them an email and see what they have to say. The store was sold to a new owner a year or so ago. The old owner was easy to wheel and deal with, ie, I bought a 130 pound piece of diocrase from him for $40. I am not sure about the new owners. Here is their website:

As I previously indicated, I don't know to much about water glass except that I find it quite useful for slabbing.
Donna N
I agree you have more sludge from plaster of paris. When living in California (like the warm climate where you are Virgil) the Elmers glue on board worked like a charm. When I was into allot of sawing in cooler weathers it did not do so great here...had tendency to pop off boards much like a cab will do if glued and put in freezer....but Iam not cutting winter months now so guess I'll go back to Elmers glue......thanks for putting that out there to change my ways.
It seems any of the mentioned methods would work for one application or another. I would think that Elmers would work good if you have two flat surfaces to work with. Hot melt might work for irregular surfaces, but I probably would not trust it as it is somewhat flexible... Waterglass can be built up for round and irregular nodules and provides a solid, stable bond. It seems to me to be the perfect solution when working with materials such as plume agate from the Walker Ranch in SW TX. The "biscuits" are usually just that, biscuits, flattened round or ovate nodules that have to be cut along the flat plane. Not enough material to clamp into a vise, and too irregular to use Elmers or hot-melt.
I have used the PP method, way too much garbage in the oil, and it's not as stable in oil. Smaller, smooth skinned nodules tend to not stay bound to the PP once you have passed the apex of the embedded piece. The same for plume agate biscuits.

My dilemma is where to purchase the Sodium Silicate in the proper formulation...
Tom K
Hi Virgil,
I've had this web site bookmarked for a couple of years but never bought from them.
It may help you and I see they also have the MSDS available in the upper right hand corner.
Click Here

Tom K.
Try a different pharmacy. That's where I get mine in quart jars for about $16. Not all that I asked knew what it waa. I had to actually talk to the pharmacist to get it. The "assistants" didn't know and didn't care.

Hi Tom

Thanks for the link. I think I have checked that site before but I wanted to be certain of what to order before buying.


What is the viscosity of the stuff you buy? Is it a thick liquid? Type of pharmacy you get yours from? Local indepedent pharmacy or chain store? Not many independent pharmacies around anymore and trying to get one of these national chains to order something they don't usually carry is like asking for a pay raise...

Quote; What is the viscosity of the stuff you buy? Is it a thick liquid?

Yep. Thick like syrup.

Quote: Type of pharmacy you get yours from? Local indepedent pharmacy or chain store?

Local. But Wal-mart pharmacist said they'd order it for me too. I didn't want to wait, so went to a local, long time established pharmacy and they had it on the back shelf.

Kenneth Gossman
I also use water glass to hold the rocks onto a 2x4 to fit into my vise. I do get mine from the pharmacy and the lable is on them.The name on the lable is HUMCO and says it is out of Texarkana,Texas. Mine is a 30 ounce glass jar that cost me $15.10 a jump of $6.00 from the last jar.
Thanks for the info guys! I'm getting much closer to understanding the type of stuff I'm looking for. This information helps a great deal. I'll start checking the pharmacies in the area, someone is bound to have what I'm looking for, now that I know what to look for!

Any further info is still appreciated!

Jay Loch
Hey Virg, I never tried a drug store but around here I found it in an old hardware store. Interesting fact I heard, they used to coat chicken eggs with it, I thought it was to help preserve them but maybe it was used to help harden the shells?
Yep. It's how they used to preserve fresh eggs without refrigeration way back when. Sometimes you can find it as a product (expensive this way tho) called Kepegg. (keep egg). Still works today!

It's also used in the cardboard box industry as that glue you can never get to unstick.

Ask for it by the sodium silicate name, lots of folks toady don't list.know it as waterglass.

Thanks for all the good info and banter on this subject. I believe I have found a couple of local sources now that I'm sure of what I'm looking for.

Dean D. Welter
Hi Virgil, Don Peck gave me a link to a chemical supply house in my "Mineralogical testing supplies" thread. While perusing that site I came across Waterglass for sale. $12.75 per gallon seems like a fair price to me. Here's the link:

Hope that might be helpful.
KOR, Dean
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