Testing glues and silicones was the worst part of building my tiny house since I did this when I was highly sensitive. Many days were spent sick to my stomach, not sleeping, and having heart palpitations.
OK, let's get to it.
We are limiting the use of glue in my tiny house, and it might be possible to avoid it completely, but that's not ideal.
I smelled them wet and they were all bad wet. I only tested a few dry. When wet, the worst reactions were heady and dizzy, when dry they were hard to get a read from - it's difficult to extrapolate a small jar of dry glue to a house filled with it. (In retrospect I would have tested a much larger dry sample.) I smelled them wet because I got a clearer sign of their relative effects on me. Since I have not figured out a better way to test materials that's all I'm working with.
So here are the contenders:
Gorilla Glue - Got pretty dizzy, not good, but not terrible. Seems OK when dry. (Easy to find at hardware stores.)
Elmer's Wood Glue - Not good. Didn't test dry. (Carried at hardware stores.)
|The best of the wood glues|
RONA brand ECO white glue - Not good wet, didn't test dry. (Carried at RONA.)
Titebond - This is a brand that is recommended for MCSers. I had already picked Roo Glue before I got a chance to test it. I do know people that build for the chemically sensitive who use this brand. (Online or at speciality building stores like Greenworks, Vancouver.)
ECOS Wood glue - Check this out if you are in the UK or Australia. I didn't test it. (Not available in North America.)
I've caught wind of totally natural glues made from hide (not waterproof) and something being developed from sea creatures, that one sounds great....but until then....good luck.
While silicone itself is not toxic, something is clearly added to keep caulking in liquid form. For silicone caulks look for 100% silicone and a low-VOC claim. The replacement silicones are much more tolerable and Eco-bond does claim zero-VOC. They were all smelly when wet, and I tested them at 24 hours, 48 hours and one week. I would recommend getting a non-sensitive person to put them in jars and only testing them after they have dried. Note that silicones labeled bathroom or mildew resistant contain a mildewcide (except the Eco-bond bathroom caulk).
|The worst of the Silicones|
Eco-Bond - This is my top pick. These are all zero-VOC. I tested this much later than the others, but I can say that this is another really great caulk. At least as safe as AFM with better bonding. It comes in white and clear. It is the only zero-VOC clear caulk that I know of. They are not silicone.
GE Silicone II Clear Caulk - This may a better choice for the exterior. It was not as good at one week as AFM or Ecobond. We used this on the underbelly of my house. It is low-VOC.
Aquarium Caulk - I have read that aquarium caulk is the least toxic because fish are exposed to it and they can't handle chemicals. I tested two brands, Aquarium Silicone Caulker and one called Marina from a local pet food store, they were much more expensive than brands for home use (for no reason), and they were both the worst of the worst. So bad I would not recommend testing or using these brands.
The best adhesive I have ever tested is AFM Safecoat Almighty Adhesive. I had absolutely no problem and no reaction to smelling it while it was wet. This was a pleasant surprise after all the other glues and silicones. I will use this to install my shower. A whole post is devoted to the custom chemical-free shower.