Hide glue that can remain liquid at room temperature has been around for over 150 years and is the very best easy to use liquid glue on the market. Now its bigger brother Hot Hide Glue is the finest glue in the world and has been around for over 30,000 years.
The discussion is liquid hide glue, made by adding anti gelling agents to hot hide glue to allow it to remain liquid under normal conditions. With these additives, the glue begins to break down through a chemical process that I will not go into here. I do go into it in great detail in my forth coming book The Hide Glue Book. This puts a shelf life on the admixture and early recipes indicate a 2 year shelf life.
Modern manufacturers of liquid hide glue are Partick Edwards Old Brown Glue (excellent in my opinion) and Franklin/Titebond, which is better than any other liquid glue on the market. There is a fish glue out of Canada (Lee Valley) that is also a fine quality glue with a fast tack. The latter has a longer shelf life but the two previous will have expiration dates on them, generally 12 months after manufacture.
And under ordinary circumstances, I follow those expiration dates, my glue is always gone before that time comes up. However lately I have discovered something that got me thinking, and you know where that leads. I had got a couple gallons of glue from a friend that buys 5 gallon buckets of liquid hide glue for veneering. It was in another bucket but in a building that was not heated.
The glue was difficult to get out of the bucket, I had to use a putty knife, then thaw the glue, but after the above test, low and behold, it passed and I finished using up the stuff, with no problems. I did a failure test and it was failure of substrate, not failure of adhesive bond. The wood broke, not the glue.
The test is placing a drop of liquid hide glue on your thumb or index finger and touch them together repeatedly. If it is fresh then the webbing, cottening or legging will occur. If not the glue has expired and is only good for crackle paint finishes or it can be diluted and put in the garden, high in nitrogen.
If you find you are throwing away a half a bottle of liquid hide glue that has expired, then first thing when you get a freshbottle is to pour off half and freeze it, then use up the other half, then thaw out and use what is left. By freezing the liquid hide glue, it slows down the chemical process of degradation caused by the gel suppressants. What other glue can you freeze?
And of course I couldn’t go without saying that Hot Hide Glue and Liquid Hide Glue are the only glues that should be used in woodworking. The others are merely cheap petrochemical imitations of real glue. Modern yellow and white glues should never be used on good furniture or woodwork. Hide glue is the best glue in the world.