Two Letters Re: A Do-It-Yourself Denture Adhesive Formula

In answer to the recent query in SurvivalBlog about denture adhesives, Sea-Bond is an all natural wafer with [a very long shelf life–] no expiration. It sells for $5.99 for three boxes of 15 wafers each. It is the only thing I could find that would do. I’d stock up on these for long term use. – TD


Mr. Rawles,
This formula comes from a book that I have in my arsenal of survival books, entitled “Formulas, Methods,Tips and Data for Home and Workshop” by Kenneth M. Swezey (I can’t tell you how many times over the years we have used it but I had to buy an extra one just in case.)
He states “Most of the proprietary adhesives consist of just one or two common gums or a combination of them, with the addition of a trace of flavor”.

Here is his denture adhesive recipe:
Gum-Tragacanth-Powder 3 ounces (available most craft stores for cake decorating/check the grocer aisle in the cake mixes too)
Powdered Karaya gum 1 ounce (health food/herbal/supplement stores)
Sassafras Oil 35 drops (not available anymore because of health concerns and illicit use. Mrs. Foxtrot suggests peppermint oil, it is what she uses for our Toothpaste recipe)

Shake the two powdered gums in a dry wide mouthed bottle until thoroughly mixed. Add the oil and shake again until the oil has blended with the powders. Sprinkle sparingly on the denture and place in mouth.

Best wishes for Reader Bill T. – Mr. Foxtrot

JWR Replies: I’ve posted this solely for educational purposes. Consult your dentist! Beware of any formulas from old formulary books that pre-date modern food and drug safety regulations. I do not recommend experimenting with any chemicals that will contact human tissue. I’m only presenting this because the topic was in the context of a worst-case societal collapse. If anyone were ever to use such a formula in an emergency, then they should first test a very small contact area, both to test the adhesive’s its strength, and for gum or other tissue irritation. In this instance, it is quite important that if it is a partial denture that you make sure that it would not “over bond” or inadvertently bond to your teeth or other dental work!

Peppermint oil is a great essential oil to keep on hand. It is particularly useful for settling stomach upsets. (Just one drop on your tongue will do.) However, be forewarned that it is highly aromatic, so just few drops would probably suffice for the four-ounce formula that you cited.

As I’ve mentioned before, old formulary books are worth collecting. One of my favorite formulary reprints is Kurt Saxon’s book: “Granddad’s Wonderful Book of Chemistry”–primarily a reprint of the classic formulary “Dick’s Encyclopedia“, circa 1872. Saxon also assembled a dictionary of old fashioned chemical terms and synonyms and included it in the front of his reprint. This is worth its weight in gold. (Having an old formulary is great, but if you don’t know that “oil of mirbane” is now called nitro-benzene, then a lot of formulary knowledge verges on useless.) Kurt has some far-out political beliefs which, as a Christian, I find abhorrent. (Kurt Saxon is both an atheist and a eugenicist.) But if you skip past those rantings, all of his books are great references. I’ve heard that a few of his hard copy books are now out of print, but that they are all still available on CD-ROM.

OBTW, if you search through used book stores, you will occasionally find other old formulary book from the late 1800s. Buy them when you find them. They are treasure troves of useful arcana!

Special notes of caution on home chemistry: Use extreme care whenever working with chemicals–even when doing something as basic as making soap. Always wear full goggles, long sleeves, and gloves. Always work in a well-ventilated area. Wear a respirator mask, when appropriate. Always keep an A-B-C fire extinguisher handy. Keep an emergency eyewash bottle handy. When working with a chemical that could burn your skin, be prepared with a bucket of water (if appropriate) or the appropriate neutralizer. Never use any of your regular kitchen utensils, containers, or measuring instruments when working with chemicals. (Have a dedicated set, and clearly mark them as such!) Never work alone. Study reactivity tables, and always keep them in mind. Whenever working with anything flammable or potentially explosive material, always work with minute quantities for your experiments. Keep in mind that 19th Century safety standards were considerably more relaxed than today’s, so old formularies often omit safety warnings. Always remember that exposure to some substances such as lead, mercury, and carbon monoxide are insidious and cumulative. FWIW, I’m not putting forth all these strong warnings simply to cover my assets from a lawsuit. I really sincerely mean them, since I’ve “been there, done that”. As an over-exuberant teenage chemistry hobbiest I caught my hair on fire a time or two.