Wheat starch paste is an adhesive used in many repairs at the Ullman Library. This paste usually comes in two varieties: pre-cooked and uncooked. Uncooked wheat starch paste must be heated (either via microwave or stove) to a specific temperature, stirred, and strained before use. It is easy to control consistency, freshness, and quantity with this type of adhesive.
Currently, we use pre-cooked wheat starch paste at the Ullman Library. This version of the adhesive is convenient and fast to put together. However, it can be lumpier and less fresh than uncooked wheat starch paste. It is important to to strain this paste when you are putting it together and make sure to store in an airtight container. Wheat starch paste will last up to a week in our refrigerator.
For more information on archival adhesives check out the article “Repairing Paper Artifacts” from the the Northeast Document Conservation Center.
To Make Wheat Starch Paste you will Need:
- A jar with resealable lid
- Wheat Paste Mix
- A Spoon
- Fine mesh strainer
Step 1: Add about 3 parts water to 1 one part of Wheat Paste Mix in the jar. Stir to combine. The paste should have a sticky consistency, but still be spreadable. Add more water or Wheat Paste Mix as needed.
Step 2: Stir paste thoroughly to remove lumps. Pour the paste through the strainer, pressing on the sides with the spoon to further remove lumps. Repeat this process as necessary. You will know that the paste is finished when it is smooth, translucent, and gel-like.
Step 3: Write the date of preparation on a post-it and put that on the cap of the paste jar. Keep in the fridge for up to a week. Wheat paste will begin to mold if kept any longer.
*Note: For delicate and rare materials it is best to use distilled water to make wheat paste. For our purposes, we have generally used tap water.