Adhesive Tape

Why doesn't my tape stick in cold weather?

4 mins

There are many different forms of tape with multiple uses, for example, packaging tape, strapping tape, masking tape etc. The first variation of tape however was invented in 1845 by a surgeon called Doctor Horace Day who after struggling to keep material on patients’ wounds, tried applying rubber adhesive strips of fabric instead.

As useful as adhesive tapes are, the downside is that many tapes do not work properly if ideal conditions are not present. In this article, we explore why tape struggles to stick in cold weather and what can be done about the common issue.

Why doesn’t adhesive tape stick in the cold?

So, let’s get straight to it. Adhesive tapes performance issues become more severe in cold weather and even heavy-duty tapes can suffer in harsh weather conditions too.

This is because adhesive tapes consist of two components, solid and liquid. The liquid provides the stickiness or tack so that the tape achieves the initial contact, whereas the solid component helps the tape to resist force so it cannot be easily removed.

In cold weather conditions, the liquid component hardens and so the sticky tape not only loses the tack it has but also its natural form, resulting in the tape being unable to make the required contact needed to achieve the strong level of adhesion that is expected. In cases where the temperature continually drops, the tape will freeze, and the liquid component will turn into a tactless solid.

Some of the adhesive tape issues that can arise due to cold weather include:

  • Adhesive tape will not stick to the package properly
  • The tape becomes very brittle and dry
  • The tape has very little or no tack and so does not stick at all.

These issues are understandably frustrating for anyone as they result in waste of time and compromise the quality of the package.

Why does custom tape not stick in the cold?

This usually depends on the type of adhesive tape that is used. Most of the time, adhesive in the tape freezes well before the water freezing temperature is reached. But if a tape has been designed for these weather conditions, then it should continue to work even in the freezing temperatures.

It’s important to note that when cartons are being stored in colder temperatures before the tape has been applied, it is likely that the adhesive tape will also become brittle and lose its tack on the package.

E-Tape Gold

What can be done when your tape will not stick in the cold weather?

Standard adhesive tapes will freeze long before the freezing temperature of water is reached, while specially made tapes such as Solvent PP will continue to stick in cold temperatures.

If your tape is not sticking, this is what can be done:

1Increase temperature of the surface as well as the tape to 20 degrees Celsius. 

2. If storing the boxes and tape in the warehouse, move them to a warm environment and later on try and use the tape again. Sometimes it’s just a case of the box being too cold for the tape to stick on it.

3. Purchase a custom tape that has been specially designed and engineered to work in cold conditions.

If the first two options fail to work, you may be wondering what tapes do work in cold temperatures that you can switch to instead.

What tapes work in cold temperatures?

Ideally a solvent tape is the best performer in the cold for example, our E Tape Gold Solvent is a high performing tape with a strong solvent adhesive that can resist the cold temperatures and give an instant grab to all surfaces. This solvent tape resists humidity and temperature changes including freezer application.

Although not as good of a performer as Solvent tapes, Hot Melt adhesives can also be used in cold conditions, especially in industrial settings where temperatures can vary. Hot Melt adhesives we have at Swiftpak include:

  • SupaTak 150M (brown and clear) Tape: A hotmelt variation of our 150m range of SupaTak tapes. The aggressive hotmelt adhesive instantly bonds and sticks to all paper and board surfaces.
  • SupaTak Clear Machine Tape: Our classic high performance packing tape performs well through all temperature ranges including deep freeze and is resistant to splitting, abrasion, and moisture.
  • SupaTak Classic Clear Tape: an advanced multi-purpose tape that assures reliable performance in a number of environments and applications.

Adhesive Tapes from Swiftpak

At Swiftpak, we supply a wide range of tapes to suit the environment you work in. Contact our packaging experts today to discuss which tape works best for your packaging operations.