, , ,

Hot Glue Gun Safety and Making Moss Balls


According to my facebook and twitter friends, I am not the only one who gets burned EVERYTIME I use a hot glue gun. For this reason, I typically will hand sew, nail, or E-6000 something before I will use a hot glue gun. But, every once in a while, there is just no substitute for hot glue. For example, when working with faux flowers and moss, nothing beats hot glue.

So, this week I decided to put an end to hot glue gun burns!  I googled “Hot Glue Gun Safety” last week and learned a few tips about using a glue gun. If you are like me, you may do a head slap and feel pretty stupid after reading this post. If you are already the intelligent being who never gets burned when using hot glue, well then you can close your browser and I now bequeath you with a “genius” award. Now scram! For the rest of us, keep reading.

Dedication: I dedicate this blog post to my dear friend Sarah VMK! She and I were discussing all the burns I tend to get while using a glue gun and she remarked, “You really need to do a post about this.” So, here it is Sarah!

Remember to use EXTREME caution:

The most important thing to know about using a hot glue gun is that it is dangerous! Never mind that you can buy one for $5 or less and some of them look like they were made by the same company that makes McDonald’s happy meal toys.

Or that most of them do not come with instruction manuals. Treat this little “gun” like a power tool and use extreme caution when using it. Don’t let those dual temp glue guns fool you. “Low” temperature is still hot enough to burn you. Listen up y’all so we can say goodbye to glue gun burns FOREVER!

photo courtesy of HelloHayley

Proper tools:

When you get ready to use a hot glue gun, be sure you have these things close at hand.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

  • Heat resistant mat – a foil wrapped piece of cardboard, silicone mat or a cookie sheet will work fine
  • Needle-nosed pliers or tweezers for holding small objects
  • Popsicle sticks for pressing the glue down – Keep the popsicle stick in your hand so you won’t be tempted to use your finger
  • Bowl of ice water
  • Clean dry washcloth
  • Hot glue gun with dual temp (use it on low setting)
  • Extra glue sticks

There are also finger caps sold to protect your fingers if you are really concerned about safety.

Long vs. short power cord:

The power cord on my glue gun is not very long. It barely reaches to the nearest outlet. Don’t allow your cord to dangle in mid-air for someone to snag or trip on. Get an extension cord so that it can lay flat on the floor while you are working. This will also give you more reach while working with the glue gun.

If the cord does get snagged and your glue gun starts to fall over, resist all the temptations to grab it. Just let it fall (and hopefully it won’t land on you or anyone else.)


Your glue gun at rest:

Ideally, you want to rest your glue gun upright on a flat heat resistance surface. I use mine on this foil wrapped piece of cardboard. But, inevitably the gun falls over sideways. I used to instinctively try to stop it from falling. But, that is a burn hazard waiting to happen.

Now I just lay the glue gun on its side making sure that the hot tip is not touching anything. No more tipping glue gun.


Working with your hot glue gun:

Gather all your craft pieces together and make sure that they are within reach so you don’t have to lean over your glue gun to retrieve anything. Make sure all distractions, children, pets, etc. are out of your way. Remember, this is a dangerous tool!

Think about your project before you start. Are you going to put glue on the object or press the object into glue. What is the best procedure that keeps your fingers the furthest from the hot glue.

Squeeze hot glue onto the object you want to glue. For decorative moss balls, I decided it was best to drizzle hot glue onto a piece of moss.

Roll your ball or light bulb onto the moss. (That’s right, I mossed a light bulb! Hey, I had to find something to do with these bulbs leftover from the hollywood light fixture.) Be very careful to keep hands away from the moss.

Use a popsicle stick to press the moss to the ball (or lightbulb.)

As the bare spots get smaller, you may decide to add hot glue to the ball (err, light bulb.)

Lightly set the moss into the glue, then use a popsicle stick to press it firmly into the glue.


As long as you face the bulb base away from the viewer, no one would ever guess that it was actually a light bulb!

When working with smaller objects, DO NOT hold them with your fingers. It is best to put glue on the larger object and press the smaller ones into the glue. Pick up your small object with needle-nosed pliers or tweezers.

Place it, then use your popsicle stick to firmly press the small object into the glue.

If you absolutely have to put glue on a smaller object. Do not use your fingers or hands! Use the tweezers or pliers to hold it while you add the glue.

Okay – and I know – sometimes there is no substitute for using your fingers. If you decide to take the risk of putting your fingers in mortal danger, let the glue cool for a few seconds, then you can gently reposition the object as long as there is NO glue near your flesh.


If you do get burned:

Even the most careful preparation and concentration will not protect you from an occasional accident. So, think like the Boy Scouts, be prepared.

Keep a bowl of ice water nearby. If you burn your finger tips, dunk them in the ice water as soon as possible. Keep a washcloth at hand in case you burn your arm, leg or something that can’t be dunked in the bowl. Then you can wet the washcloth and apply it to the burn. It is crucial to cool down a burn as soon as possible to reduce the damage.


After your project:

Unplug your hot glue gun as soon as you are done with your project. Pick the cord up off the floor so no one can accidentally tug on it. Let your gun cool COMPLETELY before storing it away.

Inspect your glue gun periodically for signs of splits or breaks or signs of wear and tear. As soon as you discover any problems, discontinue using the hot glue gun and discard it. Remember, they are cheap and can be easily replaced! Your fingers will thank you.



39 replies
Newer Comments »
  1. Susan Johnson
    Susan Johnson says:

    Thank you for this post. I burned myself the first time I used a glue gun, and learned to fear its power.
    I use a coffee can to put it in when I want to set it down – nose in, and the handle pointing up. This helps contain the messy glue strings too (is that just me?). I don’t trust the little “stand” that looks like it’s made of paper clips.

    • Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl)
      Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl) says:

      Susan, thanks for your comment. And that is an excellent idea of what to do with the glue gun while “trying” to stand it up! I’m raiding the recycling now.

      And, nope you aren’t the only one who has the strings. If you can press down after gluing sometimes you can wipe the tip of the gun and eliminate the strings.


  2. Alice
    Alice says:

    Back in the 80’s I got my first hot glue gun. So many times after burning my fingers among other things, and the low temp glue guns came along I got one of the minis. It has been the best thing I could do for myself for my glue gun needs. It doesn’t melt things like the hot one does. I don’t know how many I have used up but my fingers don’t get burned to the point of having bad scars any more. The burn is not too bad with the low temp gun and I have the ice water handy also just in case. The last time I used my hot temp glue gun I was holding a lagre Florida pinecone in my left hand and glueing with my right. Holy smokes my ring finger and pinky fingers started burning and smelling so bad that I threw the pinecone away from my hand and rushed to the sink. If you have ever crafted with pine cones you know that the hot glue can leak through quickly as it did with me. It was bad enough for a trip to the doctor. I still have the scars to show for that mistake and it was the time I decided to buy the low temp. I can dab my finger in the icewater and touch the glue to press back into the project if any comes out due to pressing too hard without feeling any heat. 30 years of using a glue gun has made the low temp glue gun one of my favorite craft tools.

  3. Charlotte
    Charlotte says:

    Love the post on hot glue guns….gave me some good pointers…..I burned a big blister on my finger last week and I tried this….flour that I had put in a zip lock bag in my freezer…just put my hand down into the cold flour and it started immediately to relieve the pain…..I had a blister on my finger from the glue and I promise the next morning the blister was gone and no pain on the finger. I had been told about the flour in the freezer trick….but I thought they were crazy for telling me that “stuff”…..but it really works.

  4. Monique
    Monique says:

    Wow. What a nasty blister. Thanks for this tutorial. I think it’s something even I might be able to do. 🙂

    Read yesterday’s post. I hope your son is doing OK after the accident. That’s quite an ouchie.

  5. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    I need to add another gross glue gun story. My friends daughter was secretly playing with a glue gun in her room, and dripped hot glue on the top of her hand. She burned the skin off down to the fat layer (that’s the smooth white surface Sheila G. was talking about (shudder). The poor kiddo got a third degree burn, and lost the sensation in the area (luckily, because she would have been in horrible pain!). The first thing I said to my GF when she told me was ” I’m 40 years old and I have never used a glue gun without burning myself!” Not anymore, thanks 🙂

  6. SheilaG
    SheilaG says:

    Well, you didn’t ask for it, but here’s my gross glue gun story. I got a huge glob of hot glue on my thumb, just behind the nail- ran cold water over it and yanked the glue off. My skin came with it- I could see smooth white something underneath, I’ve often wondered since if I actually was seeing bone! It oozed for a couple of weeks before finally starting to regrow skin! :/ Glue guns are not for sissies- thanks for the skin-saving tips! 🙂

  7. Melinda KE
    Melinda KE says:

    I love the popsicle stick tip, I will have to try that! To keep my glue gun in good shape I always take a scrap sheet of felt, fold it in half, and wipe off the excess glue on the tip while it is still warm but unplugged…keeps your glue gun like new!

  8. e. McCord
    e. McCord says:

    I just discovered your website doing a random search on google for artist’s inspiration boards. I’m having fun looking around. I love a blog that has many pictures to go with their writing. The “Hot Glue Gun Helpers” was too funny, but probably wouldn’t be a bad addition to my art supplies.
    Great piece!!

  9. Sharon Huffman
    Sharon Huffman says:

    What a great post! Isn’t it funny how the simplest ideas sometimes slip right past us in our excitement to work on a new project? I felt very silly when I posted something online about losing my fingerprints after yanking the fabric that got hot glued to my fingers off. Several folks mentioned the popsicle sticks or bamboo skewers. Yes, I also had one of those “slap yourself upside the head” moments! Oh I ALSO LOVE YOUR PROJECT (oops, left capslock on!) Because I’ve got a bunch of those bulbs waiting to be repurposed!

  10. Felicia Kramer
    Felicia Kramer says:

    And – If you get glue on your finger whatever you do don’t put your finger in your mouth. You’ll end up with a burned finger AND a burned lip. I don’t know who could have been so stupid to do this … 😉


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

Newer Comments »

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.