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How to Remove Old Adhesive (Glue, Epoxy or Cement) From Broken Ceramic?


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Broken Ceramic Repair Lessons
(click pictures)

Fixing broken plate lesson - basic lesson
Cementing only lesson
Fixing broken vase - more complex repair
Restore vase lesson
Cementing, filling, coloring and glazing broken antique plate
Restore plate lesson including coloring
kintsugi - mending broken pottery with gold
Kintsugi - mending with gold
How to repair crack in ceramic
How to fix ceramic crack
Restoring multi breaks and missing piece antique bowl
Restore bowl lesson w/ missing pieces
How to paint broken china, ceramic or pottery?
Painting pottery after repair
Restoring ceramic sculpture with missing pieces using fired clay
Sculpting missing pieces
Cybis Arion Boy on Dolphin - Repair Broken and Missing Finger
Miniature repair w/ missing finger
Restoring ceramic sculpture with missing pieces using fired clay
Making missing part w/ fired clay
Repairing broken plaster of paris tall lamp
Plaster lamp repair w/ missing parts
Restoring small porcealin figurines - shoe
Miniature Porcelain
Repairing broken stone sculptures and statues
Repairing broken stone sculpture

Lakeside Pottery is a ceramic studio and a restoration facility. Many people ask us for advice and one of the questions is "How to remove old cement? Below are some of the practices we use.


What kind of cement was used and you wish to remove

One part cement such as Contact Cement or Super Glues are dissolvable. Two-part Epoxies are not dissolvable and can be removed with heat or scraped / grinded down. In most cases, it is impossible to visually tell which type of cement it is. Using a sharp object, poke the old adhesive. If it is flexible, it is most likely not Epoxy and can be dissolved. If it is hard, it is most likely Epoxy or Super Glue.



Recent job with adhesive that required removal (click to see it repaired)


How to Remove Old Adhesive From Ceramic or Pottery?

If it is Super Glue, it can be dissolved with Acetone (or nail polish remover). Before applying the Acetone make sure you do a small test on your ceramic object to verify that it will ruin your item. Acetone will instantly damage any polymer based product (paint, varnish, plastic). If your test passed, apply the Acetone on the cemented area generously following all the safety instructions for using Acetone (e.g., ventilated area, use gloves and eye protection).

If it is not Super Glue or Epoxy, use solvent such as Paint Thinners, Alcohol or Goof Off. There are more hazards when using these-- pay careful attention to the safety precautions on the labels.

If it is Two part Epoxy, heat with a heat gun or boil in water. Again, run a small test to insure the repaired item will not be damaged by water or heat. When heating the ceramic in water, do not drop the item in boiling water to avoid cracks due to thermal shock. Place to ceramic object in room temperature water and start the heating with the object in the water. After it is boiled for 2-3 minute, inspect the object to see if the cemented parts are separated. If yes, use mittens to hold the hot item and with a razor blade, while hot, remove the remaining epoxy.

If the epoxy is no breaking down with boiling water or a heat gun, a high temperature epoxy was used which leaves you with two options: 1) Fire in a kiln to 500 - 600 degree F using a very slow temperature rise program although often additional damage occurs due to the high temperature and we stopped using high heat - just too risky. Or, 2) Grind off the high temperature epoxy using a high speed diamond burs. See common example below:

Using Dap, silicone adhesive made by Dow-Corning is nontoxic, its clear and strong and withstand boiling temperature or greater so why it is a bad idea in some cases?

​We had several items that came to us to implement proper seamless restoration where Dow-Corning Dap adhesive was used previously. It did hold well as long as long as hiding the repair lines is not required. It is not sandable or paintable. Therefore, separation of the broken pieces and removal of the silicon adhesive was required prior to proceeding with a seamless repair process. -- and here where the problem starts. To reverse the repair that was using Dap (or equivalent) often cost more than the repair it self. It can not be removed with solvents, or heat without risking destruction and the only safe remaining option is cutting and grinding. Grinding / cutting removes the silicone adhesives but it also removes some of vessel's material which effect the broken pieces fit requiring more fill, more sanding, more painting, thus, higher cost. Worst case scenario is when the silicone adhesive was used with porous material such as terracotta. The silicone adhesive soaks in the material porous surface and the full depth of penetration needs grinding further reducing fit, thus, increasing restoration cost. So, if the item you are repairing is valuable or important, be aware of the above.

Old Adhesive Removal Process - Example:

broken pottery
Broken Pottery w/ old cement

Old epoxy heated / separated
mixing 2 parts clear epoxy glue
Applying Goof Off
slow cure 2 part epoxy
Scraping with wire brush
crazy-glue-supper-glue-CA
Alcohol for clean up
Mixing epoxy glue
Alcohol applied for surface prep


Broken Ceramic Lid
Glue solvent

Clear 2-part epoxy
Stronger glue solvent

crazy-glue-supper-glue-CA
Alcohol for clean up

crazy-glue-supper-glue-CA
Dremel for grinding epoxy

crazy-glue-supper-glue-CA
Diamond grinding bits

How to remove old epoxy from old pottery or china
How to remove stains?

Your input is greatly appreciated and will help in creating improved pottery tips.

Thank you, Patty and Morty

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