Freezer Adhesive – What’s The Deal?

Choosing the correct label type for your application is critical in determining how the label performs for your operation.

If the label type you choose is not built for cold environments, it might not stick immediately and may fall off the box after the label is applied. Additionally,  the adhesive might actually freeze and cause the label to fail. While the adhesive is critical, so is the application process. There are a few things you must  consider when applying your freezer labels in cold temperatures (other than just the adhesive). You can find all of those tips in this Guide to Cold Label Application.

There are three main types of adhesives to consider when deciding which label your company needs: hot melt, emulsion acrylic, and solvent adhesive.

  • Hot melt freezer adhesive is a rubber based adhesive that offers a very high initial tack. This allows the label to have an almost instantaneous wet out time that performs very well in subzero temperatures.

  • Emulsion acrylic adhesive is an economical choice for labeling your corrugated cardboard boxes. Featuring a good initial tack and a wide temperature service range, it’s commonly referred to as an “all-temp” adhesive due to its versatility.

  • Solvent adhesive is a permanent adhesive designed for plastics and glass. This adhesive can withstand very cold temperatures (such as blast freezing or in cryogenic lab conditions), autoclaving, and other demanding lab conditions. A synthetic label is generally required when using solvent adhesives.

Adhesive Wet Out Times

Regular acrylic and standard-grade hot melt adhesive are generally good for anything with a wet-out time (how long the adhesive has to work its way into the fibers of the box) of 20-30 minutes. This gives the adhesive time to absorb into the fibers of the box and create a strong, permanent bond.

For boxes that are either being moved into a freezer within a relatively short period of time or labeled inside of a freezer, typical standard grade adhesives might not perform well. This is where freezer adhesive grade labels come in. They have a very high initial tack to the adhesive so it forms a strong bond on cold boxes, uneven surfaces, and plastic wrap.

The substrate that the label is being applied to is quite significant when choosing one adhesive over another.

Freezer adhesives out-perform standard-grade adhesive on frozen surfaces, metal drums, and plastic wrap. These labels have a very high initial tack and are better suited for sticking onto surfaces where traditional adhesives do not perform as well.

Our freezer adhesive is a rubber-based hot melt adhesive that is specially formulated to stick well in cold-chain supply environments. If you use a ribbon when printing, here is a link to our stock freezer grade thermal transfer labels.  For those customers that don’t use ribbon, we also stock freezer grade direct thermal labels.  We have both paper and polypropylene options available in our freezer grade adhesive. 

If you need some more assistance in your purchasing process, you can check out our freezer label buying guide or feel free to contact any of our sales representatives at 800-875-7000.