Difference Between Adhesive and Cohesive

The terms "adhesive" and "cohesive" are used to describe the characteristics of materials. The ability of a substance to attach to another surface is referred to as adhesive, whereas the ability of a substance to attach to itself is referred to as cohesive.

Read this article to find out more about Adhesive and Cohesive and how they are different from each other.

What is Adhesive?

A substance that is used to attach or join two surfaces together is known as an adhesive. Adhesives come in a number of forms, including liquids, pastes, films, and tapes. They are categorized depending on their chemical composition, curing mechanism, and method of application.

To make a connection, reactive adhesives, also known as chemically curing adhesives, require a chemical reaction to occur between the adhesive and the surface of the substrate. These adhesives frequently require heat or pressure to activate the curing process. Reactive adhesives include epoxy, polyurethane, and cyanoacrylate adhesives.

Non-reactive adhesives, often known as physically curing adhesives, create bonds without requiring a chemical reaction. These adhesives harden or cure through a physical process such as solvent evaporation or the cooling of a hot- melt adhesive. Pressure-sensitive adhesives and hot-melt adhesives are examples of non-reactive adhesives.

Adhesives can also be categorised according to how they are used. Some adhesives must be applied using specialised equipment or techniques, whereas others can be applied with basic methods such as brushing, rolling, or spraying. Spray adhesives, brushable adhesives, and adhesive films are all typical application methods.

What is Cohesive?

The ability of a substance to stick to itself is referred to as cohesion. This feature is connected to the intermolecular forces that exist between a substance's molecules. Molecules in cohesive materials are attracted to one another, forming a strong internal link that holds the substance together.

Water, mercury, and different polymers such as silicone and polyethylene are examples of cohesive materials. These materials contain high intermolecular interactions that bind the molecules together even when no external force or adhesive is present.

Cohesive materials can also be used to prevent a product from flowing or spreading. Cohesive bandages, for example, are used in medical applications to wrap around a wound or injury to provide compression and support. The bandage's cohesive nature helps it to attach to itself and form a tight seal around the damaged area.

A material's cohesive characteristic is also significant in defining physical properties such as viscosity and elasticity. A substance with high cohesion, for example, will have a high viscosity, which means it will flow more slowly than a substance with low cohesion. A substance with high cohesiveness will also have high elasticity, which means it may stretch and deform before breaking.

Difference between Adhesive and Cohesive

The following table highlights the major differences between Adhesive and Cohesive −





Reactive and non-reactive adhesives

Cohesive materials are not typically classified into types.


It is applied to a surface to join two materials together.

It does not involve joining two materials.


Used to join two surfaces together.

used to prevent the flow or spread of a substance

Physical Properties

Viscosity and elasticity are determined by the type of adhesive used.

Viscosity and elasticity are inherent in cohesive materials.


Epoxy, polyurethane, and cyanoacrylate adhesives

Water, mercury, and various types of polymers

Bond Strength

It depends on the type of adhesive used.

Depends on the cohesive strength of the material.

Curing Mechanism

Reactive or non-reactive

Not applicable


It is used in construction, manufacturing, and product design.

important in determining physical properties and in medical applications


The differences between adhesive and cohesive properties are based on the nature of the attraction between molecules or substances. Adhesion is the ability of a substance to stick to another surface, whereas cohesion is the ability of a substance to stick to itself.

Adhesives and cohesive materials are used in a variety of industries and applications, including construction, manufacturing, and product design. Understanding the properties of these materials can help in the selection of the best materials for particular tasks and the performance of products.

It is possible to create strong and persistent bindings across materials or within a single substance by selecting a suitable adhesive or cohesive material for the task. In the long run, this can lead to higher product quality, increased efficiency, and cost savings.

Updated on: 15-May-2023


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