How Does Water-Activated Tape Work?

2 Ink Custom Printed Paper Tape

Water-activated tape an eco-friendly paper tape, or kraft tape, with an adhesive that is activated by – you guessed it: water. This water-activated feature sets paper tape apart from traditional self-stick pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) tapes, such as PVC or polypropylene. This article will break down how water-activated tape works, starting with a detailed description and the best uses for this specialized tape.

What is it water-activated tape? 

Water-activated tape is an eco-friendly and recyclable packaging solution made from paper. It’s most known for its high-strength, pilfer-deterrent fiberglass threads and permanent bond that requires you to rip open the tape rather than peel it off, as you would for traditional self-stick varieties. Once water activates the adhesive, water-activated tape bonds instantly to new or recycled cardboard or corrugate – even if they’re dusty or dirty. Many companies love that water-activated tape can securely close boxes in a single strip instead of many.

Custom printed paper tape on cardboard boxes

Water-activated tape is best used for sealing packages with:

  • New or recycled cardboard or corrugate 
  • Soft, loose goods rather than hard goods 
  • Heavy or overfilled cartons
  • Sensitive goods that require added security
  • Food products and pharmaceuticals that require odor-free and hygienic packaging

Next, let’s dive deeper into how water-activated tape works, so you’ll know what to expect from this high-strength packaging solution.

How does water-activated tape work?

Water-activated tape comes in a roll, just like any other tape. However, the adhesive will not activate until it comes into contact with water. To make water-activated tape work, you’ll need a tape dispenser – but not just any ordinary tape dispenser. Water-activated tape requires a specialized desktop machine that uses a brush to automatically moisten the adhesive side as you pull it from the roll.

Here’s how to activate and dispense water-activated tape:

  1. Fill the tape dispenser’s water reservoir with fresh, clean water.
  2. Load the water-activated tape into the dispenser, looping it so that the adhesive side is faced down.
  3. Feed the tape through the dispenser’s guide plates, preparing it for water activation.
  4. Set the dispenser’s lever to your desired length, up to 30 inches per pull.
  5. When you pull the lever, the brush inside the water reservoir will moisten and activate the tape’s adhesive.
  6. With the adhesive is activated, apply the water-activated tape to your package and gently smooth it to secure it into place.

How is water-activated tape different than self-stick adhesive tapes?

Water-activated tape is different than its self-stick counterparts in three primary ways: 

  1. It uses water to activate the adhesive instead of having a self-stick adhesive
  2. It requires a specialized dispenser to moisten and activate the adhesive and cut the tape 
  3. It is reinforced with fiberglass threads for strength, which must be cut open instead of peeled off

Now that you know how water-activated tape works, continue reading to discover some of the advantages of using this unique packaging solution.

What are the advantages of using water-activated tape?

If you’re considering water-activated tape, consider some of its many benefits:

  • Eco-friendly and recyclable
  • Reinforced with fiberglass threads for package strength and security 
  • Bonds easily to new or recycled cardboard, including dusty surfaces
  • Securely closes boxes with a single strip
  • Odorless and hygienic
  • Durable in many environmental conditions
  • Resists package pilfering and tampering 
  • The printable surface allows you to customize the design to align with your brand 

Our water-activated tape is available in tan or white and allows you to print up to three colors. We offer both 240 grade and Heavy Duty 260 grade strengths. How can we help you customize this tape for the ultimate packaging solution? Browse our easy-to-use online catalog or contact our sales and design professionals to design unique and affordable water-activated tape that highlights your brand while going easy on your budget.