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I know silicone for two things: its properties and its ability to harden when still in the tube, before use. Virtually everyone using it knows that after a while, it is necessary to cut the tip to remove the hardened part.

How can I extend its life before application? The number of available silicon types makes them very interesting, if they were usable a couple of years after opening (something basically every liquid glue allows).

Is the hardening happening only on the tip, or also on the back, the part pushed inside with the gun?

Do silicone variants with solvent and the ones without solvent (for example http://www.pattex.nl/dhz/producten/100-procent/100%25%20Universal.html I couldn't find one in English) work and harden the same way? Do they use humidity, light, oxygen, ... to cure?

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    If you're talking about Calking tubes, I have had good luck using a 2.5-3" lag bolt screwed into the cut tip. It really seals the tube, and provides a clear channel for unhardened sealant to pass. It doesn't work forever, but it works a lot longer than just taping or capping the tip. – JPhi1618 Nov 17 '15 at 18:42
  • I saw that more expensive brands provide a cap that fits tightly on the tip (and even has a thread). Would that be enough? – FarO Nov 17 '15 at 18:43
  • Related/duplicate: diy.stackexchange.com/questions/3988/… – Niall C. Nov 17 '15 at 18:45
  • In my (albeit limited) experience, the nice, screw caps are ok for days, maybe weeks, but the sealant in the tip still seems to start gelling. I guess it depends on the product... – JPhi1618 Nov 17 '15 at 18:45
  • @NiallC., Wow, 14 answers. That's a lot to choose from. – JPhi1618 Nov 17 '15 at 18:47
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Caulk Savers

Much like the bolt suggestion, I found these at a hardware store several years ago and have used them regularly. They are actually called caulk savers. Unfortunately, I don't recall exactly where I found them, but I have seen them around from time to time. I did use them to save some silicone at one point, but only for a few days, maybe a week or so. I doubt it would work any better than a bolt or screw. I don't have any scientific basis for the next thought, but my suspicion is that once silicone contacts air, it starts a slow irreversible curing process.

One other potentially useful bit of information I stumbled upon a while back was a tip for clearing a stopped up caulk tube nozzle. Simply take a utility knife and split the nozzle long-ways. Clear all the dried material from the split nozzle. Then just close it up and wrap it tightly with electrical tape. I have done this several times and it works great.

  • Splitting is a good idea. I think that also sealing somehow the back of the tube helps too. – FarO Nov 18 '15 at 9:58
  • I sealed the tip and the back with two layers of cellophane and in the back I also inserted a bag of silica gel. I'll see how it goes. – FarO Nov 19 '15 at 14:30
  • Silicone cures in contact with air. The further it progresses inside, the more difficult is for air to penetrate. As a matter of fact, I leave the tip mounted and when I need it I simply pull/push out the 1 cm end that solidifies. – FarO Jun 18 at 16:02
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Take a piece of aluminum foil, about 1" square, and put it (smoothly) over the opening of the mouth of the tip of the glue tube, and fold the rest of the foil down the sides of the tip. Then screw the cover back on the tip. This generally extends the life of the glue for a year or two, sometimes more.

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