How does water activated paper tape work?

water activated paper tape box

We've been selling water activated tape (also known as WAT or gummed tape) for a bit over two years now, and are pretty chuffed to be the first, and still the only manufacturer who's printing on this type of tape in Australia. Water activated tape is still relatively new in Australia, and we're asked all types of questions from people trying to determine if it may be suitable for their business.

Here's a few considerations if thinking of making the switch from poly tape to water activated paper tape.

What is water activated paper tape?

On the face of it, water activated tape or gummed tape as it's also known is a pretty straitforward product. This type of packing tape is made of paper (usually either kraft/brown or white) and a vegetable based adhesive made from potato starch.

Some paper tape also includes strands of fibreglass to add additional strength for heavier parcels. Non-reinforced tape has the benefit of being easier to recycle, and is suitable for parcel weights of up to an impressive 15kgs, which is strong enough for most small businesses. 

When water is applied to the back side of water activated tape, a chemical reaction occurs creating a strong physical bond with the cardboard carton.

paper tape dispenser 

How do I use water activated paper tape?

Most people in Australia are used to using poly tape to seal boxes. Paper tape in comparison can take a bit of getting used to. With all custom paper tape sold at Woodruff and Co, we include a dehydrated sponge which is the easiest and most basic method for activating the tape. Simply cut your tape to size, wet the sponge under a cold tap and wipe across the back side of the tape. You'll want to quickly apply to your carton before the tape sticks to something else!

Other methods involve using a spray bottle to dampen the tape, or if you're selling in greater volumes, a water activated paper tape dispenser is a great investment. There's basic desktop models, or more complicated electric tape dispenser options. Pick the option that's right for your budget and the volume of parcels you're planning to send. 

We use the BP-333 here at Woodruff and Co HQ. Made by Better Packages it's a great dispenser and they claim it's the world's #1 paper tape dispenser.

Why should I choose paper tape over poly tape?

 1. Great for small budgets

Custom water activated paper tape can be produced with a minimum of just one roll! That makes it super affordable to test out and see if it's right for you. We offer pricing that reduces with larger quantities, plus increased design options and savings for bulk paper tape purchases.


2. Secure seal

When water activated paper tape comes in contact with water and then applied to a box it bonds with the surface creating a permanent seal. This is great for making packages tamper resistant, and also helps to reduce damage in transit.  


3. Super strong

When applied correctly, paper tape can seal cartons weighing up to 15kgs. That's pretty impressive for a thin strip of paper, and stronger than other plastic tape options.


4. A better choice for the environment

 By far, one of the biggest reasons we see people make the switch from petroleum based poly tape to paper tape is the environmental reason. Paper tape is made from a sustainable resource (paper) and also recycles with other paper and cardboard in curb-side recycling. For businesses who are looking to decrease their plastic use, paper tape is an excellent option, plus creates a strong statement for your customers.


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