Slime continues to be the most popular science experience among young children because it is easy to make and a lot of fun to play with. But what is it? And what science lessons can you actually learn from it?
Our quick primer on polymers is a great place to start. Once you understand what polymers are, it is easy to see what is happening with slime as you mix ingredients together and the chemicals make bonds.
In short, Slime is a kind of fluid that is neither solid or liquid. These types of fluids are called Non-Newtonian Fluids. They can be picked up like a solid but they are fluid like a liquid in your hands.
Slime is made from crosslinking happening with the polymers in ingredients that you mix together like glue and detergent or cornstarch. If you can imagine a big pile of paper clips tangled together then you have a good sense of what is happening when polymers crosslink.
The simplest recipe for slime has only a handful of ingredients that you can usually find around your home.
Basic Slime Recipe
- 5 oz of Elmer’s glue (one bottle)
- ¼ teaspoon borax powder (aka sodium tetra borate. It can be found in the laundry section of a store) or substitute with detergent warm water
- Pour ½ bottle or a full bottle of glue into a bowl (depending on how much slime you want to make) and mix with around a ¼ cup of water. (This is needed to make the glue more mixable).
- In a separate bowl, miss ¼ teaspoon of borax powder into ½ cup of warm water. Mix well. This is called activator because this is what makes the glue turn into slime!
- Add activator to the glue/water mixture at about a teaspoon at a time until you reach your desired texture. Be careful not to add too much or your slime will be too firm!
Glue and Borax are pretty common staples in slime recipes but if you rather not use these ingredients, here are some recipes for making slime without glue or borax.
Beyond the basics, it is really fun to play around with different textures like fluffy and stretchy by changing a few of the ingredients. Some ingredients have a foamy quality and so your slime might end of fluffy, others are soft and gooey like Shampoo or conditioner. Polymers are super flexible and are used in many applications because they can be modified into different textures and colors.
Some everyday items made of polymers that you may not have known are pot handles, food wrap, and plastic bottles.
Next time you are making or playing with slime pay close attention to how different ingredients react and help create different textures like fluffy or stretchy and see if you can invent your own.
Here a list of some of our favorite slime recipes for you to try!
How To Make Fluffy Slime
How To Make Stretchy Slime
How to Make Clear Slime
How To Make Edible Slime
How To Make Cloud Slime
How To Make Crunchy Slime
How To Make Jiggly Slime
How To Make Iceberg Slime
How to Make Butter Slime
How to Make Magnetic Slime
If you come up with a fun slime texture variation of your own, be sure to share in the comments below. We can’t wait to see you come up with!
To make sure your slime experiments are safe and less messy, here are a few other considerations:
How to Store Slime
To store slime for a long time, it is wise to invest in a good airtight container. Plastic bags will typically only keep slimes good for a short amount of time. In an airtight container, you can store your slime at room temperature and refrigeration is not needed!
Refrigerating your slime can actually harden it. If you are planning to make your slime last a while, it is a good idea to take it out of its container once in a while and knead it. Make sure when you close it up that it is completely sealed.
How To Soften Hard Slime
If your slime becomes hard or stiff after a long period of time, or because you have added too much activator, do not worry. There are still ways to try and salvage your slime.
- For slime that is over-activated, you can try adding a little bit of warm water, more glue, or lotion to your slime!
- For slime that is too stiff from sitting for too long, you can warm up some water and with a sealed lid on its container, soak the slime container in the hot water for some time to try and soften it up. If this doesn’t work, try kneading the slime for some time and add lotion or a small amount of water to your slime.
- If you plan on adding water to your slime, be careful about adding too much. It can be very difficult to try and dry your slime after this because fuzz from rags and paper towels will stick to your slime. When in doubt, knead it out.
Disposal and Removal of Slime
To dispose of your slime, you can just throw it away in the trash can. However, It is best to put your slime it into a plastic zip-loc or grocery bag, tie up the bag, and then dispose of the slime.
Remove Slime from Clothing
There are many ways to remove slime from clothing. An effective way is using vinegar, warm water, and ice. First scrape away as much of the slime as you can with your hands. Then apply ice to the slime to harden the remaining bits to peel those off.
If slime still remains, soak the clothes in warm water and use vinegar to remove. Machine wash as usual!
Remove Slime from Hair
There are two effective ways to remove slime from hair.
- The first is to wash hair with warm/hot water and use shampoo to massage slime out. Rinse and repeat until the slime is completely gone.
- Use oil (olive, coconut, whatever you have in your kitchen) to massage the slime out of your hair, then rinse and shampoo hair to remove oil and any excess slime.
Remove Slime from Carpet
To remove slime from carpet, all you need is warm water, vinegar and, possibly (if the slime has dried on the carpet), a soft-bristled brush such as a toothbrush. First scrape away as much of the slime as you can with your hands. Then soak the area with warm water and vinegar and use the brush to scrape away the rest of the slime.