Slime continues to be the most popular science experiment 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?
Basic Slime Recipe
- 5 oz of Elmer’s glue (one bottle)
- ¼ teaspoon borax powder (sodium tetraborate- 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 about ¼ cup of water. (This is needed to make the glue more mixable).
- In a separate bowl, mix 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 in your activator to the glue mixture 1 teaspoon at a time until you reach your desired texture. Make sure to stir often. Be careful not to add too much activator, or your slime will become too firm!
Glue and Borax are pretty common staples in slime recipes, but if you’d rather not use these ingredients, here are some recipes for making slime without glue or borax.
What is the science behind it?
Our quick primer on polymers is a great place to learn about the science behind slime. 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 non-newtonian fluid, neither a solid or liquid. These bonds 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. Beyond the basics, it is really fun to play around with different textures by changing a few of the ingredients. Some ingredients have a foamy quality, so your slime might end up 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.
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. 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 what you come up with!
Other Favorite Slime Recipes
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, it is a good idea to knead it once in a while.
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 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, soak the slime in a sealed container of hot water to 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 into a plastic zip-loc or grocery bag, tie up the bag, and then dispose of the slime.
How to Remove Slime from Clothing
One effective way to remove slime from clothing is by 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.
How to Remove Slime from Hair
There are two effective ways to remove slime from hair.
- Wash hair with warm/hot water, and use shampoo to massage the 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 hair, then rinse and shampoo hair to remove oil and any excess slime.
How to 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.
If your girl loves to experiment with the ooey gooeyness of slime, hang on to this guide; you’ll be set with all the slime recipes you can imagine and the remedies to its potential messiness!