Kids love slime. Unlike fidget spinners, fidget cubes and respecting your elders, slime seems to have stuck around longer then the other kid fads. And I yes I do literally mean stuck around. That stuff gets everywhere and it’s easier to burn the house down or throw out the carpet then try and clean it off. Thing 1, in particular is a huge fan. When asked “Would you like to do something together?” her go to answer is “Can we make slime!!”.
There’s vlogs about making it, youtubers who vlog about watching it being made and even vloggers who make youtube videos about vloggers who vlog about making it. And despite having to sit through all of these videos we are yet to actually make a decent batch of slime that looks like anything those the online maestros have created!
Not today though. This post is dedicated to all the parents failing miserably at making slime. Today we rise up and finally work out how to make slime. The perfect slime, slime that will last, slime that we can be proud of, slime that may slowly be chemically poisoning us but more importantly, Slime that will buy our children’s love.
Whats actually happened
Working through the science of the slime is fairly straightforward. What you need to do is take a material that is a polymer (one that contains long chains of polyvinyl acetate molecules that slide about a lot) and mix it with an activator to create ‘cross-linking’. This is where the ions from the activator mix with the molecule chains in the polymer and make them a bit stickier and stop all the sliding about it. That all sounds complicated but if you consider that the polymer is just PVA glue and the activator is something that contains Sodium Borate, which in our case is Optrex eye wash, then it’s way easier than you think. Throw in a bit of food dye or glitter for added effects and it all gets very exciting.
The best recipe we’ve been able to work with is similar to the one on the BBC good food site here: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-make-slime
They also detail a lot of little tweaks you can do to make some fun variations on the standard slime (like fluffy slime or unicorn slime!)
The key ingredients are:
- PVA Glue,
- Bicarbonate of Soda
- Food colouring
- Optrex eye wash.
The Optrex was the easiest, off the shelf activator I could find. Quick check on the ingredients ensured it contained Sodium Borate (WE ARE ALL SCIENTISTS NOW). We had made the mistake in one of our earlier experiments to use a saline solution but it was missing the killer ingredient and went down as an epic slime fail.
Things 1 and 3 were the main participants in this activity. They both loved getting their hands right in about it. Thing 2 HATES having his hands sticky so didn’t want to be involved in the mixing process at all. It was a good exercise for Thing 1 in patience and measuring properly and understanding the impact the different measurements have to the consistency of her slime. In previous experiments Thing 1 would add random amounts of the ingredients together and if it didn’t become slime immediately she would start looking for extra magic ingredients to try and fix it “DAD! Do we have any playdough?”
We destroyed a lot of plastic containers in pursuit of the the perfect slime so I would definitely recommend having mixing containers available just for this activity. Thing 1 loves keeping her slime in little tupperware pots so I always try and make sure I have a set of those available too. This helps the slime last a little bit longer and also reduces the risk of slime dropped or trodden into the carpets!
So Thing 1 loves this activity and would do it every chance she could if I’d let her so it’s a definite 5 out of 5 from her. Thing 3 gets a real kick out of it too because she’s getting to play with her big sister, she’s making a great big mess and gets to have goo all over her hands so a 4 out of 5 for her feels appropriate. Although Thing 2 doesn’t like the mess he is always keen to play with the finished product so it’s a 2 out of 5 for him. That gives us an average just under 4 out of 5 for our slime time activity.
We successfully made slime and now have clear steps to follow every time we want to. The activity of creating it all was fun enough for the Things but the fact you have a new toy at the end of it is a real bonus. I still don’t get how or why but the Things will sit and play with their slime happily for hours after it’s made. Definitely an excellent activity when you want to keep everyone indoors and the ingredients can easily picked up for less than 10er.