Homemade slime is “the thing” these days. My daughter and her friends watch YouTube videos online and post pictures on Instagram of their slime creations. It’s not unusual for me to find the kitchen cluttered with bowls upon bowls filled with shaving cream, glue, food dye and Borax.
But are the ingredients in homemade slime actually safe?
I read an article recently stating that homemade slime may be damaging kids’ health. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) warns: “(Borax) may damage fertility or causes serious eye irritation.” They also state that anyone exposed to high levels of borax may give birth to babies with faulty genes later in life. Health Canada has found that overexposure to boric acid has “the potential to cause developmental and reproductive health effects.” And a pediatrician was quoted as saying “too much Borax can lead to medical problems including things like seizures.” YIKES. But what exactly are “high levels” of borax? And how is it toxic – by breathing its dust? From absorption into the skin? By tasting it?
I set out to find recipes that do not use Borax, thinking that was the answer. This is what I found:
Slime made with just cornstarch is not slime. According to my daughter, this is oobleck, which is not slime. Oobleck has properties of both liquids and solids. You can slowly dip your hand into it like a liquid, but if you squeeze it or punch it, it will feel solid. It’s cool – but it’s not slime.
Slime made with liquid starch contains the same ingredients. I thought this was the answer, having found recipes for so-called “safe slime” using liquid starch. The slime, which was made with glue, liquid starch, water and food coloring, was deemed a success. My daughter described it as “stretchy, more like putty.” And it looks good with or without glitter. However, upon close inspection, I discovered that the active ingredient in liquid starch is the same active ingredient in powdered Borax: sodium tetraborate.
Slime made with eyewash or contact lens solution. My daughter’s friend makes her slime with contact lens solution. The active ingredients are: Boric acid and sodium borate. Borax and boric acid are not the same, but they are from the same boron family. Boric acid (also called orthoboric acid) is used to kill roaches… and is used in contact lens solution? Odd. I can’t imagine eye drop solution or contact solution as being harmful, however, it is pricey (even the store brand) so for that reason, I didn’t even consider it.
Slime made with shampoo and body wash. Was a complete FAIL. The only ingredients were shampoo and body wash – no Borax, no glue, no liquid starch or eye drops. It had the consistency of batter.
Slime made with nail polish. Can you imagine the smell? Even the person posting the recipe declared that it gave her a headache.
Slime made with diaper crystals. Sorry, not buying diapers just to make slime. And diaper crystals are made with toxins that, upon reading about further, made me regret ever putting disposable diapers on my kids.
Metamucil slime. Just the idea is off-putting, and so is the price.
And all of these recipes contained either borax or liquid starch. So what’s the verdict? I’m guessing that in moderation, borax or liquid starch are okay to use… but I still don’t feel comfortable with my daughter using them to make slime and neither is she. I’m going to encourage her to move on to another craft obsession. Preferably one that won’t mess up the kitchen with bowls of sticky goop and powder.
Do your kids make homemade slime?
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