You’ve seen it clumped in your child’s hair and drying out in gooey globs on your countertop. It’s slime. You may have even made it with your child, then cursed your fun-loving nature after finding it caked in the carpet. But what is this mysterious substance known as slime really made of and is it safe for your kids?
There are seemingly endless varieties, colors, textures of slime, not to mention recipes. It’s generally regarded as a harmless pastime for kids — that’s why it’s one of the most common art projects in preschools. But there are some facts you may want to know.
What You Should Know About Common Slime Ingredients
The stickiness of slime can certainly catch germs and who-knows-what-else off of hands, floors, concrete and anything with which it comes into contact. That may not be the slick substance’s dirtiest secret.
Borax, a product used to disinfect laundry and reduce odors in clothing, is one of the most common ingredients in traditional slime recipes. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has noted borax can have adverse health effects with regular exposure, including skin rash, vomiting, nausea, respiratory problems and eye irritation.
When used for cleaning purposes, borax is generally considered safe as long as used as directed. Borax is most dangerous when it is consumed orally or inhaled. It can also be harmful if skin is exposed to large amounts over a long period of time.
Assuming you and your kids aren’t inhaling or eating borax, you should be fine. Just use your common sense and make sure your kids know that slime is for playing — not consuming.
If borax gets into eyes, rinse them out thoroughly and call your physician. If your child accidentally eats borax or borax-containing slime, you should immediately call the American Association of Poison Control at (800) 222-1222.
Borax might be the most common ingredient used in slime, but there are plenty of DIY putty recipes that are borax-free. Some even omit glue in favor of completely natural ingredients like cornstarch, psyllium powder, chia or flaxseeds. Searching for safe slime recipes with your child can be fun. You can even try edible recipes made with Kool-Aid, Nutella, or sweetened condensed milk.
As with any art project, supervise kids and make sure they handle ingredients safely. You may want to instruct them to wear gloves and to avoid touching their eyes or mouths after handling the material. It probably goes without saying, but if your child starts to develop red, peeling skin or other symptoms after handling the goo, remove it from their grip and contact your physician.
With safety concerns in place, concocting slime is a fun and educational experience the entire family can enjoy. Hooked on playing with the stuff? Look for a slime museum experience coming somewhere near your hometown soon.