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, and then cursed your loving nature after finding it caked in the carpet. But what is this mysterious substance and is making slime really safe for you and your kids?
There are seemingly endless varieties, colors and textures of slime — which some people call putty or silly putty. There are also many different recipes for making your own slimy concoctions at home. 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 it comes into contact with. That may not be the slick substance’s dirtiest secret.
Borax is one of the most common ingredients in traditional recipes. Why is that such a big deal, when borax is commonly used to disinfect laundry and reduce odors in clothing? The National Institutes of Health has noted that borax can have some adverse health effects when there is regular exposure. This may include skin rash, vomiting, nausea, respiratory problems, eye irritation — the list goes on.
DON’T PANIC! Those are extreme cases. When used for cleaning purposes, borax is generally considered safe as long as you use it as directed. Borax is most dangerous when it is consumed orally or inhaled. It can also be harmful if your skin is exposed to large amounts of it over a long period of time.
If borax gets into your eyes, rinse them out thoroughly and call your physician. If your child accidentally eats borax or borax-containing putty, you should immediately call the American Association of Poison Control at (800) 222-1222.
Is Making Slime Safe or Should I Ban It?
Assuming you and your kids aren’t inhaling borax like you’re at a 1980’s house party, or eating it, you should be fine. Just use your common sense and make sure your kids know that slime is for playing — not consuming.
Like with any art project, it’s smart to supervise kids and make sure they handle all ingredients safely. You may also want to instruct them to wear gloves while making it, and 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.
There are plenty of DIY putty recipes that don’t include borax. In fact, some even omit glue in favor of completely natural ingredients like cornstarch, psyllium powder, and chia seeds or flaxseeds. We found some awesome (and possibly tasty) options on Romper.com (link below).
Borax might be the most common ingredient used in slime, but that doesn’t mean removing it has to be a drag. In fact, you can have a lot of fun searching for safe slime recipes with your child. You can even try edible recipes made with Kool-Aid, Nutella, or sweetened condensed milk! Who said safe slime can’t be fun?