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Slime time: Latest kid craze messy, but educational

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, 1:48 p.m.
Lucy Dellera (left), 11, and Hollie Hill  11, of Hempfield, pose for a portrait with homemade slime, at Lucy's home, in Hempfield, on Thursday, Aug. 03, 2017. Slime is made from combining glue, laundry detergent, and shaving cream.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Lucy Dellera (left), 11, and Hollie Hill 11, of Hempfield, pose for a portrait with homemade slime, at Lucy's home, in Hempfield, on Thursday, Aug. 03, 2017. Slime is made from combining glue, laundry detergent, and shaving cream.
Hollie Hill (left), 11, and Lucy Dellera, 11, of Hempfield, play with 'unicorn slime' by combining glitter glue, blue laundry detergent, and a foaming shaving cream or shimmer fizz, at Lucy's  home, in Hempfield, on Thursday, Aug. 03, 2017.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Hollie Hill (left), 11, and Lucy Dellera, 11, of Hempfield, play with 'unicorn slime' by combining glitter glue, blue laundry detergent, and a foaming shaving cream or shimmer fizz, at Lucy's home, in Hempfield, on Thursday, Aug. 03, 2017.
Lucy Dellera, 11, of Hempfield, works to make 'unicorn slime' by combining glitter glue, blue laundry detergent, and a foaming shaving cream or shimmer fizz, at her home, in Hempfield, on Thursday, Aug. 03, 2017.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Lucy Dellera, 11, of Hempfield, works to make 'unicorn slime' by combining glitter glue, blue laundry detergent, and a foaming shaving cream or shimmer fizz, at her home, in Hempfield, on Thursday, Aug. 03, 2017.

The ingredients sit on the kitchen counter sink as friends Lucy Dellera and Hollie Hill mix the proper amount of each to create the masterpiece — a moist, soft and slippery substance known as slime.

It's the latest kid's craze.

Youngsters concoct their own recipes as well as re-create those they've seen via YouTube, other websites and on social media. It's pretty easy to get started. Most of the ingredients can be found in the house already.

The common denominator is glue — start with that and add water, eye contact solution and baking soda to make clear slime. Then, let your imagination run wild to form everything from glitter slime to glow-in-the-dark slime.

Half the fun is in the experimentation, agree Lucy and Hollie, both 11 of Hempfield.

The girls, who will attend West Hempfield Middle School starting Aug. 28, have been learning about slime from watching hours of tutorials for about a year now.

Lucy's mom, Kim Dellera says, she was OK with the slime-making idea as long as her daughter made it in the bathroom, cleaned up afterward and didn't use borax. Lucy convinced her mom to let the slime be made in the kitchen — she did keep to the other requests of cleaning up and no borax.

Borax can cause eye, skin and respiratory irritation.

"I kept asking my mom to get me some glue," Lucy says. "And she did, and after I made the first batch I thought, 'This is amazing.' Slime is so fun to play with."

"Slime-making just blew up on social media," Hollie says. "There are recipes and videos and all kinds of sources on how to make slime."

It's also something that the girls say they make for each other and trade among their friends.

"Kids like slime because it is sensory and sticky and cold and they feel like they are being messy with something that their parents might not let them play with," says Crystal Gonzales, a teaching artist in the Makeshop at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh on the North Side.

Slime is known as a non-Newtonian fluid, says Gonzales. It is a fluid whose flow properties are not described by a single constant value of viscosity. Many polymer solutions and molten polymers are non-Newtonian fluids, as are many commonly found substances such as ketchup, starch suspensions, paint, blood and shampoo, according to weirdsciencekids.com.

Gonzales says it's a fun activity because you get to see how mixing different ingredients react.

"It is a great activity for kids to experiment and play with," Gonzales says. "It is one of the best fads I have seen in a long time, better than those fidget spinners or Pokemon cards. It teaches them a lot of good skills. It can be therapeutic."

Hollie and Lucy's slime-making has evolved into bath bombs for moisturizing skin.

"We might need some extra storage for all this slime," says Kim Dellera, who works from home. "I never know what I am going to find when I come downstairs after work. Lucy's favorite part of making slime is playing with it afterward. My favorite part is she is learning a lot about chemistry in the process. She and Hollie are trying different ingredients and experimenting."

"It's just a fun thing to do with friends," Hollie says. "And then you can play with it when you are done. It's something you can make by yourself or with a friend. If my friends mess it up then I try to fix it … add some of this and some of that."

"Slime is fun because you can stretch it — if it rips, you are doing it too fast," Lucy says. "It can last for a few months, depends on how much you play with it."

Lucy Dellera, 11, of Hempfield, works to make "unicorn slime" by combining glitter glue, blue laundry detergent, and a foaming shaving cream or shimmer fizz, at her home, in Hempfield, on Thursday, Aug. 03, 2017.

Photo by Dan Speicher

 

It's been quite a boost for Elmer's , which first noticed the trend near the end of last year when the company saw an increase in liquid glue sales — school and glitter glues —due in large part to the slime trend, says Caitlin Watkins, of public relations department for Newell Brands, which represents Elmer's.

"An even larger spike occurred during the holiday season, when sales of Elmer's liquid glues in retail stores increased by more than double (versus the same period the year prior)," she says.

Aside from the uptick in sales, the Elmer's team noticed the slime trend becoming more popular on social media, Watkins says.

"We've seen a variety of slime recipes oozing through cyberspace over the past few months," she says, and adds that the glues are strong, flexible and easy to use while being safe and non-toxic. "Glitter slime, glow-in-the-dark slime, puffy slime and butter slime are just a few of the gooey concoctions we have seen, many of which use Elmer's glue as a key ingredient. It is this proprietary science behind our formulation that makes it the perfect glue to create slime. The combination of high-quality polymers and the viscosity are what generate the ideal slime — the end result is a slime that is stretchy and malleable without being too sticky.

The trend has been consumer driven, particularly on social media.

"We've seen kids ages 6 and older embracing the trend," she says. "We've also seen teachers making slime in the classroom and moms and younger kids making slime together at home. Crafting and making do-it-yourself slime is a great engaging pastime and an alternative to screen time."

She says it's recommended for children to make slime under adult supervision. Multiple teams at Elmer's – including chemists, research and development, product safety and marketing — worked to develop easy-to-make and kid-friendly slime recipes in the office, she says, using everything from conference tables, breakroom countertops and file cabinets to make and store various containers of slime for weeks.

All teams painstakingly tested formulas to learn which combination of ingredients produced great slime — the resulting recipes are available online at elmers.com/slime.

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-853-5062 or jharrop@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Jharrop_Trib.

Wanna try it?

Here are few recipes for slime from elmers.com. With each, the company warns that adult supervision is required; the projects are not appropriate for children under the age of 3. Always wash your hands before and after making and playing with slime. Find more recipes at elmers.com/slime.

Slime with glitter glue pen

1½ tablespoons baking soda

3 tablespoons contact lens solution

3 5-ounce Elmer's Clear Glues

Two or more of each purple, blue, pink colored Elmer's .356 ounce glitter glues

Food Coloring – blue, red

1. Pour the entire contents of each one of the 5 fl oz of Elmer's Clear School Glue into the three bowls.

2. For each bowl, add ½ tbsp of baking soda and mix thoroughly.

3. For one of the bowls, add two or more of your pink Elmer's glitter glues.

4. For another bowl, add one drop of the blue coloring dye and then add your blue Elmer's glitter glues.

5. For the last bowl add two drops of blue and red coloring due and then add your purple Elmer's glitter glues and mix.

6. Add 1 tablespoon of contact lens solution to each bowl.

7. Mix until mixture gets harder to mix and slime begins to form.

8. Take the slimes out and begin kneading each with both of your hands.

9. If needed, add ¼ tablespoon of contact lens solution to make the slime less sticky.

10. Lay the three slimes on top of each other and begin to knead!

11. If you knead too much, it will just become one color.

Extra large glitter slime

1 tbsp of baking soda

2½ tablespoons of contact lens solution

9 ounces Elmer's Clear School Glue

Your choices of Elmer's .356 ounce glitter glues

Your choice of food coloring

1. Pour out the entire contents of the Elmer's Clear School Glue into a bowl. (optional — add your choice of food coloring)

2. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and mix thoroughly.

3. Add your Elmer's glitter glues and mix (add however many you want)

4. Add 2½ tablespoons of contact lens solution.

5. Mix until mixture gets harder to mix and slime begins to form.

6. Take the slime out and begin kneading with both of your hands.

7. If needed, add ¼ tablespoon of contact lens solution to make the slime less sticky.

Glitter slime

1/2 tablespoon of baking soda

1¼ tablespoon of contact lens solution

6-ounce Elmer's Glitter Glue

1. Pour out the entire contents of the Elmer's Glitter Glue into a bowl.

2. Add ½ tablespoon of baking soda and mix thoroughly.

3. Add 1¼ tablespoons of contact lens solution.

4. Mix until mixture gets harder to mix and slime begins to form.

5. Take the slime out and begin kneading with both of your hands.

6. If needed, add ¼ tbsp of contact lens solution to make the slime less sticky.

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