How to Make Slime With Glue

iStock
iStock

The well-stocked back-to-school section in most stores means one thing to most kids: The Elmer's glue shortage is officially over!

In 2016, school glue became a hot commodity when the "slime" craze hit classrooms across the U.S. With a simple mixture of glue, water, and a few other ingredients, kids can create a textured blob that's fun to knead, stretch, mold, and shape. Adding glitter, dye, and scented oils allows crafters to customize the sensory stuff to their liking, but that's just the beginning: Other additives can make slime magnetic, glow-in-the-dark, heat-responsive, and more.

But there's more to slime than glitter and eye-popping colors; there's a surprising amount of science behind the stuff. For starters, the substance is a non-Newtonian fluid, a liquid that doesn't conform to "normal" models of viscosity, meaning that its viscosity is affected by not temperature but force or stress. Making slime is a fantastic way for kids to experiment with the way non-Newtonian fluids act.

Then there's the science of how the glue reacts with other ingredients. Glue is a type of polymer, made of long chains of polyvinyl acetate molecules, which slide around and allow the glue to be squeezed out of the bottle. Adding Borax—also known as sodium borate or sodium tetraborate—to the mix results in cross-linking between the glue's protein molecules and the borate ions. The reaction links large molecules together, creating even bigger molecules that prevents them from sliding as easily and creates the slime texture. [PDF]

Though most of the original recipes included Borax, which is primarily used as a cleaning agent, reports quickly surfaced of kids suffering from serious chemical burns after submerging their hands in the substance for too long.

To avoid any mishaps, we've rounded up three of the best basic slime recipes that don't require the use of Borax. Grab the Elmer's while it's still on the shelves, and put a couple of these slime recipes to the test.

CONTACT LENS SOLUTION SLIME

After conducting their own tests to determine a safe way to create slime, Elmer's came up with a concoction that uses contact lens solution.

First, mix together 4 ounces of Elmer's white school glue with a 1/2 tablespoon of baking powder and a 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda. Knead the slime until you get your desired viscosity, adding drops of contact lens solution until you're happy with the result. Add dye, glitter, or other additives as desired.

CORNSTARCH SLIME

For slime that's less ooey-gooey and more fluffy-puffy, try a combination of a 1/2 cup of shampoo and a 1/4 cup of cornstarch. Add 1 tablespoon of water and stir. Mix in 5 more tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time, stirring well after each addition. If your slime is too sticky, knead in more cornstarch until you get it to a dough-like consistency.

SHAVING CREAM SLIME

Using shaving cream will give this version an extra fluffy feel. Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with just enough contact lens solution to cover it. Mix until combined. In a separate bowl, fold together a 1/2 cup of glue with a 1/2 cup of shaving cream. If you want colorful slime, add food coloring before folding. Add the baking soda solution and mix until putty-like. Knead the slime for about three minutes, then place in a sealed container. It should be ready to play with in an hour or two. 

This Outdoor Lantern Will Keep Mosquitoes Away—No Bug Spray Necessary

Thermacell, Amazon
Thermacell, Amazon

With summer comes outdoor activities, and with those activities come mosquito bites. If you're one of the unlucky people who seem to attract the insects, you may be tempted to lock yourself inside for the rest of the season. But you don't have to choose between comfort and having a cocktail on the porch, because this lamp from Thermacell ($25) keeps outdoor spaces mosquito-free without the mess of bug spray.

The device looks like an ordinary lantern you would display on a patio, but it works like bug repellent. When it's turned on, a fuel cartridge in the center provides the heat needed to activate a repellent mat on top of the lamp. Once activated, the repellent in the mat creates a 15-by-15-foot bubble of protection that repels any mosquitos nearby, making it a great option for camping trips, days by the pool, and backyard barbecues.

Mosquito repellent lantern.

Unlike some other mosquito repellents, this lantern is clean, safe, and scent-free. It also provides light like a real lamp, so you can keep pests away without ruining your backyard's ambience.

The Thermacell mosquito repellent lantern is now available on Amazon. If you've already suffered your first mosquito bites of the summer, here's some insight into why that itch can be so excruciating.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Action Park: New Book Goes Inside America's Most Dangerous Amusement Park

Photo courtesy Andy Mulvihill
Photo courtesy Andy Mulvihill

In the late 1970s, ski resort owner Gene Mulvihill transformed a mountain in rural Vernon, New Jersey, into a destination for thrill-seekers in the summer months. The result was Action Park, a one-of-a-kind amusement destination that left guests in charge of their own fun. In this exclusive excerpt from Action Park, new from Penguin Books, his teenage son Andy begins to realize that his father’s insistence on autonomy carries with it a measure of risk.

Emboldened by the success of the Lola race cars and their propensity to facilitate legal drunk driving in New Jersey, my father became preoccupied with growing out the entire motorized area of the park. If it needed fuel, it belonged here. He collected things that went fast and faster still, scooping up anything that could accelerate and filling up virtually every corner of the dedicated property with vehicles that guests could race or wreck.

From across Route 94, my ears partially obscured by the helmet worn while patrolling the skateboard park, I could hear the chants: “Wreck the boats! Wreck the boats!”

On a break, I walked across the road and stood out in the rain next to my older brother, Pete. We watched as people zipped around in speedboats that were roughly two-thirds the size of a full-scale version. Powerful engines that seemed way out of proportion for their flimsy plastic frames weighed them down. They populated a mucky-looking lake in Motor World with a small island in the middle.

“Why are they upset?” I asked.

“When it rains, we close down all the motorized rides except for the boats,” Pete said. “The lines get long. They get pissed and start to revolt.” Once someone got in a boat, he said, it was almost impossible to get them out until they ran out of gas.

The boats made a zipping sound as they looped around the island, noses pointed up in the air as if driven by junior cartel smugglers on the run from the Coast Guard. Two teenagers sped directly at each other, hair blowing back, bearing down on the throttle.

“Don’t do that!” Pete yelled. “Don’t you do that!”

The hulls collided with a thonk noise. Both speedboats began to capsize, spilling the occupants into the water.

“Serves them right,” Pete said.

One of them managed to get back into the boat and began cycling around the island again as Erin, the area’s traffic cop, tried to wave him in. The other climbed back on the dock, dripping with water and reeking of gasoline.

“There’s fuel all over my shorts!” he shouted. “My skin is burning, man!”

“Go to the office,” Pete said. “They have soap.”

Fuel and engine oil leaked from the motors, giving the entire lake a greasy sheen, like the top of a pizza. People who had been tossed into the water often started screaming. “Something brushed against my leg!” they would wail as they waded toward land, looking back as though a shark might emerge from the four-foot depths.

“Snakes,” Pete said. “Some of them are copperheads. We have snapping turtles, too. They can take a toe.” Doing laps in the boats first thing in the morning, Pete said, usually scared them off.

The relative sophistication of the motor-powered rides didn’t prevent us from installing low-cost attractions as well. Adjacent to the speedboat lake was a giant pile of hay bales that stretched more than ten feet in the air. They formed a winding labyrinth that resembled an obstacle course constructed for a rat in a laboratory. A sign next to it read: Human Maze.

A buddy of mine from school, Artie Williams, worked as the maze attendant. He was a good tennis player and read The New York Times every day without fail. These would normally be insufferable qualities for a teenager, but Artie managed to remain likable. He said he often heard muffled pleas for help from inside the maze. “People don’t understand it’s actually complicated and hard to get out of,” he said. “They think it’s like one of those things you draw a line through in a puzzle book. I wouldn’t go in without a rope tied around my waist.”

Snakes occasionally made their way into the bales, he said, popping out and causing people to sprint away in a mad panic, getting themselves even more lost than before. In the middle of summer, the bales also trapped heat, effectively turning the maze into a suffocating furnace. People emerged from the exit soaked in sweat and gasping. “Water, water,” they whispered, dry lips cracking. One of these disappearances actually made the local newspaper.

After a week, I saw a sign go up near the entrance:

DANGER

People Have Been Lost in This Maze for Up to 9 Hours

“It’s good to warn them up front,” Artie said, The New York Times tucked under his armpit.

As Motor World swelled, so did the rest of the park. New attractions seemed to erupt from the ground weekly, and other areas found new purpose. My father put in batting cages and basketball courts. The ski lift became the Sky Ride, a “scenic, 40-minute tour through the mountain landscape.” Trails of pot smoke surrounded the lifts. The race car mechanic, Mike Kramer, had cobbled together single-occupancy tanks that shot tennis balls at velocity at both guests and employees. It was Wimbledon meets Vietnam.

The concept of the Vernon Valley Fun Farm was already too quaint. The park was evolving, reflecting the increasingly rabid tastes of its patrons. The diesel-drenched success of Motor World and the failure of the comparatively serene skateboard park proved that people wanted speed and danger, competition and risk.

They did not want a fun farm. They wanted an action park.

Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America's Most Dangerous Amusement Park, by Andy Mulvihill and Jake Rossen
Penguin Books

Excerpted from Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park by Andy Mulvihill with Mental Floss senior writer Jake Rossen. Published by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2020 by Andrew J. Mulvihill.