By: Miraya Kwatra
Ever played with market slime? Or have you ever made it?
Well, I’m sure most of you would have done at least one of them. But, have you ever wondered why slime is the gooey, sticky and yet consistent substance it is? If you would like to know how slime comes together and what roles the different ingredients play, then read on!
Section-1 POLYVINYL ACETATE
The basic ingredients that are needed to make slime are an activator and glue. Slime is created by a chemical reaction that takes place by combining these two. A synthesis between these two takes place, i.e. two different molecules create a different, new substance.
Let’s checkout this example. When you’re swimming in a pool, you can easily flow through the water by applying force opposite to the direction of water present. Now, what will happen if the pool is filled with dozens of plastic rubber bands and tubes? It will definitely be difficult to push past. In exactly the same way, the general glue, which is used for making slime is POLYVINYL ACETATE (PVA), has long and continuous strands of molecules which are extremely fluid. It is made by mixing small monomers (single molecules that can bond to make a larger molecule) repeatedly with a substance called Vinyl acetate. This is the reason why glue is so easy to pour over any surface.
Then, borax is added, which is in fact the most integral part used in the chemical reaction in making the slime. In almost every household, you’ll find this substance for cleaning purposes. This is because of its strong nature (Don’t worry, it won’t come and attack you!). It converts the water it is combined with during cleaning into a new chemical. The chemical name for borax is sodium tetraborate. Why so? Well, normal table salt is called sodium chloride and so, yes borax is a type of salt too. It contains some gases, like, oxygen. Borax also consists of sodium borate. Its emergence is also related to boron. Boron works as the “magic wand” for the strong nature of borax.
Section-3 THE FINALE
Usually, water is mixed with the slime mixture to make the PVA glue more fluid. Many times, even borax is added to the slime in a liquid form. Now, let’s come back to the example written in SECTION-1. Water is free flowing and easy to get past exactly like glue. But, when the rubber bands are added, it will be hard to swim through it. That is exactly what happens when borax is added to slime, it gets a grip onto the glue molecules and stops them from flowing past, exactly like the rubber bands that will try and get hold of you. And, in this way, slime is created. It isn’t stiff but it isn’t completely liquid too. Ever heard of over-activated slime? When the elements are combined in the correct quantities, slime remains moderately activated but what will happen if you put in too much borax? The more borax, the more stiff the slime will be as the activator will tend to take over the glue as its quantity will be more than what is required. Now you know the slime theory!
Quality Logo Products. (2019, January 22) The Different Types of Adhesives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qutTkJ4rO8&feature=youtu.be
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (2020, March 09) Polyvinyl acetate chemical compound: https://www.britannica.com/science/polyvinyl-acetate
Gattey.D (n.d) Clinical Ocular Toxicology: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/borax
Time For Slime: https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/adventures-in-chemistry/experiments/slime.html
Image Credit 1: Getty Images - https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46640361
Image/Drawing Credit 2: SELF MADE.