Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Sodium Borate and Glue
Name: Brett B.
Status: educator
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 3/17/2004


Question:
I need help with a good recipe for making the slime polymer using Elmer's glue and sodium borate. Our mixture gets hard. What is a good recipe for the saturated sodium borate solution. Why does it get hot? Let me know if you can help out with a good recipe.


Replies:
Elmer's glue is made of a copolymer off polyvinyl acetate and polyvinyl alcohol. The "slime" reaction involves sodium borate and polyvinyl alcohol. If your recipe is "setting up" you need to decrease the sodium borate concentration, not increase it. You can find a number of recipes if you do a Google search on the terms: "Elmer's glue slime". Two sites are:

http://www.fatlion.com/science/slime.html
http://www.plastics.com/slime.php

Vince Calder


Brett,

I have done this "experiment" so many times in school. I brought slime back to the dorm for friends and roommates. This is pretty fun stuff. I am not aware of any Elmer's glue recipe. However it is quite possible that PVA (polyvinyl alcohol), the monomer in this reaction. My own words of advice are to go a little on the heavy side (use A LITTLE more than what is asked with respect to the borate anion, also called the cross-linker or catalyst). If you go really heavy on it the aver MWT chains drastically decreases if you stir vigorously because the polymerization will have never been given a chance to link in more ordered, longer chain (SLIMIER) polymers.

The reason I tell you this is because the first time I did this I did not add enough activator (borate - ) and polymerization did not proceed to an optimum value. So the answer to your question is unfortunately to follow that links recipe of 1:4 (ratios on the URL). But maybe start off with even just a "tad" more borate- than what is called for. I say this because I know that you will be using Elmer's glue....AND I HAVE NEVER DONE THAT EXPERIMENT W/ ANY < 99% PURE REAGENTS. My apologies for that.

http://www.chem.umn.edu/outreach/Slime.html

-Darin Wagner


I have always just placed Borax into a flask with water until it was saturated--there are "recipes" available, but it is just easier to dissolve until you cannot dissolve any more. Let the extra settle out so the grit does not get into your polymer. Check your glue--I am pretty sure it has to be Elmer's white glue ("school glue" supposedly does not work, although I have not tried it--perhaps the result is what you made).

Pat Rowe



Click here to return to the Chemistry Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory