The Joys and Dangers of Slime

There’s something strangely satisfying with slime. Maybe it’s the texture or the colors or the sound it makes as fingers poke and squeeze and stretch. If you aren’t familiar with this craze oozing across the internet, stop reading and check out CraftySlimeCreator on Instagram. Go. Watch. Then come back with a better understanding of this fascination.

At home, daycare and camp, kids (and adults) are clamoring to create and play with slime. Of course, slime is not new. My kids made a simple green version at a Kid’s Club craft table years ago, and I have fond memories of opening a plastic egg and lifting ink from newspaper comics with the original slime: Silly Putty.

Today’s kids, however, are stepping up the game as they Google recipes, gather ingredients and assume the roles of chemist and cook. More power to them! After all, how long have we pediatricians called upon families to step away from computers and smartphones and get back to exploring and playing together? And then there’s the creative aspect. Little adjustments in the make-up and proportion of ingredients can make a big difference in the final product. Plus, there’s fun in mixing colors and the crunch and pop of those unexpected fillers, like Styrofoam balls and plastic beads. It would seem that creating slime is a win-win for any family.

Until it’s not.

You may have also heard the slime horror stories: burned hands, seizures, memory loss and days spent in the hospital. Turns out some of those recipes include potentially toxic ingredients, like Borax (which is a salt of boric acid), dishwasher soap and laundry detergent.

This doesn’t mean we need to hit the brakes on slime-making, but we do need to exercise caution, follow common sense and maintain age-appropriate supervision. Even seemingly non-toxic slime ingredients, like glue, shaving cream, hand soap and baking soda, can become a problem when consumed in large quantities or exposed to skin over long periods of time.

So go ahead and explore, create and play, but do so wisely. Here are some additional safety tips to get you started:

Check the ingredient list.
What items are your kids mixing together? If you aren’t familiar with a substance or something seems questionable, research the ingredient before proceeding.

Avoid recipes calling for toxic ingredients.
There are plenty of safe recipes out there. Avoid ones using Borax, boric acid, dishwasher soap, laundry detergent and other caustic chemicals.

Read safety labels before giving the green light.
Even if you think an ingredient is safe, read the label and follow directions. You might be surprised by the potential hazards lurking inside your home.

Keep little objects out of the hands of young children.
Remember those Styrofoam balls and plastic beads? They are perfectly sized for choking. It’s best to skip the crunch-and-pop versions of slime when babies and toddlers are nearby.

Provide adequate supervision.
Dangerous situations are more likely to occur when you aren’t looking. Ensure ingredients are chosen and handled safely by jumping in and joining the fun.

Call the Poison Center at the first sign of trouble.
If your child experiences unusual or unexpected symptoms while creating or playing with slime, call your doctor or contact the local Poison Center by dialing 1-800-222-1222. If your child’s symptoms are serious, call 911.

For a list of slime recipes, please visit the websites below:

(Disclaimer: These websites were reviewed on 7/26/17 and may have been updated since that time. Please always review the ingredient list and provide proper supervision when making slime with your child.)

Mike Patrick, MD
Dr. Mike is an emergency medicine physician at Nationwide Children’s and host of PediaCast, our pediatric podcast for moms and dads. Each week, PediaCast covers news parents can use, answers listener questions, and delivers interviews with pediatric experts on a variety of topics. Dr Mike is also an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, where he serves as a faculty advisor for medical students. On the home front, he is married with two kids: a college-aged daughter and a son in high school. Prior to working in the emergency department, Dr Mike spent 10 years in a busy private practice, a time he says most prepared him for the practical advice he shares on PediaCast. Dr Mike also has an interest in roller skating. He learned to walk with skates on his feet, and his first job (age 10) was as a disc jockey at his hometown roller skating rink. He has also worked as a DJ at two radio stations, experiences which further prepared him to host our podcast!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *