Ah, slime. From the humble Dragon Quest monster to the all-encompassing gray goo of nanotechnology that will eventually swallow us all, amorphous life has always fascinated us. And if you’re a low-budget moviemaker looking for a cheap gross-out or a YouTube prankster who wants to kick things up a notch, you’ve probably considered making your own slime.
There are plenty of books and manuals out there that promise you a foolproof recipe for making pro-quality slime. And they’re great! No disrespect to the slime scientists that did the work.
But we believe information – especially disgusting information – wants to be free. So here we’ll aggregate a bunch of what we consider the best slime formulas out there. These vary in consistency, color, and cleanup, so pick the one that’s best for your ooze needs and proceed from there.
Classic Nickelodeon Slime
Slime first had its moment in the sun on You Can’t Do That On Television, a Canadian sketch show from the late 1970s that started airing on then-new Nickelodeon in 1981. That show had a number of running gags, but the most famous is that whenever a cast member said “I don’t know,” a torrent of green slime would fall on their head from nowhere. The prop department had the slime request given to them at the last minute before knowing what it was for, so their first attempt was colored with toxic latex paint.
The original YCDTOT slime was green Jell-O that was allowed to partially congeal, then mixed with flour. They soon shifted to Cream of Wheat with green food coloring and baby shampoo (to prevent hardening) mixed in. Both of those recipes work great if you’re going for the hyper-lumpy retro Nickelodeon look.
The other slime-heavy Nick show, Double Dare, made its goop out of “vanilla pudding, applesauce, oatmeal, green food coloring, and by the third day, anything else that was on the obstacle course,” according to host Marc Summers. Maybe don’t mess with that one.
Modern Nickelodeon Slime
If the food preparation is a little too much for you to stomach (especially on hot days), let us clue you into the way that the producers of the Kids Choice Awards and other slime-heavy events make it. Instead of a complex concoction of multiple ingredients, they use only one: methylcellulose.
This miracle material is derived from plant tissue using a process of heating it in a solution of sodium hydroxide and treating it with methyl chloride. That breaks it down into a fine white powder that maintains the sturdy polymer structure of cellulose. When mixed with cold water, it partially solidifies into a clear, slippery gel. The more water you add the thinner it gets. For Nick slime consistency, we recommend 45g of powder per gallon of water.
Nickelodeon gets their slime from a Los Angeles company called Blair Adhesive Materials who keep the exact recipe a closely-guarded secret. It’s most likely methylcellulose mixed with sodium copper chlorophyllin, a common food colorant also made from plants.
Borax / Glue Slime
This slime doubles as a pretty cool chemistry lesson, so if you want to pretend that making a huge goopy mess is educational, go right ahead. You’ll need white school glue, water, food coloring and Borax (a cleaning powder).
Mix one-ounce white glue, one cup water and whatever food coloring you want in a glass bowl and mix together. Then stir in a quarter cup of the Borax and the slime will immediately begin to form into an opaque non-Newtonian fluid. That means that if it’s handled gently, it will ooze and pour easily, but pressure will cause it to harden in reaction.
What’s happening here is that an ingredient in the glue called polyvinyl acetate is linked together by the sodium tetraborate in the Borax. That enables all of the polyvinyl acetate molecules to act as one big, stretchy flexible polymer.
Transparent Borax Slime
Using the bonding properties of sodium tetraborate on polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) creates a slime that’s transparent instead of opaque, for a stringy, oozy result. The chemical reaction here is bonds in the oxygen molecules of the oxygen in the PVA’s polymer chains. Because these bonds are relatively weak, they break and reform easily. That gives the slime a shifting consistency that really delivers.
The base color of PVA slime is sort of off-white, but any food coloring can be used to tint it to your heart’s desire. Like all Borax slimes, this stuff is toxic if you ingest it, so don’t use it anyplace where people might accidentally have their mouths open.
Saline Solution Slime
If you don’t have access to Borax, you can use “buffered” saline solution – the kind they use for contact lens storage – as a substitute. Fill a bowl with a bottle of white school glue and add a teaspoon or so of baking soda, then stir thoroughly. Use your desired food coloring at this stage as well.
Then begin dripping the saline into the bowl, a few drops at a time. It should immediately start congealing, so stir it evenly throughout the mass. Keep adding saline until the slime achieves your desired consistency. Then rinse your hands with saline, pick up the slime mass and start kneading it. The little bit of extra elbow grease will help the material become more stretchy and flexible. Too much saline will break down the structure, though, so go slow.
Pretty much all of these concoctions only have a few hours of viable time before they dry out and lose their consistency. To extend their lives, seal them in an airtight container and keep in a cool, dry place. None of the colorants we’ve suggested will cause any permanent staining, but the Borax and solution slimes can react with certain surfaces. Don’t sue us if you do something dumb with slime and get in trouble.
So there are five exceptional ways to produce your own slime, ooze, gak or whatever you want to call it. Now get out there and melt.