Skip to Content

Is Slime Bad for the Environment? (Say No to Slime Videos)

Is Slime Bad for the Environment? (Say No to Slime Videos)

One of the most popular toys Slime is probably known by most kids and adults in the world. This toy was introduced way back in 1976. This toy gives kids messy play and a lot of fun, they usually play this together with styrofoam beads.

And this product is still currently being sold in the market. Most slime videos say that this product is known to be non-toxic and safe for kids.

But do we know if it causes any harm to the environment? Is slime bad for the environment?

What is slime?

Playing Slime with Glitters

Slime is a toy that looks and feels like the ooze and goo of real slime. This toy is made of polymer, borax, and water. It has a unique feeling when touched because it contains glycerin which is extendable by adding either corn syrup or Vaseline.

It also contains polysaccharide guar gum and sodium tetraborate. Usually, this product will be found as balls of slime, but sometimes you can also find it as a liquid.

See Related: Is Carbon Monoxide Bad for the Environment?

What is polysaccharide guar gum?

Polysaccharide guar gum is a powder extracted from a certain Indian bean. This powder has a unique adhesive feature where it can stick to the wall.

In slime, the polysaccharide guar gum serves as a thickening agent that can hold water together well. In addition, this also gives the slime a stretchy and gooey feel.

See Related: Best Conservation Books to Read

What is sodium tetraborate?

Sodium Tetraborate is a colorless borax crystal that can be dissolved in water. In slime, this ingredient serves as a hardener and thickening agent. In addition to this, Borax also has its benefits such as being an important element in laundry detergent, enamel glaze for fireproofing, and even a preservative for apple cider.

See Related: Important Erosion Pros and Cons You Need to Know

How can borax/sodium tetraborate cause harm to the environment?

Borax is known to have a chemical formula of Na2B4O7· 10 H2O or simply 4Na2B4O7 + 7H2O.

Borax may be a common substance but it can also cause harm to the environment. This substance is hazardous if not handled or disposed of properly.

Borax can kill plants and pollute water sources because of its high boron content which can be harmful to humans as well.

Although this product has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a natural herbicide and pesticide, this substance is categorized as Harmful to Environment Biodiversity and Humans by the World Health Organization (WHO).

See Related: What is Biomass Energy? Pros and Cons of this Resource

Why can borax/sodium tetraborate be harmful to humans?

Borax has been known to contain acute toxicity which means that high doses of this product can be harmful. Ingestion of Borax is the primary cause of toxicity in humans, which means that this product may cause muscular pains and cramps when it gets into contact with your skin.

Borax also contains a component called boric acid which is poisonous. It can even cause death if you ingest it or get it in contact with your skin.

A derivative of this product called sodium tetraborate pentahydrate or simply borax is used in many household products such as hand soaps, detergents, disinfectants, bleaches, and even food items.

See Related: Celebrity Environmentalist You Need to Know

Is borax/sodium tetraborate harmful to animals?

Yes, this product is harmful to animals too. Although borax and its derivatives (like sodium tetraborate) can be naturally occurring elements in Mother Nature. But when we extract these ingredients from the ground, we only get a small amount of Boron and other minerals in their natural state which means that most of it will end up as waste.

These waste products can be highly toxic to animals and humans because of their content on boron. Even though there are some health benefits from this substance, it is still not advisable to keep them at home as pets may tend to lick or ingest these substances mistaken as food resulting in poisoning.

In addition, borax has been found to be toxic to aquatic organisms such as fish and amphibians. Its high boron content makes it difficult for water-living creatures to metabolize thus causing death.

See Related: Stylish Eco-Friendly Backpacks

What is the process of making slime?

Pink Slime with Beads and Glitters

Slime is made by mixing the polymer (polydimethylsiloxane) and some other ingredients like borax and sodium tetraborate pentahydrate.

The combination of Polydimethylsiloxane and borax is what makes slime slimy while sodium tetraborate serves as a stiffener to make the mixture dense. In addition, sodium tetraborate also gives that satisfying “squish” when you play with the slime.

In slime, the polysaccharide guar gum serves as a thickening agent that can hold water together well. In addition, this also gives the slime a stretchy and gooey feel.

The combination of all these ingredients results in slime that has sticky properties and is soft but elastic.

See Related: Why Should We Care About Climate Change?

Is slime toy biodegradable?

Slime is not biodegradable because it contains only a little concentration of Borax and other ingredients. If it goes to a landfill, it will not decompose into simpler compounds that are naturally occurring in the environment.

See Related: Best Books on Pollution

What are the side effects of slime use?

Although most online tutorial slime videos tell you that this substance is safe to handle, severe poisoning can occur if the slime gets into contact with your skin or mucous membranes.

If you accidentally swallow or drool some slime into your mouth, you may experience “slime burps” that smell like horse manure. Ingestion can also cause poisoning which can lead to death if you ingest a large amount of slime.

Slime is also known to be harmful if it gets into contact with the eyes, nostrils, and other sensitive areas of the body. It will give you a burning sensation because of its boron content which can eventually lead to skin burn.

See Related: Biodegradable vs Compostable

What are the effects of slime on the environment?

Black Slime With Colorful Beads and Glitters

According to some scientists, slime is a non-biodegradable substance meaning that it can take years before getting back to its initial form.

The components of this toy such as borax and polysaccharide guar gum should be disposed of properly for the environment not to be harmed. But still, if the slime sticks on rocks or trees, these can take even up to 15 years to decompose.

Over time, slime can accumulate and cause harm to the environment such as pollution of water sources because of the components that it contains.

Some research explains that sodium tetraborate has been confirmed that may affect the growth of plants and algae in lakes and streams.

Now, this fact may not directly link to the slime but the process of extracting it from the ground can.

Another study explains that polydimethylsiloxane is harmful because of its ability to mimic estrogen which causes abnormalities in both shrimp and fish.

Lastly, if you decide to wash your car with these substances, they will stick on the car’s surface resulting in water pollution if not disposed of properly.

See Related: Best Conservation Techniques

Is it possible to make an eco-friendly slime?

Galaxy Inspired Slime

Slime is a great stress reliever but it is best to make them from organic materials.

If you want to be sure that there are no harmful substances in your slime, then avoid those products that contain borax and sodium tetraborate pentahydrate or derivatives of these chemicals. You can even use coconut oil as an alternative instead of guar gum in making a homemade slime eco-friendly slime.

If you want to make slime that is more rubbery and elastic, you can use half a cup of liquid starch (corn starch) as your base ingredient. This becomes a good eco-friendly alternative since it won’t stick on the tree unlike starch derived from corn or wheat.

You can also replace polysaccharide guar gum with konjac powder or glucomannan which are natural polysaccharides. This will reduce the risk of diseases related to hormonal imbalance.

Lastly, you can use ingredients in making slime that are eco-friendly so it does not have a negative effect on the environment when washed down the drain or thrown in the trash.

See Related: Climate Change Quotes That Will Surprise You

Conclusion

There are two, inevitable problems with slime products; the byproducts of making them and the byproducts of using them.

Using them irresponsibly causes surface and water pollution that can harm the environment due to its chemical contents.

Slime may be a great toy for kids but we need to take extra precautions if you want your children to enjoy it. Making a homemade slime would be a great alternative.

In watching slime videos you can learn slime recipes. You can use ingredients like food coloring, pva glue, and corn starch in making slime.

Not only will kids learn basic science by making an eco-friendly slime, but they can also have fun and learn how to be responsible and careful in taking care of our environment.

Related Resources