Is Slime Safe and are there any Alternatives to Slime?
By Anna Taylor and Rathika Radia
Recently there have been a lot of scare stories in the news suggesting that common ingredients found in slime can be toxic and potentially harmful for children.
One example of this is the story of a young girl, who like her friends had been hooked by the recent new craze that is gripping young children and teens everywhere. After making her own slime via a video tutorial she found on YouTube, 10-year-old Layla Fisher discovered that blisters had erupted on her fingers. The irritation occurred immediately after playing with the slime, that got worse after the evening wore on. Her mother took her to the GP who later diagnosed her with a skin infection.
It is borax – a common ingredient found in slime – that can cause these nasty irritations and burns to the skin which may lead to serious infections. Additionally, inhaling borax powder can irritate the lungs and cause breathing problems. However, the small amounts of borax in slime recipes is unlikely to be toxic.
Dr Kyran Quinlan, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says that while borax is a mild irritant,
Precautions should be taken though to keep children as safe as possible. Borax is more likely to irritate children’s skin if it has not been diluted properly, so it’s important that children stick to the recipe – adult supervision will help with this.
Prolonged exposure to borax can also increase the risk of irritation, and borax can be poisonous if swallowed – so ensure that your child wears gloves and thoroughly washes his/her hands after playing with slime. Children are at higher risk of harm from slime if their skin is already irritated, for example, those with cuts/scraps, or eczema – in this case, it may be better to avoid slime recipes using borax altogether.
Slime can be a great learning tool for kids and making it at home can provide them with many educational opportunities. For example, slime can be a great way to teach children about science, as slime is an example of polymerisation.
Polymers are structures of large molecules made up of smaller molecules, called monomers. Polymers have many different uses and are used in a lot of plastics. This makes slime a perfect way to show children how polymers are created and give you the chance to introduce your child to new scientific vocabulary such as a molecule, polymers etc.
This weird wondrous gloop also makes an excellent fidget toy to relieve stress and anxiety. Simply stretching and pulling it apart is a perfect way to exercise fingers and makes a great sensory tool for children.
If you are concerned about the safety of slime, there are lots of play ideas out there that can bring science to life through a fascinating sensory experience.
Why not try these safe alternatives to slime?
(By The Imagination Tree)
(Playdough Recipe by BBC)
By taking the correct safety precautions you can limit the negative effects of slime, but remember that the ingredients are irritants and should be used with care.
We all worry that children spend too much time in front of screens and not enough time playing, experimenting, and getting messy – so it’s great to see children getting enthusiastic about slime.
Take the opportunity this summer to get them off of their PlayStation or Xbox and allow them to unleash their creativity and enjoy making some marvellous concoctions instead!
Image Credit:activities, safe play, slime
This post was written by Anna Taylor