Pediatrician Says Health Risk Low for Homemade Slime


Families are stocking up on Borax and glue, using these simple ingredients to make the popular homemade “slime.” Pediatrician Nicole Baumann-Blackmore, MD, UnityPoint Health, even describes the project and product as “pretty cool,” but she also has these health reminders and tips to help families and children stay safe with slime.

Health Risks of Slime

Many of the online slime recipes contain glue, like Elmer’s school glue, one teaspoon of Borax detergent and water. To make things more fun and messy, items like food coloring and glitter can be added, too. As long as the slime isn’t swallowed, Dr. Baumann-Blackmore says health risks are low.

“There are no real health risks if kids are simply playing with the slime,” Dr. Baumann-Blackmore says. “It contains such a small amount of Borax that it would be unlikely to cause damage to the skin. Slime can be harmful if ingested, however, so parents should be sure that young children are supervised closely when playing with it.”

If slime is ingested, parents should call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at (800) 222-1222 for further instructions. But, Dr. Baumann-Blackmore also says there are other slime recipes without these ingredients, if parents are concerned. She’s even tried them herself.

“There are several Borax-free recipes available online. I’ve made slime with my kids using cornstarch and water. It was fun and didn’t require a trip to the store for the ingredients! You can also make a liquid starch with cornstarch, water and lemon juice, then, add that to a glue and water mixture,” Dr. Baumann-Blackmore says.

Educational Benefits of Slime

In addition to just plain fun, Dr. Baumann-Blackmore says it’s also a learning experience for children.

“The slime is fun to play with but also a great way to teach kids about different states of matter, show them how different chemicals react with each other and work on math skills,” Dr. Baumann-Blackmore says.

Not sure slime is for you? Store-bought products work just as well, but Dr. Baumann-Blackmore recommends checking packaging to make sure products are non-toxic. Otherwise, she offers three other ideas for easy, DIY “science experiments.”

  • Play dough. Flour, salt, cream of tartar, vegetable oil and boiling water.
  • Silly putty. Glue and liquid starch.
  • Homemade bubbles. Water, Dawn dish soap, cornstarch, baking powder and glycerin.

For any questions about your child’s health, including product safety, contact your UnityPoint Health primary care provider.