CHICAGO – At an age known for peer pressure and friend wars, Chicago 13-year-olds Caitlyn Garofoli and Zoe Martin have discovered the recipe for junior high success:
3 tablespoons glue
1 teaspoon Borax
1 cup water
When mixed together with a few other enhancements, the teens make pots of slime – a stretchy, gooey substance that is the tween and teen fad du jour.
“At school, everybody will talk about it. Some people will have it in their backpack and at recess they’ll play with it. Other kids talk about it at lunch, or whenever we can during class,” said Caitlyn, who, along with Zoe, decided to cash in on the trend by opening an online business called Chicago – Slime.
In just 3 months, the girls have sold more than 100 tubs of their product. That’s $500 worth of slime to customers across the U.S. without any advertising, said Zoe, who added that they are now working on marketing strategies to continue their success.
The local teens’ bustling business is proof that the Chicago area has not escaped the nationwide resurgence of slime that has led to reports of Elmer’s Glue shortages at stores and made messes in suburban Chicago school bathrooms. It has inspired exasperated Facebook posts from parents tired of cleaning up after the junior chemists and reignited parenting blog posts wondering whether the slime’s ingredients can be harmful to children’s health.
The science behind slime-making is simple. White glue is loaded with long chain molecules called polymers. Borax links those polymers together into a big network. The result is even larger polymers that create a thickened slime, according to Nicholas, of the Museum of Science and Industry.
And while Borax, or sodium borate, can be toxic if ingested, can irritate the respiratory system if inhaled, and will sting if it comes in contact with an open sore, pediatricians say children using small amounts of the substance for slime shouldn’t incur any harmful effects if used with those caution. Long-term risks of exposure to slime would occur only after years of extended exposure to Borax, far longer than the current fad will likely persist, said Jennifer Lowry, a pediatrician, toxicologist and chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics council on environmental health.
“This is cool to do every once in a while, but let’s not do it forever,” Lowry said.