A Space Age Toy – Silly Putty And How To Make It

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 A space age toy – Silly Putty and how to make it

By Joseph Parish

We all remember as youths sitting comfortably upon the dining room floor and playing with a mysterious substance known as silly putty. Perhaps we had a newspaper handy and pressed a glob of it on one of the images. After lifting the putty we noticed the same picture appeared on it. Silly putty is fully shapeable allowing children to display many of their artistic talents. Silly putty was then and will continue to be one of the most popular toys available for children.

Silly Putty was invented by Dow Corning in 1943 and intended to be a synthetic rubber for industrial use. Dow’s patent number 3179 was essentially a failure because it simply was not firm enough to replace rubber. Until 1949 silly putty remained on Dows shelve and was all but forgotten until an unemployed ad executive gave birth to an idea of marketing the putty as a Childs toy. It was packaged in a plastic egg shaped container to which it has continued to be sold to this day in an egg container.

To be more precise silly putty is what the chemists refer to as a polymer. Without becoming too technical a polymer is merely a substance which has a long string of flexible molecules. Since these molecules have a natural type of flexibility they are easily stretched similar to rubber.

Let’s be realistic for a moment as actual silly putty would get extremely difficult to reproduce at home however a similar substance which has the same qualities is easily made in the kitchen with basic ingredients which are easily obtained.


One bottle of Elmer’s glue

1 tablespoon of Powdered Borax

1 cup of Water

Various Food colorings of your choice

One measuring cup

An empty plastic soda container

One small plastic zip-loc bag

Step by Step

  1. Initially mix the Borax powder with the water together in the soda bottle.
  2. Place the soda bottle cap on and shake the bottle vigorously ensuring the Borax has completely dissolved
  3. Place 1 tablespoon of the Elmer’s glue into the plastic bag
  4. Add one teaspoon of tap water
  5. You may now add one or two drops of your favorite food coloring
  6. Add 1 tablespoon of the mixed Borax to your Zip-loc bag and then seal it
  7. Proceed to massage the mixture in the bag for a few moments

The contents of the bag will slowly take on the silly putty texture. Whenever you may remove your putty from the Zip-loc in a single clump begin rolling it in your hands and fingers. The more that you can roll the imitation putty in your fingers then the more it will resemble the real thing.

Hints and Tips

I would like to inject a statement caution at this point. Borax should never be consumed by humans and as such proper adult supervision should be extended to children when they are playing with this product.

Copyright @2008 Joseph Parish



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