Chloe Hawkins names her homemade slime.
The 13-year-old seventh-grader from Center Moriches sells the colorful, gloopy, stretchy stuff for $5 through her Slime Moons shop on Etsy.com, and she wants to market it with catchy monikers.
Minion Slime is bright yellow, like animated characters in the “Minions” movies. Galaxy of Glitter Slime is deep blue with glitter and star and moon-shaped pieces in it. Sonic Death Monkey Floam is brown with white microbeads in it.
Hawkins is capitalizing on this school year’s international craze — goodbye to the bottle-flipping fad and hello to elementary and middle schoolers playing with slime, stretching it like taffy, swooping it like they’re making pretzels, and sticking fingers into it to make suction-y popping noises.
This slime is thicker than the liquidy, neon-green stuff Nickelodeon TV has dumped on stars during its annual “Kids’ Choice” awards — it’s closer to the consistency of Play-Doh. But even Nickelodeon is getting into the act — partnering with Cra-Z-Art to come out with a slime kit to make a firmer version that will be on toy shelves April 1 called Nickelodeon Slime.
Hawkins promotes her slime as helping people relax. “The texture of it and the sounds of it just kind of calms people down,” she says.
Says Amanda Dalimonte, 13, an eighth-grader at Weber Middle School in Port Washington: “I just think everyone loves it because of the feeling of it. It’s fun to touch. Pretty much everyone has it at school.”
The slime fad spread, kids say, like many fads these days — through Instagram and YouTube. There are more than two million #slime social media posts on Instagram, for instance. How-to YouTube videos teach kids to make various kinds of slime, including butter slime, which can spread like butter, and fluffy slime, which incorporates shaving cream to give the slime more, well, fluff. So many kids are making their own slime to play with or sell that the craft store A.C. Moore has $21.99 gallon jugs of Elmer’s glue — glue being the primary ingredient in slime — stacked in a display at the entrance of its store on Hempstead Turnpike in Bethpage.
To make slime — and it’s primarily girls who are making and playing with the stuff — kids add ingredients to the glue, including an activator such as borax or household laundry detergent, food coloring or acrylic paint for color, and lotions to make the slime stretchy. They can also add beads or other ingredients for texture. Then they knead it, with the goal of making it stretchy but not sticky. A batch takes just minutes to mix up, and many kids carry it in plastic deli-department style containers so it doesn’t dry out.
Nicole Ricketts, 10, a fifth-grader from Bethpage, recently made 20 containers of slime to give away as prizes at a Girl Scouts event. “We play with it at recess and lunch,” she says. Nicole favors the fluffy slime.
Her mom, Ann, says she doesn’t mind the lab her daughter has set up in their dining room — although she did draw the line at her daughter using her Bath & Body Works lotions, instead taking her to buy more inexpensive options. “It keeps her off the iPad,” Ann says. “She’s learning how to mix and measure and do some science stuff.”
There is a science lesson involved in the slime process, confirms Kathleen Gaghan, lead science teacher for Saltzman East Memorial Elementary School in Farmingdale, where the second and fourth grades this year actually made slime as a class activity. “It teaches them mixtures and solutions,” Gaghan says. “It’s not magic, it’s science.”
And if kids sell it, like Hawkins, they’re learning business skills and entrepreneurship, says Hawkins’ mom, Molly. Hawkins has sold 31 containers of slime, shipping it as far as California and plowing her meager earnings back into her slime operation. She has close to 5,000 followers on her Slime Moons Instagram site, where, for kids who also make their own slime, she’s happy to troubleshoot. Slime isn’t stretchy enough? Add more lotion, she’ll advise.
“It’s fun to play with and collect,” says Julia Rapaccuiolo, 13, of Port Washington, who makes slime along with her younger sister, Ava, 8. “I have like ten right now,” she says of her varieties of slime. “There are different colors, some have sparkles in them, different textures.”
How safe is it for kids to be making all this slime?
“My 12-year-old daughter is doing it — I’m very familiar with it,” says Dr. William Spencer, a Huntington-based pediatric ear, nose and throat specialist. Most of the questions parents have raised center around borax, which is a laundry detergent additive. “Used properly and handled externally, there’s no substantial risk,” Spencer says.
Borax isn’t the same as the boric acid used as a pesticide, says Dr. Michael Grosso, a pediatrician and chief medical officer at Huntington Hospital. It’s only high levels of borax ingestion that might cause toxicity, both doctors say. In other words, don’t eat it. “It’s toxic like salt — if you eat a ton of it, it can create an issue,” Spencer says.
Once mixed, the colorful slime might be intriguing to younger children who might put it in their mouths, Spencer adds. “My advice to parents would be to keep the little ones away from it,” he says. And you don’t want kids to be fooling around while making the slime. “Under 10, I think it should be supervised carefully by parents. You don’t want the kids when handling it to rub it in each other’s faces or put it in their eyes,” he says.
Because there are so many different slime recipes kids could be using, mixing various lotions as well as borax or other ingredients, Huntington dermatologist Dr. Phyllis Smith recommends that kids wear powder-free nonallergenic gloves while mixing the raw elements to protect their skin from allergic reactions or irritation. “It certainly makes sense to wear gloves. It can’t hurt,” Smith says.