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Dish soap slime

You will need:

 
  • Detergent, either dishwashing liquid, hand soap, or shampoo
  • Food colouring/glitter (optional)
  • Table salt
  • A container

    A bottle of pink hand soap, a green bowl, red food colouring, bottle of blue glitter, a spoon and a shaker of salt on a brown table

Instructions
 

  1. Squeeze some detergent into the container.
     
  2. Add colour or glitter for a sparkly effect!
     
  3. Sprinkle over a pinch of salt, then mix well with a spoon.

    Hand grabbing glittery pink slime out of a green plastic bowl with a spoon in it
     
  4. Repeat step 3 until a slime consistency is reach. Each addition could take a minute or so to mix in so be patient.


Troubleshooting

  • If too much salt is added and the mixture becomes runny again, add a bit more detergent and mix.

    Pink slime being poured from a green bowl onto a white plate on a brown table

A hand full of green slime with a plastic container of green slime in the background
Slime made from dishwashing liquid and soap!

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What is the happening?

 
Dish detergent, shampoo, hand soap, and anything else you might use to wash things contain surfactants. A surfactant is usually a molecule with a hydrophilic "head" and a hydrophobic "tail". This means that it is able to bridge between water soluble and oil-soluble interfaces. An anionic surfactant is one with an anionic functional group at the "head" position. They are the most common surfactants used in industry, typical examples are lauryl sulfates, laureth sulfates, sulfonates and phosphate esters. If your soapy liquid of choice has one of these chemicals in its long list of ingredients, it should make a slime when you add just the right amount of salt to it.

When surfactants are in solution they can sometimes arrange themselves into these aggregate units called micelles, where all the surfactant molecules have their "tails" pointing inwards and "heads" pointing outwards, or vice versa. In the detergents that we used to make the slime, the micelles formed have anionic "head" groups sticking out into the solution, with their hydrophobic "tails" in the centre. This gives the micelles a certain charge density on its outer surface, which can be affected by the addition of salt. The ions from the dissolved salt, at the right concentration, can cause bigger micelles to form and pack closer together, resulting in a thicker mixture or gelling effect. But if salt concentrations are pushed beyond that optimal level, the micelle structures can breakdown and the mixture viscosity will decrease.

For more slime recipes and experiments, check out our comprehensive guide to SLIME!

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