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This styrofoam slime is also an amazing science lesson. Did you know that when you put styrofoam in pure acetone it will make the styrofoam melt down to almost nothing? Now, I say melt, but that’s not really the case. It’s more like dissolving, or changing form. It is a bit complicated, so I will explain. (If you are looking for Floam Slime made from styrofoam balls, check out this post.)
First let me show you what we did.
You can watch it here, or read on for instructions!
How to Make Styrofoam Slime
You’ll need just two supplies for the styrofoam slime experiment: Styrofoam cups or beads or peanuts & pure acetone. It needs to be pure acetone, not regular nail polish remover.
To do this experiment, you only need to put acetone into a bowl or pan and place styrofoam into it. Or you can just pour the acetone over the top for the styrofoam. The acetone will go a long way. We used one small bottle and it dissolved more than a dozen cups.
We drew snowmen on our cups, just for fun.
You can help it along by moving the cups around in the acetone, or just sit back and watch it dissolve. Any surface of the styrofoam touching acetone will dissolve.
SAFETY NOTE: Now here is a bit of a caution. These are strong chemicals with a lot of fumes. We opened windows and had our kitchen fan on filtering out the air as we did this experiment. If you can do it outside, I would highly recommend that. You may also want to use gloves when doing this experiment as it could be harmful to your skin, too. My kids did not use gloves and were totally fine, but if doing it in a school setting, safety is definitely preferred!
Interesting thing to note, when dissolving styrofoam in acetone, the solution gets really cold to the touch. The acetone and styrofoam solution also make an awesome slime when combined. Once the styrofoam is fully dissolved it is stretchy and fun to play with. Then if you mold it into a shape it will dry that way into a hard plastic.
How the Acetone and Styrofoam Experiment Works
Styrofoam is made out of polystyrene foam. This means it is a polymer, or a long chain of molecules. When it is created, they inject gasses into it to make it full of pockets of air. This makes it very lightweight. It is actually 95% air!
When it is placed into the acetone, the acetone splits up those long chains. The air is released from the foam and it shrinks down to practically nothing!
Acetone is most commonly found in nail polish remover, but you can also find it in other cleaning products. Acetone is an organic solvent. A solvent is something that dissolves another substance in it and creates a solution. Just like salt dissolves in water this is only a physical reaction. Although it seems more like a chemical reaction! Since acetone is a solvent, it is strong enough to dissolve or affect other plastics, so be careful what containers you use for this experiment.
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