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Borax In Home-Made Slime Has Caused Serious Burns To Children

Homemade “slime” became a viral fad over the past year, even to the point that kids have depleted whole towns of the supply of white school glue. But some parents are thinking twice about letting their children make their own slime now that the borax used to create the substance has been linked to severe chemical burns.

Borax (sodium borate) is one of the active ingredients of homemade slime (also known as flubber, oobleck or glurch). Borax is a caustic substance chiefly used in laundry detergents and household cleaners. While in most cases, borax only mildly irritates the skin, it can potentially leave kids with serious second-and-third-degree burns.

Factors affecting the severity of chemical burns

An 11-year-old girl in Massachusetts suffered severe burn injury to her hands after making and playing with slime at a sleepover. In England, a 10-year-old girl suffered similar chemical injuries. Their skin blistered, then peeled. In the aftermath, their hands have remained red, itchy and constantly painful. The girls are unable to grasp normal objects without pain and require splints and medical therapy to keep their hands from permanently curling.

The severity of a burn your child may experience when using borax to make slime may depend on the concentration of borax used and the length of exposure. The longer the exposure, the higher the risk of your child suffering a serious burn. One of the girls who was badly burned had made slime every day for several days. The strength of the chemical, too, affects the severity of your child’s burn, so the risk level increases with larger amounts of the product or direct contact with borax before it is mixed with other ingredients.

Some children are simply more sensitive to chemicals like borax. For instance, skin thickness also plays a role in vulnerability to burns, with children who have thinner skin facing a more significant risk than those with thicker skin.

The aftermath of a chemical burn

The odds of a severe burn increase if the chemical concentration is especially high, or if the child plays with the slime for an extended period. Children who experience burning or redness should stop using the slime and rinse their hands under (cold) water for 10 to 20 minutes. If there is blistering, seek medical treatment immediately.

Second-degree burns can cause blisters that can takes weeks to heal, and infections can develop along the way. Third-degree burns can cause damage to muscles, tendons and other tissues. Sometimes, third-degree burns warrant plastic surgery or skin grafts, and they can take months to heal properly. Third-degree chemical burns may cause permanent nerve damage or discoloration.

Slime can still be safe and fun

Educating your kids about the risks involved may lead them to cease slime-making of their own accord. Most kids suffer no harm from making and playing with homemade borax slime. But at a minimum, the process should supervised by an adult to minimize the possibility of burns or to render first aid immediately if a child has a reaction.

Better yet, steer them to alternative recipes for slime that do not require borax. Slime variants can be made with corn starch, baby powder, powdered fiber or liquid soap. There is even an edible slime made with sweetened condensed milk!


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