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Periodic Graphics: The chemistry of slime

Chemical educator and Compound Interest blogger Andy Brunning wrings all the molecular details out of the popular goo

by Andy Brunning
June 13, 2018 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 96, ISSUE 25



To download a pdf of this article, visit

References used to create this graphic:

The gelation of polyvinyl alcohol with borax

The gelation of poly(vinyl alcohol) with Na2B4O7 10H2O

"Slime” may not be so benign: A cause of hand dermatitis

Polyvinyl alcohol-borax slime as promising polyelectrolyte for high-performance, easy-to-make electrochromic devices

Classic chemistry experiments: Polymer slime

A collaboration between C&EN and Andy Brunning, author of the popular graphics blog Compound Interest

To see more of Brunning’s work, go to To see all of C&EN’s Periodic Graphics, visit


CORRECTION: This story was updated on July 3, 2018, to correct the structure of borax and the predominant cross-linking structure in slime. The cross-links are mainly borate ester linkages, not hydrogen bonds. Both errors are present in many sources online, including journal articles and chemical catalogs. To learn more about our investigation into the matter, read this story.

This article has been translated into Spanish by and can be found here.



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Lauren Wolf (June 22, 2018 12:26 PM)
NOTE: C&EN has received two notes from readers suggesting that the cross-linking chemistry depicted in this graphic is incorrect. There was also a suggestion that the structure for borax is incorrect. All of these pieces of information were taken from published sources. So we are currently investigating and will make a correction soon, if appropriate. Please stay tuned.

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