Making slime with Borax

Like most kids these days, my daughter loves making slime. The recipe she uses calls for borax and glue. Is it safe to play with slime made from borax?

Suddenly, the Amazon Prime order popped up on my phone: 2 gallons of glue, 4 bottles of saline solution, 2 boxes of baking soda, food coloring, glitter and 5 packages of mini foam balls. Yes, my children do know how to order things on Amazon Prime (and charge it to me) but what on earth was going on? The large order of glue suggested to me that something really big and important had been broken, and this was the kids’ attempt to put it back together (not so secretly). But  the rest of the order stumped me. Three sofa stains, 1 jacket stain, and about 20 carpet stains later, my basement has turned into a slime factory.

My daughter can make all colors and textures of slime, and she can whip it up in a jiffy. I still don’t quite understand the fascination with slime, but I have spent some time researching what ingredients are safe to use, especially after my daughter made a slime recipe containing borax and then experienced a burning sensation on her hands.

What is borax?

Borax is an ingredient in many household laundry and cleaning products, and in the 1800s it was considered a must-have item in a medicine cabinet to use as an antiseptic for wounds. Borax, also known as sodium tetraborate, is a mineral that naturally occurs when a lake bed evaporates. While generally considered non-toxic in the form of borax (not to be confused with boric acid), it is recommended you avoid eye contact, ingestion or prolonged skin contact.

Based on these recommendations, and given the many other ingredients that can be used to make slime, I’ve thrown away the borax in our house. We still have a slime factory, but this way I know that the ingredients my daughter is using are not linked to any safety reports of burns or other concerns.

As always, remember to keep the poison control number handy for ingestions 1-800-222-1222.


Danielle Dooley Danielle Dooley, MD, is a general pediatrician who specializes in immigrant child health and school health. As Medical Director of Community Affairs and Population Health, she provides advocacy education for residents and faculty, participates in a new social determinants of health resource connection initiative within the primary care clinics and develops collaborations and strategies to improve population health for children across the institution and the District of Columbia.

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