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The National MagLab is funded by the National Science Foundation and the State of Florida.

Shapeshifting Slime

It’s slime time! Use the recipes below to make your own ooey gooey slime and explore its shapeshifting states of matter.

We often think of the states of matter as solid, liquid, and gas. But there are many exotic states of matter studied at the National MagLab, like quantum spin liquids and Bose-Einstein condensates. Scientists are even using high magnetic fields at the MagLab to discover new states!

But you can explore a material that behaves strangely without even leaving your kitchen: slime. Is it a liquid? A solid? It’s both! Use the recipes below to make your own oobleck or butter slime using ingredients you probably have at home. It’s fun to play with, and you can get messy while learning all about strange states of matter.

The Science

Oobleck and butter slime are non-Newtonian fluids. They have characteristics of both liquids and solids. Their viscosity, or flow behavior, can change even when temperature is steady. By squeezing, stirring, agitating, or applying pressure, you can change the fluid’s characteristics from liquid to solid. This is different from Newtonian fluids, such as water, which have a constant flow unless the temperature changes. Then they turn into a solid or a gas!

The slimes get their fluid properties because of polymers, which are long chains of repeating molecules.

In the recipes here, the polymers are cornstarch particles, long chains of relatively large solid cornstarch molecules. Smaller water molecules flow past each other and between cornstarch molecules, allowing the chains to slide around easily. When you squeeze or press, the water is temporarily forced out of the mixture and the long chains of starch molecules are pressing against each other, making the mixture behave like a solid.

What you’ll need and what you’ll do:



  • 2 plastic bowls
  • 1 cup cornstarch (2:1 ratio - double the amount of cornstarch to water)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1-3 drops of either gel or liquid food coloring (optional - food coloring can temporarily stain hands and permanently stain fabric!)
  • Plastic bag or container that is sealable for storage (optional)


  1. Put the water and food coloring in a bowl. Mix water and food coloring until it is completely tinted.
  2. Pour the cornstarch into a bowl.
  3. Slowly add the water with the cornstarch while you stir or knead. You may feel the mixture “pull” as you stir, but this is normal. Keep on mixing until everything is well combined.
  4. The result should have the consistency of honey.

Butter Slime


  • 1/2 cup of cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup of clear dish soap
  • 1-3 drops of either gel or liquid food coloring (optional - food coloring can temporarily stain hands and permanently stain fabric!)
  • Plastic bag or container that is sealable for storage (optional)


  1. Mix cornstarch and dish soap. Use a spoon to mix things at the beginning, but once the cornstarch has mostly been incorporated to the dish soap, feel free to use your hands!
  2. Squeeze a few drops of food coloring into the mixture and continue kneading/mixing.
  3. After about five minutes of mixing, the slime should be ready. It’ll have a consistency that’s between Play-Doh and slime made with glue (if it’s too sticky, sprinkle in a little more cornstarch. If it’s crumbly, add 2-3 more drops of dish soap).
  4. When you're done playing with your slime, put it into a plastic container that has a lid. When you want to use it again, just massage it with your hands a few times to work out any stiffness and enjoy!
  5. If kept in an airtight container, the slime should last 2-3 weeks. Once it has dried out, it's time to throw it away and make a new batch.

Good Things to Know:

  • If you store the airtight container in the fridge, you can get slime to last as long as a month without drying out or molding.
  • When it’s time to dispose of the slime, do not pour it down the drain. It may separate and become a hard clump of cornstarch!

Think quick

  • What does the slime feel like?
  • How would you describe the difference between the Ooblek and butter slime?
  • What happens when you squeeze the slime?
  • How does the slime behave like a solid?
  • How does the slime behave like a liquid?
  • What happens when you poke your finger into the slime? What about when you slap it with your whole hand?

Download print version

Shapeshifting Slimes worksheet cover

Download shapeshifting slimes activity - PDF (1.06 MB)