Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Squishy Fun (Turning Water to Gel and Back Again)

I came across this at the end of last week Squishy Baff H2Goo.  I was intrigued by it but did not want to spend the money to order it.  I was also unsure about actually letting my kids bathe in it, so I started researching.  I discovered it was made from Sodium Polyacrylate which happens to be the same stuff they use to make disposable diapers absorbent.  Looking further I found the second ingredient was Sodium Chloride; just plain salt. Well, I have a few disposables around for Grandma and Daddy and any other baby sitter to use, and I certainly have salt, so I wanted to try it.  First I just tried it on a very small scale in a Tupperware dish.  I cut open the diaper and collected all the crystals I could into the dish then added water.  No surprise, I got gel.  Then I sprinkled with salt and waited a few minutes.  Ah ha! I have water again! It didn't all go back to water, but most of it did.  Maybe I didn't use the right amount, or maybe since the crystals had some of the cottony stuff and the salt had iodine it didn't work completely.  Oh well, still cool.  So I decided to try it on a larger scale with the water table and some water beads.  I harvested crystals from 5 diapers and tried to pick out as much cottony stuff as I could.  I added it and water beads to the table along with some water.  Then we got a call to go to lunch with a friend, so we left our project to return later.

I found cutting into the outside of the diaper was easiest.
The sparkly things are the Sodium polyacrylate crystals

You get some of the cottony stuff too .
Just pull it out and you are left with crystals.

Sprinkle the crystals on water and you get gel.

When we returned the water was pink from some of the water beads bursting because they sucked up so much water out in the heat.  The gel was very broken up as well, so I collected what I could and went to harvest more diapers. Once I had my gel, back into the water table it went.  Well, first the water table came inside to avoid the 100 degree temperature outside (again)!

Before it went back into the table.
You can see the gel surrounding the water beads,

Squishing it.
The girls had fun playing with it for a while, but they really enjoyed it once I gave them shovels and threw in some marbles for them to dig for.  The instantly started digging for their treasure!

You can see the gel all around the yellow part where the girls dumped it in the column.


Once Eli got up from his nap he joined in the digging fun.  Although he was trying to use the shovel as a spoon instead.

After getting after Eli to stop trying to eat the gel I decided it was time to turn it back into water.  I sprinkled the top with water and waited a few minutes.

With salt sprinkled on top.

You could see the water oozing out all around the beads.  After stirring it most all the gel was liquid again.

Water again!
Shoveling the water all over the kitchen floor.
 There was still some where the salt couldn't reach, so I rinsed it all out and added new water.  Now Eli could use his shovel to drink much more safely. Which he immediately tried to do.

The girls did put some in little bags before turning it back to water, so we can still play with it again.

It is definitely cool to watch it turn back into water (see video below), so I am sure we will play with this again.  I am thinking the gel they use for flowers may be the same stuff, so I am going to look into that.  Diapers were certainly cheaper though!