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Make your own imitation Floam

[I realize this doesn't fit in the Beyond Satire theme. Consider this our holiday present to you.]

Children have been clamoring for Floam™, a micro-beaded modeling clay that has been heavily and attractively advertised. Unfortunately, people who have ordered Floam™ report long delays and deceptive business practices. Instead, make your own Floam™-like clay in whatever quantities and colors you like.

We found several anonymous recipes online. My husband Keith Golden tried three different recipes, then refined the best one. The result is virtually identical to Floam™ (except for smelling better). My major contribution was tracking down the polystyrene beads. (Note that the text on this site is covered by a Creative Commons license permitting reproduction with attribution for non-commercial purposes.)

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. borax (available in laundry aisle at your grocery store)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white glue (we used Elmer's)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • food coloring (otherwise it will look like cottage cheese)
  • an air-tight plastic bag (for mixing and storage)
  • 5/3 cups of polystyrene beads (we used 2/3 cups micro-beads and 1 cup bean bag filler)

Floam™ is made with polystyrene (aka Styrofoam™) beads ranging in size from about 1 mm to 1/8 inch in diameter. You can make an approximation of the beads at home by grating polystyrene cups, packing material etc., although we did not try this. We bought two different types of beads:

  • Micro-beads (about 1 mm in diameter), which we found at a Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts store. We had to call several stores before finding one that sold them. They can be ordered from Roseann's Dolls.
  • 1/8" beads, sometimes called "milk bottle filler" or "bean bag filler", which we bought on eBay but you can also buy through Roseann's Dolls.

Instructions

  1. Dissolve 2 tsp. borax completely in 1/2 cup (4 oz.) water. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl mix 1/4 cup (2 oz.) white glue and 1/4 cup (2 oz.) water. Optionally add food coloring.
  3. Pour the glue solution into the air-tight bag. Then add 3 tbsp. (9 tsp.) of the borax/water solution to the glue solution. Do not mix them yet. You will have some borax/water solution left for another batch.
  4. Add the polystyrene beads.
  5. Seal bag and knead by hand until thoroughly mixed. Let stand about 15 minutes, and then knead a few minutes more.

This should produce a hard clay well suited for sculpting; for a more malleable clay, use fewer beads and optionally less of the borax solution.

Notes

  • The polystyrene beads will get everywhere.
  • We read but did not try this tip: "If you have access to a chemical supply house, try a 4% solution of polyvinyl alcohol instead of glue for a less rubbery polymer. It will be more transparent & show off color better." Simon Quellen Field added: "Polyvinyl alcohol is easy to get: It's used in artificial tears (and of course, white glue). On that web site you will find a hundred or so synonyms -- looking them up will likely get you better prices."
  • You can read safety information about borax.
  • The main difference we could detect between this and Floam™ is that ours smells like glue, while theirs smells like stinky chemicals.
  • Do not eat or taunt.

If you make some and have photos or suggestions, we'd be happy to post or link to them.

Update (January 7, 2006)

Some commenters have reported problems with this recipe. If the recipe worked for you, could you reply, so I get an idea whether this works for most people. It would also be great if you have any advice for the people having problems.

Update (January 8, 2006)

We added some details to the instructions, such as that the two solutions should not be mixed together in step 3. (They are mixed in step 5.)

Update (January 15, 2006)

Readers have reported problems when using "PVA glue" but success when using glue that lists "PVA alcohol" as an ingredient.

Update (April 24, 2006)

In December, I tried buying beads over ebay from 246daisy246. I never received the beads, and she got nasty when I asked to see the proof of delivery she claimed to have. I only got a refund after complaining to PayPal. I believe she has been posting misleading comments recommending herself. I replied to the first and have been deleting the rest.

Update (May 20, 2006)

Today I disabled further comments on this article. While there have been some excellent comments, there have also been many flames and spam I've had to delete, especially from sleazy ebayers. I repeat my recommendation not to buy floam beads (or anything else) from 246daisy246.

Update (June 15, 2006)

Snarlia sent me a link to her helpful information on making floam, including where to buy the ingredients.

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Comments

thanks man i'll try it

Awesome. And making it together with our Godson will itself be a cool experience...

> Do not eat or taunt.

I am proud to say that I recognized this reference instantly. And it still cracked me up.

Hi many thanks for youre great recipe could you tell me if you know of a Borax substitute for the uk.i don't think they sell it here?
Thanks lynn

Hi
Boots the chemist sell Borax.

What is HAPPY fun ball?????? Karen

Happy fun ball

Okay, the floam might be more work than worth the trouble, but I love your sense of humor! Hilarious reference! Thanks! :-)

Can I make a Happy Fun Ball from this pseudo-floam?

Only if you can track down the substance that fell from space.

My mother-in-law tells me you can get Borax in the UK but she's not sure where - chemist or supermarket?

thegreenshop.co.uk £3.50 per 500g
Sharon

Boots the Chemist sell Borax

I'm in California, well Southern California, and today I went to Target, and in the laundry section, they had Borax.

Does this recipe really work? Is it just like the kind on t.v? i hope it is. all together if you but it on t.v. it is almost $30.00 that is quite expensive.

i tried your recipe and it worked now i wont have to pay regular price for no reason (i was told that the ones sold off of the tv are junk!!)

This is very easy to make. We had a problem finding the beads around were we live. But finally found a hugh bag 2 cubic feet, at a fabric store for $12, but it was well worth the fun. Found the box of Borax @ Meijer for under $4.00 and the glue was .27 per bottle.

I was just about to spend a buck on ebay for the recipe...Thank you for posting it online AND perfecting it as well! I can't wait to try it! Happy New Year! Lynn

Anyone have any suggestions as to where to buy them over here? Borx will be the next hunt I guess....! Many thanks for the recipe.

I got mine off of ebay, dan Zoretich, 216 Devon Dr., Johnston PA 15904, very cheap, and the borax is in the laundry section at walmart.
Mel48

You can buy Borax in Boots, tucked away next to washing powder and dishwasher tablets

Thanks for the recipe. We are making it for my daughter's birthday. :P

I'm likinz yours usage of vocabs. I'se be wishin i'se could talks like youse.

Interesting side note: If you eliminate the beads and dilute the glue with water as well as the borax before mixing them together (and you'll have to mix them A LOT) The result will be homemade silly putty instead of homemade floam. The recipes are that similar.

i have a question, and i hope you can help me. after making the homemade floam with this recipe, i am finding that my beads do not stick at all to the solution. and i used the exact recipe. do you use a certain type of borax, or are they all the same? please email me soon, i really need your help on this, because maybe you know what i am doing wrong. thanks.

The beads don't actually stick to the solution. They get embedded in it after kneading. Could you be more specific about the problem? All borax should be the same.

while playing with the floam the beads fall off. and it gets too firm and it will not stretch. is the 20 mule team borax ok to use in this recipe?

We used 20 mule team.

Could you be confusing teaspoons with tablespoons?

Borax is a skin irritant.

Also essentially roach/rat poison. Hope your kid doesn't get "curiously" hungry, or decide to feed Fido...

Acute toxicity (poisoning):

Reported effects: Symptoms of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In children, swallowing 5 to 10 grams can cause shockand death. Borax is rapidly absorbed through damaged skin.

Chronic toxicity:

Reported effects: Chronic exposure to borax caused chronic eczema in industrial workers. Workers chronically exposed to borax dust developed respiratory irritation. Symptoms of chronic poisoning include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, digestive disturbances, and a rash.

Have fun.........

I live in a warm climate, where roaches abound, we always (as my mother did when I was a child) spread boric acid around the house, under counters, into carpets, behind the frig. Fairly harmless stuff.

There won't be borax dust in the air when you mix granules with water. Also, there's a difference in playing with floam for a few minutes a week vs working with raw borax 8hrs a day 52 weeks a year. That's why the advisory is for CHRONIC exposure to the raw mineral.

Borax is sodium tetraborate decahydrate. It's a detergent used in some rest room sinks. You shouldn't breathe it or eat it. It can cause skin irritation, but I think Annonymous (future lawyer, but certainly no chemist?) is over-reacting, and confusing Borax with Boric Acid, which is sometimes used as a roach poison (different stuff).

from MSDS:
(lowest demonstrated lethal dose by oral injestion of an infant was 1 gram per kilogram of body mass)
(lowest demonstrated lethal dose by oral injestion of a man was 1 gram per kilogram of body mass)

So assume that you'd allow your 30 pound child to be unsupervised with this Floam, and that your 30 pound child eats everything. 30 pounds = 13.6 kg. 13 grams is a big old pile of nasty-tasting stuff they'd have to eat. I'm guessing the recipe above would have 2-3 grams of Borax. So they'd have to eat a huge pile of floam to kill themselves by sodium tetraborate. I'm guessing polystyrene beads would be more of a problem. But, hey, my children eat their dinners, not their clay.

Roach poison is boric acid. It's not a particularly strong acid. You shouldn't breathe it or eat it. It's more poisonous by injestion than Borax.

from MSDS: (lowest demonstrated lethal dose by oral injestion of a woman was 0.2 gram per kilogram of body mass)

now we have a use for that old bean bag that we wanted to get rid of... it's full of styrofoam balls. woot!

make sure it's the non-permanent food coloring, water based i think... otherwise you'll stain everything it touches.

How nice you are to post the receipe here, for everyone to enjoy making with their children CHEERS TO YOU
AJN

We ordered some Floam using Froogle to search for a source. I think we bought it from the TV people. Though we ordered it a week before Christmas, it only came yesterday--over 3 weeks. What we got was dried out and gross. Turned us off Floam entirely. But, if what we got wasn't the right quality, then maybe we can give this recipe a shot.

Either way, I've been wondering about making our own bean bags, but didn't know where to get the beads. Thanks for the shopping links!

You can also buy the microbeads at Walmart in the fabric section.

You don't have to make it or risk an internet purchase if you don't want to -- Floam is available at Target.

But it stinks (as you say) and it stains like crazy. So making my own is an attractive option - if it solves these problems. Someone mentioned non-staining food coloring. Is there such a thing, and does it work in this application?

I too can not get the beads to stick. It just breaks apart. I have tried over fifteen time with no success and I am not mixing up tsp and tbsp. You can not roll it in a ball or strech it or form it in any way. I was in tears tonight. My kids were so excited and I can't get it to work. Any clue?

What type of glue are you using? We used Elmer's glue. The other person having problems used a different type.

I am so sorry for your and your children's frustration.

I sounds like perhaps you've used too much of the 8% borax solution. Did you add the entire 1/2 cup by mistake? Try using just 2Tbsp of it at first, massage to throughly mix, then let it rest for 15 minutes. It won't harden right away when you add it in. It needs to to setup and form the polymer. Add more by 1/2 Tbsp at a time, mix, and let it rest more. Be patient.

We just clarified step 3 above. Did you perhaps mix the two solutions together before adding the beads?

You said the beads get everywhere. do you mean when your making it or when your playing with it too. My beads will not stay in the mixure. They fall off all over the place abd it is not very plyable. Thanks

I meant that the beads get everywhere as soon as you open the package. Some fall out of the floam, but not a lot.

What type of glue are you using? We've been using Elmer's.

In general, you can increase squishiness by decreasing the amount of borax-water solution that you add to the glue-water solution.

you need to add less beads. I tried the way it was listed and it was really dry but then I just added less beads and it worked great!

LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE.
I like to write songs.

I HAVE TRIED OVER AND OVER TO GET THIS TO WORK. I HAVE GONE THRU OVER 13 BOTTLES OF GLUE, USING EVERY BRAND INCLUDING ELMERS. I EVEN USED BOTTLED WATER. THE ONLY THING I DIDN'T CHANGE WAS THE BAGS. AFTER I MADE THE MESS, I WAS DETERMINED TO GET IT TO WORK. I FAILED AND WASTED HALF A DAY DOING IT. I DO NOT LIKE TO FAIL. I AM SAD MY KIDS ARE BUMMED. I WASTED MONEY AND GOT A HORRIBLE RESULT. JUST BUY THE REAL THING. THIS DOES NOT WORK. IF YOU CAN THINK OF SOMETHING I MISSED, FEEL FREE TO LET ME KNOW.

I'm so sorry you had a bad experience. This recipe has worked for us several times, so it was posted in good faith. I am genuinely sorry it didn't work for you.

I am sorry to hear you did not get this to work. But my daughter nagged at me to try anyway even after reading all posts, so out i went to buy the ingrediants it took 3 attempts to get it right.
Try this way it worked 4 me. I mixed 1tsp borax with 4oz (1/2 cup) water (tepid) in one bowl, then 2oz (1/4 cup) water to the same of white glue (just ordinary cheep glue)1 drop food colouring.
first pour the glue solution into the bag as near to the bottom as possible then add 4 tbsp of the borax solution and then the beads i put aprox 6oz zip up the bag and kneed.leave for about 5 mins take out bag and kneed till not sticky. should feel like mixture of slime/putty but not stick to you. hope this helps.

Well, I have read all the comments and recommendations re: floam and my 4 children and I are off to purchase the ingredients. I do hope it works. A friend of mine bought it off of t.v. and is still waiting for it to arrive. I also heard that koolaid could be used for coloring floam. Added benefit to koolaid is that it makes the borax smell better. I will let you know how it turns out. I will try it both ways: 1 with food coloring and 1 with koolaid. Thanks for the recipe.

Suzanne
Texas

can you disribe what it should be like in the end result. can you roll it, shape, stick it to things. all mine did was break apart no matter how much borax I used. and the bead just went everywhere. they did not stay in the mix. when you add the borax should it be sticky. mine never stuck to the bag, it came right off in clums right away. I waited 15 miniutes, but there was no need to it was the same as when i first mixed it up. please help. i so want this to work. thanks.

We just clarified step 3 above. Did you perhaps mix the two solutions together before adding the beads?

I have had the same problem - I have tried to vary the amount of borax in the solution and tried mixing the beads with the glue first and then adding borax but every time it just goes rubbery, not at all sticky and the beads fall out. Did you find a solution? I wonder if the glue I'm using is the wrong kind, I'm in the UK so don't have Elmers, the glue I am using is just called "PVA glue"

Someone emailed me that PVA glue didn't work. Apparently, you need a glue that lists "PVA alcohol" as an ingredient.

Has anyone tried to buy polyvinyl alcohol? or should we just stick with using glue?

Is it possible that the areas in which everyone lives may depend on how well the recipe comes out. Just a wild thought, being that it can make a difference when cooking.

We made the recipes in California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, without problem. All are places with low altitudes but varying degrees of humidity.

I haven't tried this particular recipe, but the base polymer is a lot like "gack". You will get different results when using Elmer's type white glue (polyvinyl acetate, PVAc) than when using polyvinyl alcohol solutions. Both will crosslink (gel) with borate solutions, and are very sensitive to it. If you add too much borate it will make the gel harder and less pliable.
I wouldn't get too worked up over the warnings on the MSDS's for these products. They are fairly harmless materials. Just don't eat them or get them in your eyes.
The commercial product probably contains a mild biocide to keep down growies, which may account for it's "chemical" smell.

This post hit the nail on the head:

If you add too much borate it will make the gel harder and less pliable.

Try experimenting with a lighter solution, say start with 4% borax and work up from there. This recipe would appear to be about an 8% solution. I personally had good results with about a 6% solution. (Instead of 2 tsp of borax to 1/2 cup water, I used one tbsp borax to one cup of water - I then added about 1/3 to 1/2 of a cup of this solution to the 50% glue solution. Worked a treat.)

Has anyone experimented yet with various water temperatures? I'm curious is that has a bearing on the crosslinking reaction.

You might get better adhesion of the polystyrene beads to the gel if you add the beads to the glue mix and allow them to soak for a while, then add the borax crosslinker to gel.

I just tried this recipe yesterday and it works great! Some highlights I do want to point out.

- I noticed that there were many different kinds of Elmer's white glue at the supply store. For instance, there were these "easy clean-up, water based" ones - I didn't get any of these new formulations. I just got the good old Elmer's white glue.
- I used the 1 gallon freezer bag, lots of room to work in and no worries about leaks even when you rough handle it during the massaging.
- I used a weaker diluted borax solution and added in 2Tbsp initially, then 1Tbsp at a time after mixing and letting it rest. I ended up working it for about an hour after using 6Tbsp in total.
- I made a second batch after adding 6Tbsp solution, mixing, and rest for 15 minutes, then knead slightly again. It worked out great!

Nice work and thanks for the recipe.

On the issue of molding. Potassium Sorbate is a food grade mold preventative used fairly widely in everyday processed foods. It's also used heavily in wine making as well. Would it work in this recipe?

I found one source for KSorbate on the net from a winemaker's supply store:

http://www.leeners.com/stablizers.html

I tried your recipe this afternoon. I added a little more of the borax mixture to the glue, and I had my husband to sit and really work the mixture together for at least 30 minutes. It worked wonderful. My kids were so excited... THANKS

I have never tried this. Could you repost the recipe with the corrected step 3? I'm not sure anymore what to mix with what and when? When purchasing food coloring, will it say "water-based" on the bottles for the non-staining kind?

I have revised the recipe above to include all clarifications.

As for food coloring, we just bought the regular cheapo kind you find at grocery stores.

Oh, also, how much Floam does the posted recipe yield?

Adding up the ingredients, between 2 and 3 cups.

Can you add the food coloring at any other time while making this batch? It sounds like you will end up with a big batch of one color.

I would like to make the Floam without color, then divide the batch into several smaller amounts and then use different colors in each batch. Is that do-able?

No, you need to mix the food coloring with the water-glue solution before adding the borax solution and the beads. You will have borax solution left over, however, for another batch.

If you want multiple colors with one batch, divide the water-glue solution into two or more bags and reduce the other ingredients accordingly.

I am having the best time reading this...really...I'm bookmarking the site for possible future making of the pseudo-floamy concoction...my 5 year old wants it desperately...I will not pay 60 bucks for something that will only last a day...thanks so much for the recipe...I think we'll try it this weekend...

> Has anyone tried to buy polyvinyl alcohol?

I've bought several varieties of polyvinyl alcohol, primarily for "slime" experiments:
The variety mentioned here (from "The Chemistry store" ) works quite well and
is especially easy to dissolve - disperse the powder in cold water and heat in a microwave,
stirring every minute or so, till it's clear.

The 4% base PVOH solution is perfectly clear, and easily dyed with food color and etc...

There is a problem with slime that I would imaging extends to floam;
once the borax has gelled part of the glue/pvoh, it's hard to get it
mixed into the rest of the solution. I think I would moisten the beads
with the borax first, and then add the glue/pvoh to help mix more
thoroughly...

Please someone help me here. Mine is very rubbery, more like a version of firm slime and the beads do not stay in it. what exactly is it suppose to feel/look like and what might be causing mine to come out so rubbery? i only used 1TBS borax/water solution.

This is a much easier way to make your own floam. After reading the problems of people ordering it, we decided to try it ourselves. We have made "flubber" numerous times, so it wasn't anything new, except for the foam beads. This recipe is very quick, makes a smaller amount, and only takes five minutes or less once you get it down. No half hour or hour of kneading.

Easy Floam

This makes a smaller amount of floam, but is still plenty, and is by far the easiest!

* Put 1 Tablespoon of white glue into a ziploc bag. (Not school glue!)
* Add 3 Tablespoons of water.
* Add food color of choice.
* Add about 3 ounces (one Dixie bathroom cup) foam beads.
* Add 1 teaspoon of Borax (laundry detergent). It must be Borax.*

Knead mixture in bag. If too watery, add more Borax 1/4 teaspoon at a time. Let stand 5 minutes

Thanks. I'll give it a try.

do you just add the powder borax? or do you dilute it first? Go Seahawks!

it works best if you disolve the borax in the water. Go STEELERS!

I tried the easy way last night and did everything exactly but, alas, no floam =( I got a gloppy mess that didn't hold the balls at all. They just fell or flew out and it was very frustrating at best. Today, however, I tried the same thing with the Micro beads and (ding, ding, ding) SUCCESS!!!! the only difference were the size of the beads. I used bean bag stuffing last night and regular old micro beads today. The second batch mixed perfectly and looked exactly like the real stuff.
Thanks so much for the "easy" recipe. It only took a couple of minutes and my boys are thrilled.

Now I have to find a food color that doesn't stain!!!
Carole

To this poster who created their own recipe: Thank you! I was looking for a recipe that maybe made a little bit less. I am aiming for one-8oz. container per color. How much Floam does your recipe make?

Also: You say do not use School Glue. Mine is Elmer's Glue-all Multi Purpose Glue, and it is white. Is this the right kind?

I was given the original flubber recipe by my daughter's preschool teacher. Her recipe, however, was to make enough for 20 kids! She warned me to not use school glue as it would not work. I am sure there must be other white glues that will work. I also use the Elmer's Glue-All and it has never failed me. I have been tempted to try budget brands of white glue, but usually find the Elmer's on sale. This recipe makes about 4 ounces, so maybe double it.

Also, make sure to mix the glue, water, food coloring, and beads completely, before adding the Borax. This is not a Borax solution, just the powder. Make sure you are adding the Borax as teaspoons and not Tablespoons. My daughter likes it a little thicker when she intends to cover an object or mold it, so I add slightly more Borax. Hope it works well for you.

Thanks for putting the receipe on here only thing is we live in the UK is there something simialar to Borax or Elmers glue as not familiar with either many thanks Georgina

Not sure what is available in the UK, or the brand names, but Elmer's is a white liquid, all purpose, non-toxic glue, that dries clear. We used it for just about all our art projects as kids and also used it to glue wood in shop class.

I just tried another recipe which uses:

One part white glue

Food coloring

Foam beads

One part liquid laundry starch (Borax is one of the ingredients)

Mix glue, food coloring and beads. Add starch and knead. Add more starch if needed to get desired consistancy. The finished product will be a little more opaque and rubbery than the easy floam mix above.Might try it again with a little less starch.

I live in the UK and have just stumbled on this site through a customer at work. He was trying to find out where he could get Borax from. You can buy it direct from us at Dripak or we can give you a list of stockist!
Marvelous stuff this Floam !!
Donna
Ilkeston Derbyshire
UK

Has anyone tried that Potassium Sorbate as a mold preventatitve mentioned in the earlier postings?

I bought the Borax yesterday and tried the recipes today. My Borax will not completely dissolve. I've used both warm and cold water and had the same results. I mixed it using a wire wisk, and the borax keeps settling on the bottom.I've mixed for a good minute or two. What am I doing wrong?

Try warmer tap water, but if it's just a minimum
amount of power that doesn't dissolve, I wouldn't
worry about it too much. You can always add a
little bit more of the borax solution to the glue
mixture to account it.

I tried several of the recipe variations here, and this is what I made; I like this consistency best:

1/2 Tbl. Borax
1/2c. (4oz) water
Mix in a bowl

1oz (2Tbl.) glue
1oz (1/8c.) water
Mix in another bowl, add food coloring

Pour the glue mixture into a zipper-seal bag. Hint: Postion the bowl as close to the bottom of the bag before pouring; this will prevent the glue from getting all over the sides of the bag.
Add 3Tbl. of the water/borax solution. Borax has a tendency to settle at the bottom after being mixed with water. Stir the solution with the Tablespoon before adding each one.
Add the beads. I added 5oz (1/2 cup plus 1/8 cup) but found that still too many are falling off when playing with the Floam later. For my next batch, I will try using 3 to 4oz (A 3-oz Dixie cup plus 1/3 of the Dixie cup, if needed).
Seal the bag and knead the material. It will be very runny and should mix quite well. After mixing it a little bit,shake and turn the bag different directions and let the Floam pieces slide down the sides of the bag; this will pick up any extra liquid or beads that are stuck to the bag. MAKE SURE YOUR BAG IS PROPERLY SEALED BEFORE DOING THIS.

Let rest for about 15 minutes, then knead again. Continue doing this until all liquid is absorbed.
Over time, the Floam will get a little sticky and hangs on to the bag.
I removed the dough from the bag after about one hour to put it into a container, and I had to pull it off the inside of the bag. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Floam is meant to stick to things.
The consistency of this Floam is much like slime: It feels wet to the touch, is shiny, and very plyable. It should stretch to a certain extent. You should be able to roll it into a sausage. Try tearing off a piece, then stick it back. Squeeze the dough, and it should mold back into one piece.
The most noticable thing is this: The right Floam will expand every time you put it back after handling. I formed it into a ball before putting it away, and pressed one finger into the dough. When checking about 5 minutes later, the dough had taken on the shape of the container and had expanded (like bread dough with yeast), and the fingerprint was gone.
There will be some slimey liquid at the bottom of the Floam after being stored in a container.
Other recipes I tried make the Floam to dry: When you pull on it, it makes a crackling sound and breaks, releasing a little bit of "dust". Very dried out.
The beads DO make a huge mess. They cling to everything. I cut a small corner of the big bag and poured the beads into an empty, clean catlitter bucket (40lbs bucket will hold 1 1/2 cubic feet of beads).
Don't try to completely empty the bag, the beads cling to the walls and make the bag look white. Those are beads you will be wasting.

The easiest clean-up of my countertop and cabinets (yes, the beads "flew" onto my cabinets) is the hose attachment tool of my vacuum cleaner.
Let me know how this worked for you. When replying to my comment, just address me as "Susan".

First off, I found my poly-beads inside a "squishy" pillow on the clearance shelf at my local Wal-Mart for 3.00. I did not substitute the glue or Borax. Another note: DO NOT USE KOOL-AID for color, it messes up the end result and doesn't smell any better. Personally I kind of like the glue smell. I didn't find that I needed to knead much at all, it came together very nicely.

Thanks to everyone here, we made LOTS. I just had a hard time going back and forth trying to figure out the receipe, so I compiled this receipe for easier reference.

--------------

(yield approx. 2 c./batch)

1 Tablespoon Borax dissolved in 1 cup of water (this will make about 3 batches). SET ASIDE

1/4 cup Elmers glue-all (multi- purpose) , 1/4 cup water, mix together and add food coloring

POUR GLUE MIXTURE INTO LARGE ZIPLOCK BAG

Add to the glue mixture, 1 & 2/3 cup of polystyrene (styrofoam) beads. (1 mm works good) and work into glue mixture.

Add 1/3 cup of the borax solution. (up to 1/2 cup for a firmer result,but I liked the result of 1/3c.) Knead. It should come together easily and form into a pliable ball.

Could someone please post what each ingredient does, for troubleshooting? I.e., the borax plays what part and what does increasing or decreasing the water/borax ration do? The same with the glue, more or less will make the Floam more or less sticky?

Does the amount of beads have anything to do with how much the Floam expands? I found that the batch that has less beads will expand more rapidly.

This would help tremendously, because I've made several batches, some are firmer than others, and I would like to know which part to change.

White glue (polyvinyl acetate) is a long-chain polymer. This means that it is formed from long 'strings' of atoms (think of a strand of DNA). Borax will cross-link the chains in the glue, so they clump together, making a gooey 'snot-like' consistancy (the more Borax, the less sticky it will be, but it doesn't take much).

I've been making 'Goop' with my kids ever since they were about 2 years old, using the same ingredients.

I tried making the Goop and adding the styrene beads, but the Goop wasn't sticky enough. The trick to make Floam, appears to be adding the beads and mixing everything together (unlike making Goop).

'Goop' recipe:

Solution A:
1 cup (8 oz) water
1 cup (8 oz) white glue (Elmer's works best)
Food coloring

Solution B:
1 1/3 cup (11 oz) water
4 teaspoons Borax

1. Mix ingredients in solution A together in a medium bowl
2. In a second medium bowl, mix the ingredients in solution B
3. Slowly pour solution A into solution B (DO NOT MIX!!)
4. Roll solution A around in solution B 4-5 times (DO NOT MIX!!)
5. Lift solution A out of solution B and kndead for 2-3 minutes
(you should see a curdled mass in the bowl, grab it and squeeze the excess liquid out)
6. Store Goop in an air-tight containter

-Brian

I'm not sure what I did wrong. I made several batches with more and less beads/ more or less borax/water solution, and they all seemed to be ok, some more plyable than others.
Two days later, the slimy residue that forms on all Floam is increasing, and the beads are drying up and falling off the Floam when I handle it. I have an increasingly difficult time to mix the "slime" back into the dough.
I have made the Floam in Ziplock bags, and later put it into 1-cup ziplock storage containers with a lid.
What has happened?

I recently bought real floam, it turns out that the beads separate from the floam. You have to knead the slime and beads back together. If this becomes impossible then add 1/8 a teaspoon of water and try again

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