I Had No Idea My Kid's Homemade Slime Obsession Was Putting Him at Risk

Homemade slime
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If you have a tween at home, you're probably familiar with the homemade slime craze. For me, it all began innocently enough. My 11-year-old came home from hanging out with the girl next door and was thrilled to show me what they'd been working on for the past few hours: homemade slime. Thankfully, I was on the front porch at the time -- as opposed to indoors -- because next thing I knew, that sh-t was everywhere! The furniture, the wood floor, the vinyl siding. I felt like Stranger Things' Joyce Byers paying a visit to the upside down. Goo and glop were all over the place.

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Fortunately, my (very patient) husband and our son spent the next 45 minutes scraping that slime off all the aforementioned surfaces. So, okay, I feel like right there I had reason to hate the stuff, but it gets worse. 

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Even though we banned slime from ever crossing the threshold of our home, my son decided that he and the neighbor would go into the "slime business," with the girl doing all the actual prep and packaging and my tween handling all the marketing. Never one to dampen the entrepreneurial spirit, I gave him my blessing as long as the slime never got closer to me than our sidewalk. 

The crafty duo couldn't wait to get started, and within days, they were fairly certain they'd be chosen to appear on Shark Tank. That's just how confident they were in their product. The problem? Just as the business was taking off, they ran out of inventory, and the ingredients our neighbor needed for her "top secret slime recipe" were sold out everywhere. It turned out theirs wasn't the only slime game in town. (And apparently it was also a nationwide obsession, because Elmer's glue -- one of the not-so-secret ingredients -- was in very short supply across the entire country. Go figure.) 

 
Needless to say, their slime empire dreams were crushed. I think my neighbor took it in stride, and, enterprising gal that she is, she vowed to place an online order to restock her ingredients (with her mom's help) and get the business up and running again. My son, however, went on Instagram and found rival slime start-ups all over our neighborhood.
 
And, rather than be as loyal to his pal as I'd have hoped, he immediately started shaking me down for cash to buy slime from his erstwhile competitors. Of course, he also wanted me to broker these deals in case his buddy next door found out he'd bought elsewhere. I quickly told him I couldn't get involved in this slime soap opera, and thankfully later that day I received an email from his school principal explaining that homemade slime was no longer allowed at school. The principal stated that in addition to the distraction of "cash transactions" taking place in hallways between classes, there was also "the greater worry ... that the slime may contain chemicals to which students may be allergic."
 

Hmmm. I'd never thought of that. But just as I'd breathed a sigh of relief that my son and his pal would be closing up shop for good, I struggled with a nagging "What were they putting in there anyway?" feeling I couldn't shake. Just days before, my son had begged me not to toss a hunk of Styrofoam that came inside a box; he believed it could sell "for, like, $20" to the slime cartel, as apparently another secret ingredient is expanded polystyrene. It was then that I realized, "Wow, who knows what they were putting in there?"

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And while I was joking about slime "killing me," it turns out it may have, in fact, been making some kids sick. Mom blogger Carolyn West shared her daughter's experience at This Talk Ain't Cheap, explaining that her slime-obsessed child's illness, which included headaches, sore throat, and general discomfort, refused to abate -- until they curbed her favorite pastime: making slime. 

Her daughter's concoction contained borax, white glue, water, shaving cream, and food coloring. Once she stopped making and playing with slime, the girl felt better. 

Was there a connection, or was it merely a coincidence? CafeMom reached out to multiple pediatricians to find out if homemade slime does, in fact, have the power to make kids sick. Several declined to comment based on lack of firsthand experience. Mika Hiramatsu, MD, a pediatrician at Castro Valley Pediatrics in Hayward, California, said that she also didn't have the expertise to answer this question, but added that "obviously, anything can cause an allergic reaction to the right person, even things like Tylenol."

No one wants to stand in the way of a budding chemist or business owner, but if we don't know exactly how those chemicals may interact with each other, there's always a chance for an allergic reaction or illness.

For now, the slime craze at my house has calmed down, and I'm grateful for that ... just as long as it doesn't mean we go back to the days of bottle flipping!

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