Gunge Text

Gunge and Slime

Gunge Triptych

This page covers detail on options for making gunge and slime, as well as some of the science behind it. If you are looking for specific recipes, and games, either have a look at the gunge index page, or these two links;

How to make gunge  How to make slime


The terminology for Gunge and Slime tends to vary somewhat around the world, and between dictionaries, however in general usage Slime and Gunge are virtually synonymous- typical UK definitions being;

Slime; n Unpleasant thick slippery substance (1)

Gunge; n informal Sticky unpleasant substance (1)

In my opinion, these are not really sufficient definitions to distinguish between the various types of mess that can be made. To come up with a suitable definition, I believe that three properties that a fluid may have need to be considered. These are;

Viscosity; The resitance of a fluid to shear forces, and hence to flow (2)

Tack(iness); Ability of a material to bond with another when contact is brief and pressure is light (2)

Stringiness; Like string, Fibrous (1)

If you base the definition of gunge on that typically used in British television shows, which I believe is how the UK public perceive a gunge to be, then a suitable general definition would be;

Gunge; A fluid which is viscous and tacky

Basing the definition of slime on the familiar children's toys, I believe a suitable definition is;

Slime; A fluid which is viscous and stringy, especially one that also displays tackiness

I will therefore use these definitions for the rest of this site.

The etymology does differ to that used in the USA.

Making Gunge and Slime
Recipes for various types of gunge and slime can be found on the seperate pages on this site. For mixing small quantities a small hand mixer works pretty effectively. For larger quanties a drill mounted mixer works effectively.

Mixing Items
Mixing Items

Gunge Technology
Virtually all the gunges used in film and television, are based on an industrial thickening agent (gum), either a food or cosmetic ingredient, although this is not always the case (e.g. Custard for Dick and Dom In Da Bungalow). Technically they are usually Polysaccharides, a polymer carbohydrate. In particular many are derivatives of cellulose, of which there a huge range of products available.

Virtually any commercial thickening agent could be used, but there are a number of reasons why a restricted number tend to be selected;

This should obviously be of prime importance- this means that the thickeners should be products intended for food or cosmetic use. Industrial thickeners for paints, oil well drilling etc are therefore not likely to be appropriate.

In most cases the industrial thickeners are not available directly to the public. They are bulk packaged (typically in 25kg/50lb sacks) and sold only via trade suppliers. This means that the products that are available are those where a supplier is prepared to split a sack to sell a small quantity- hence the dominance of natrosol in the UK and Methyl Cellulose in the US.

Many of the easily available food thickeners (such as cornflour/ custard powder, starch, gelatine etc) either need to be boiled or at least require boiling water. Whilst this is practical for a few litres at home, it becomes difficult to make up large batches unless you have access to commercial kitchen facilities. Some of the industrial thickeners are also formulated to be dry-mixed with food ingredients and then thicken when water is added and cooked. This means these types of thickeners are less desirable for gunge use.

Can vary considerably, but can be difficult to compare as different concentrations will be needed to make a mix of the same viscosity (thickness). It is therefore best to compare the cost per litre of the finished gunge.

In my opinion, the ease of mixing is probably the most important factor to consider. The natrosol mixes very easily, but in my experience some other thickeners (such as Guar gum) don't. For small quantities a wooden spoon or food mixer works quite effectively. For larger batches a paint/ plaster mixer in a drill works very effectively. To disperse the powder into the water, I tend to measure the required amount into a jug, and sprinkle into the water as it is being stirred. If the thickener doesn't flow easily as a powder, I would recommend passing through a sieve first as if the powder clumps together , it won't disperse easily in the water and you will end up with lump (3).

When mixing a large batch up, I would generally recommend splitting it into smaller batches. This makes the physical handling of the gunge easier, and reduces the risk of losing the whole batch if something goes wrong. Typically for the events I have run where 3-400 litres have been needed, we have split it into 50l batches. In some of these cases we have mixed the gunge off site from where it is going to be used and transported in 50l Screw-top plastic kegs (ex mango chutney containers). Kegs any larger than this aren't really practical for manual handling without special equipment (3).

Although not directly broken down by bacterial action, the cellulose based thickeners can be degraded by enzyme action, resulting in it becoming watery (4). I find that this tends to happen with the Natrosol gunge within a few days of being used.

A range of thickeners that can be used for gunge manufacture

As already mentioned, there are a wide range of possible thickeners. In most cases they are polysaccharides of some form. This means they are chemically
similar to sugar and starches, and are built up from the same basic chemical molecules- a simple carbohydrate. These are linked together to form a long chain, making a polymer.

Branching of  Polymers

Differences between various grades of the same material are usually down to different lengths of polymer chain, characterised by the molecular weight (MW) you may see on a manufacturer's datasheet, and by any branching of the chain. As a rough and ready approximation, the longer and/or more branched
the chain is, when mixed with water, the more viscous will be the resultant gunge. Conversely, the powder will generally become more difficult to disperse, the higher the molecular weight. I will cover the basic of information regarding each material, as this page is only a brief  introduction to the subject. I will also cover only those substances known to be used to produce gunge or slimes, or where I have experience using them. There is plenty of more detailed information available for those with a more scientific interest in the subject out there (in particular see ref 4).

Guar Gum Gunge  Pink Slime
Gunge & Pink Slime made from Guar Gum

Guar Gum (E412)
Guar is a naturally occurring gum, extracted from the Guar (or cluster) Bean, most of the world's supply coming from India. It is relatively cheap, and readily available from health food stores. The first few events I created Gunge for, I used Guar Gum which was obtained as samples from a commercial food ingredient supplier. This worked quite effectively when made up, but proved to be very hard work to mix- the gum has a tendency to clump, which makes mixing it to smooth consistency very difficult. The photo at the head of the page is of an event at the University of Surrey Student's  union using this type. I no longer tend to use it except in the stringy  slime recipes listed below.

Xanthan Gum (E415)
Xanthan is the first of the commercially synthesised thickeners, being manufactured by the fermentation by the bacteria Xanthomanas campestris of Glucose or Sucrose, followed by collection, cleaning and milling. It is available under the trade names Keltrol and Kelzan. In recent years it has started to be used as gluten substitute, and therefore has started to become more easily available from health food shops, larger supermarkets in the UK and homemade soap suppliers (5). If my memory serves me correctly, this was the material used for the Run the Risk TV show

Cellulose Based Thickeners
All of these are based on cellulose extracted from vegetable matter and then chemically treated with a range of processes to alter the properties (viscosity, dispersion etc) to suit particular needs

Natrasol Gunge
Hydroxyethylcellulose (Natrosol) gunge
in use, coloured with powder paint

Possibly the most common cellulose based thickener used for gunge, it is known by the trade name Natrosol used by the BBC for Noels House Party amongst other programmes (6), and widely used for charity events and home gunging.

Methylcellulose (E641)
A very common cellulosic thickener, it has a wide range of commercial uses including being the main constituent of many wallpaper pastes (7). Known by the trade name Methocel (manufactured by Dow), its most well known use was used in the Ghostbusters films(8,33) and the bulk of the slime used in alien resurrection(10,11).

Others cellulosics
Other possible cellulose based materials that could also be used if available include; Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (E464)- often known as Hypromellose, Carboxy methyl cellulose (E466) and Sodium carboxy methyl cellulose (E467)

Super Absorbant Polymers

Sodium Polyacrylate/ Potassium Polyacrylate
There are a number of chemically similar materials, generically known as Super Absorbent Polymers (SAP), of which Sodium Polyacrylate is the most common type, most commonly known as the main absorbent in disposable nappies and as a soil conditioner. A good background on the material can be found at ref (12). Like most of the industrial thickeners, their properties are dependent on the molecular weight and branching, but also by the physical form the powder is in (granules/ powder etc), giving rise to a range of possibilities for different textures. Commercially it is available as Gellibaff(13)(and other bath gels). It has some major advantages in that it is easy to mix, and the viscosity of the fluid can be massively affected by sodium chloride (table salt), so disposal is easy as the viscosity can be dropped back to close to that of water (14). It doesn't have good tackiness, however, and so in my opinion doesn't make a particularly good gunge (3).

Polyacrylamide is chemically similar to Sodium Polyacrylate, but is not affected by the addition of table salt (14). Commercially it is available as 'Yuck'(15).

Polyacrylamide (aka non-ionic polyacrylamide) is used as a soil stabiliser and water retainer in agriculture and soil remediation in mining as well as finding uses as a lubricant in oil well drilling, and as a flocculant in water purification (39). These chemicals are also used widely in cosmetic applications to enhance the feel of a product, and form a stable lubricant film on hair when dried and so finds wide use in shampoos and conditioners (40). Some applications have also been found in pharmaceuticals both in tablets and in other dosing methods. (41).

I have yet to find a good source of suitable grades (cosmetic) for home use, but versions are now starting to become available as toys as ’Yuck’ in the USA and ‘Slime Play’ in the UK (manufactured by Gelicity, sometimes carried in Poundland). Both of these sources are relatively reasonably priced compared to the available alternative methods of making slime.

Polyacrylamides were used in the Ghostbusters films to lend stringiness to the methylcellulose based slimes.

Polyox slime
Polyox Slime
(Coloured with cosmetic pigment)

Polyethylene Oxide
Polyethelyne Oxide (PEO) (or Polyoxyethelyne (POE)) is another high molecular weight polymer, the common trade name being Polyox (16). Typically it will have a molecular weight above about 100,000. Below this it will tend to be known as Polyethelyne Glycol (PEG), the common trade name here being Carbowax (17). Both PEG and PEO are widely used in cosmetics as well as such items as vetinary lubricants (18).

Polyox is pretty difficult to mix as a raw material (3). Commercial products therefore mix other materials such as sugar to make dispersion easier (18).

Psyllium/ Ispaghula Husk
Another naturally occurring thickener- this is made from the ground up husk of the Plantago Ovata seed. When mixed up it tends to form a stringy slime.
It is sold in health food stores as a milled form as a form of dietary fibre supplement, but in this form is not particularly soluble as it clumps on mixing with water. For this reason there are a wide range of purified and prepared formulations on the market, sold as bulk forming laxatives. The formulations vary, but all have the common form of coating the powdered husk with another substance to avoid the clumping (19). The two most well known brands are Fybogel in the UK and Metamucil in the US. Best results seem to be obtained by either boiling a mixture of the husk powder and water or heating in the microwave for a few minutes. Typically the concentration needs to be approx 2% by weight, but as this is a natural product, there is significant variation between supplier and batch (3).

Wallpaper Paste
In the UK it is difficult to obtain wallpaper paste that hasn't had a fungicidal additive mixed in with it. For this reason I wouldn't consider using it as a gunge. Chemically it is often a methylcellulose grade or a Dextrin- a modified starch (4,7).

Theatrical Slosh
A perennial favourite in pantomimes in the UK is the slapstick scene- epitomised by the laundry scene in Aladdin. The particular mess in this and in clowning shows is generally known as slosh.

There are many variations on the recipes for slosh, but the key features are that it is soap based, and usually a foam (26).

The common base recipe is to grate a shaving stick into a bucket, sometimes quoted to be one manufactured by Erasmic (35,26,36), followed by whipping up with hot/ boiling water. If manufacturing a bucket or more, a paint stirrer attachment for a drill works well (3). One stick with 1/2l of water and makes approx 1 Bucket of slosh.

Other ingredients can be added including food colouring or poster paint to colour the slosh (best added to the water first). I have also seen cornflour, glycerine and gelatine quoted as other useful additives, but haven't yet investigated these thoroughly.

A further variation I have rarely seen is to dissolve soap flakes into boiling water with a small quantity of glycerine and food colour (3,37).

See seperate page for further details Slosh

Jelly/ Jello/ Gelatine

In small quantities this is easily available and easy to make, however I avoid using it for a number of reasons- Primarily it is difficult to make in volume as it requires boiling water and refrigeration. Couple this with the fact it's viscosity is temperature dependent and doesn't store well when mixed makes it difficult to use. SAPs are commonly used to give a jelly effect for example for wrestling in.

Denture Fixative

Denture fixative has been sugeested as suitable to make a slime by those making home movies (34). Wernets/ poligrip is available and contains a cellulose thickener. It works but is an expensive way of getting the thickener (3).

Cornflour used for "walking on custard"


The basis of custard, can form a highly thixotropic liquid when mixed with water- This is the basis of the walking on custard demonstrations. (e.g. the well known Brainiac episode). The proportion of Cornflour to water need to be very high so this is not a cheap activity in large volumes (3).

Guar Gum slime
Guar Gum Slime
(cross-linked with borax and coloured with poster paint)

Sodium Alginate (E401)
Sodium Alginate has been used for simulating thick fluids such as mud and tar in TV use (38), but seems to have fallen out of favour in recent times. It should not be confused with dental alginate used for lifecasting which has additional chemicals to cause it to gel, rather than thicken.


Some of the thickeners have the ability to have their chains cross-linked to make the viscosity much higher, by the action other chemicals. Both PVA (poly vinyl alcohol) and Guar Gum are particularly good at cross linking with a common chemical, sodium tetraborate- more normally known as borax (4).  The cross-linked guar gum is the material sold in toy stores as slime- but can be fairly easily made at home. There are good recipes for this at 'Chemistry in the Toy Store' (20), along with a good explanation of the chemistry and for a full recipe see the slime page.

Grades of thickener
Whilst I have treated the various thickeners as single types, there is in reality a significant number of variations of each type, from different manufacturers, and grades within their ranges. Typically the factors that influence these grades include molecular weight and molecular weight distribution, branching of polymer chain, powder sizes and ‘substitution’- the addition of other chemical compounds onto the thickener chain. As there is such a variety of possibilities it is always worth experimenting with the exact grade you intend to use.

Brand Names And Trade Marks
Many thickeners are sold under brand names or trade names, but in at least some cases, a range of different types of thickener are sold under the same brand name, with the discernable difference being the code for the grade of the material. Particularly notable examples are Tylose and Dow's Methocel- Whilst commonly Methyl Cellulose, a number of other materials are sold under the same brand,.

Colouring and colourants
There are a number of options open for colouring the gunge, each with their own benefits. I would recommend using products known to be safe for skin contact. It is worth bearing in mind that to produce an intensely coloured gunge, quite a lot of the dye will be needed- It is therefore inherent risk that it will stain. To reduce the risk of damage to clothes, avoid white or light colours and wash them as soon as possible after the event, preferably before it dries on (3).

Whilst most users will tend to colour their gunge with powder paints, liquid tempera (poster paints) or food colourings there are a wide range of other options available. Commercially, colourants are split in to two main classes; dyes and pigments, defined as follows;

Pigment: A pigment is a finely divided solid colouring material, which is essentially insoluble in it's application medium” (21)

Dye: Soluble colourant- may be soluble in water or other liquids

The ideal colourant for our uses would be readily available in a wide range of colours, non-staining, non toxic, vivid and available as both opaque and clear versions, as well as being low cost. Unfortunately the perfect solution does not seem to exist, so we are forced to compromise on some factors, in particular with the commonly used colourants the inherent risk is that it will stain. To reduce the risk of damage to clothes, avoid white or light colours and wash them as soon as possible after the event, preferably before it dries on.

Colourants  Food Colour
A Wide Range of Possible Colourants & Professional Food Colours

Safe Colourants
Colourants mixed at usable concentrations

Food colouring
Widely available, safe and cheap. In my experience can stain quite badly as it is a dye, and therefore designed to be absorbed onto food. It is clear so means that mixed gunge will not be very visible when not in bulk (3).

Food colour for domestic uses is not normally sold as opaque (certainly in common UK brands such as Dr Oetker), this may not be an issue if you wish to create a clear, coloured goo, but if you want an opaque effect, you will need to consider opacifiers. You may be lucky in some areas and find a gel or paste available that has opacity, and whilst I have yet to find a UK source, I understand that there are white food colours in existence in these ranges.

Industrial food colours can however be bought as opaque liquids, these are typically very viscous or paste (3) so that the opacifier does not settle out in storage or transit. Opaque food colours  type were certainly used in Get Your Own Back.

GYOB Colour  GYOB Color
Get Your Own Back Colouring

Possible options for more commonly available opacifiers include milk (if you are using the goo immediately) and cornflour (cornstarch). I have used flour, but it results in clumping and mixing difficulties as well as difficulty in cleaning up the slime and fairly poor opacity as well.

Powder Paints
This is the colourant used in some of the commercial suppliers pre-mixed powders (22). It is a pigment, so is generally less staining than food colouring and is opaque (at least if mixed in sufficient concentrations). It seems to be getting superseded for home kids painting (in the UK at least) by the premixed paints, and is so becoming slightly more difficult to obtain on the high street than it once was.
The composition is based on a pigment, an opacifier (usually titanium dioxide), some binders (can be dextrose based) and an ‘extender’, usually calcium-carbonate (chalk) (21). In my opinion the presence of the extenders reduce the vividness of the colour, and for gunge, the binders aren’t necessary. If someone could formulate a powder with these changes, we’d have the perfect colourant!

However,tfor larger quantities of gunge, a suitable chalk powder could be used as an opacifier and to reduce the cost of colouring the slime, particularly as the cost of colouring to an intense, opaque shade can be as much as the thickener in some cases.

I believe it is the type of colouring used in at least some of the commercially available suppliers products (22).

Liquid Tempera (Poster Paint)
Widely available, safe and opaque. These are a good all round choice, particularly as the range of colours is wide and includes fluorescent ‘neon’. The colours do seem to be more vivid than the powder paints. The main disadvantage is that some colours will stain, and a reasonable quantity is needed to get a suitably opaque mix. I have also been unable to find much useful information on the formulation, particularly on binders or other chemicals used.

Helizarin is a trade name of BASF, but is of note as it is the range of dyes quoted as being used by the BBC for their gunge (6). It is not easily available, although there is one trade source of small quantities in the UK. It produces a very vivid colour, and is in my opinion the best looking colour available, but it is not sold as safe for skin contact (23), as well as being staining. I would not therefore recommend it for home use.

Bath Tints
These are available as tablets for colouring bath water, and are sold under a number of names, typically 'Fizzy bath tints'. They provide a way of colouring that is not likely to stain, but only have a minimum of colouring power (3).

Cosmetic Dyes & Pigments
There are a wide range of dyes and pigments available that are used in cosmetics, and hence are safe to use. After spending some time investigating and experimenting with these I have come to the conclusion that for normal use they do not offer any great advantage over the other options, and are not as easy to obtain. They main benefit I can envisage with these are the availability of specialist additives like pearlising agents and fine glitters that could add ‘sparkle’ to a gunge.

Colouring Intensity
Even a small amount of colourant will give an intense and opaque effect when the gunge is in bulk, however when the gunge is in a thin film, as will occur when it is being used, significantly more colourant will be needed if you want the object/ person underneath to be obscured. Dependent on the application, I will typically use  between 1 and 2% by weight of powder paint to produce a suitably opaque and intense colour. I have gone as far as 5% when I have had a need to get a particularly strong effect in photographs. If you need opacity, but not a vibrant colour then a mix of white powder paint to provide the opacity and another colourant can give a desirable, but more pastel effect.

These figures should be taken as a guide only as there will be variation between different manufacturer’s paints and between colours in their range. If a particular effect is needed then I’d recommend experimenting first. It is also worth noting that at the higher concentrations, some of the filler in the paint will slowly drop out of suspension. It is therefore a good idea to give the gunge a good stir before use.

The following image gives some comparison of the opacity and covering power of different concentrations, using Natrosol and NES Arnold blue powder paint.

Colouring Power
Paint Concentrations
Blue powder paint mixed with water and Natrosol at 1%

Further Information
There are a number of things picked up whilst researching this page that don’t neatly fall under any other category, so I’ll include them here.

There is a branch of science devoted to researching and defining how materials flow, known as Rheology. It is an area of research that has wide ranging effects that might not be immediately obvious. Some example areas are; flow of plastics in moulding & resins in manufacturing composites, manufacture of paints, drilling mud for oil well sinking, food processing and manufacture of the next ‘extreme hold’ hair gel.

The rheology of the materials is of interest to us- probably most importantly, the viscosity of the material. This is described at the start of this article. The other key properties that a fluid may have that are interest are defined as;

Newtonian Viscosity; Newton's law of viscosity states that the shear stress is directly proportional to the shear rate (7). i.e. viscosity is independent of the forces applied to the fluid, although temperature may have an effect.

This area will be expanded soon- please check back!

It is difficult to determine categorically which gunge or slime will be the most cost effective for your needs, but it is possible to compare relative costs based on a finished volume. The following table aims to do this, and is primarily based on UK pricing - Please bear in mind there are many factors that have a bearing on the cost including concentration, quantity bought, colouring, postage, material grade etc. Although there are multiple factors to be considered, they are unlikely to significantly alter the relative position in the list.

MaterialConcentrationPrice Per Litre
Finished Gunge
Relative cost
Xanthan Gum1%0.071
Super Absorbant Polymer
Guar Gum1%0.182
Supermarket Xanthan1%0.243
Gunge Powder1%0.9413
Flourescent Gunge Powder
'Paint Party Powder'
Pre-mixed GungeN/A2.0027
Compiled Feb 2014
Prices for uncoloured powder, nominal 1kg pack size

The obvious conclusion is that unless you really need the convienence of the smaller packaging (ie for one bucket), You are likely to be much better off buying the raw powders.

Mixing small quantaties of gunge is relatively easy, and shouldn't cause much issue in producing a homogenous mix (ie not lumpy), however mixing large quantities brings it's own issues.

I have recently mixed a large quantity in one batch (500 litres) and have experienced some difficulties. On previous occasions needing larger amounts (300-400l), I have always seperated the batch into smaller quantities, typically of around 50 litres each, mixed seperately and combined, typically using a paint mixer in an electric drill. Whilst some care is needed to ensure the thickener is added at a suitable rate to avoid clumping, the power of the mixer is sufficient in this size batch to keep it well agitated, and hence get a good mix.

When the process is scaled up, a drill mixer isn't adequate to mix the whole tank simeltanously, and hence any thickener missing the mixing zone will sit on the surface for some time, and tend to clump. The problem gets worse as time goes on as the viscosity of the mix increases, and hence hinders mixing further. In the recent experience this meant we ended up with the 'fish eyes' layer of not fully mixed material on the surface. Once this has occured it is very difficult to recover from. For this application it wasn't a major problem, but were viscosity be needed to be closely controlled it may be an issue.

Should you therefore need to mix large quantities I would recommend mixing in as small a batch as practical, and using the most powerful stirrer available (may be a plaster mixer) as well as being as careful as possible to pour the powder into the agitated are of the mixing only (3).

For more details on mixing bulk quantities, please se the bulk page; Bulk Gunge

Movie Slime/ Monster Slime
Apart from the bulk quantities of slime that is used in movies usually being manufactured from methyl cellulose (8,11) there are a number of other substances used. The most obvious being the use of KY Jelly in the alien films (11). The one however of most interest is Ultra Slime. Ultra Slime is manufactured by a company called Ultra Materials. For a few years it appeared they weren't r trading and so the mantle of providing stringy slime fell to a couple of other companies, however they seem to be back in business again in 2015 (44). The companies that produce this type of slime understandably don’t publish the formulations, however from studying of a material safety data sheet (29), and by experimentation (3), I would postulate that the key ingredient is polyox or polyacrylamide which is blended with methylcellulose.

Similarly the other commercially available stringy slime powder, ‘Sticky Yuck’ I would postulate is a blend of Polyox and sodium polyacrylamide (3,14,15).

Nickleodeon Green Slime
One of the most well known users of slime is the children's television channel Nickeleodeon. The slime they use is manufactured by a company called Blair Adhesives in the US (30,31,32,33).There is no indication of what the slime is based on, although the colouring is known to be food colouring (32)

Whilst I have been careful to only list materials on this page that are not known to have any significant health risks associated with them, they cannot all be classed as completely hazard free.

The largest single issue is the slipperiness of the mix- it can be very easy to slip over on. It is therefore essential to consider this when planning any activities involving gunge, including clean up and washing off as the most significant effects will be found on a smooth surface such as a bath!

Most of the materials are supplied as relatively fine powders, and as such create nuisance dust. It is therefore worth wearing a dust mask when handling. Likewise if this dust gets into eyes it can cause irritation.

Most of the materials are sold as safe for skin contact (e.g. cosmetics) and to date I have not had any problems with this. I would however be slightly wary of allowing prolonged skin contact with the colourants as it may stain!

All of these main materials (with one exception- see below) are not hazardous when eaten, however many are used as laxative additives, so it would probably be unwise to consume large quantities (4)!

Borax (Sodium Tetraborate) is the main exception to the above- It is not safe for consumption, and should therefore be handled and used carefully so as to avoid ingestion, although in the quantities actually present in slime it should not cause any concern. (27)

In addition to the specific information above, general safe chemical handling practice will further reduce the risk of any issues, in particular;
Store materials in sealed, well marked, containers in an area out of reach of children and pets
Wash hands before and after handling these materials
Dispose of excess/ used materials/ empty packaging responsibly
Wear dust mask when handling powders
Clean up any spills quickly- Avoid using water to stop the area becoming slippery
Do not use utensils/ containers/ cleaning cloths that will be later used for food

Unsafe Materials
There may a temptation to use other thick or gooey materials for messy activities, and some may be tempting due to cost and availability. I would strongly recommend not using products other than those known to be safe- in particular I would suggest that you do NOT use any of the following;

Plaster (building, casting or plaster of paris)
Risk of burns. Plasters give off heat as they cure, which can be intense. There is at least one case of amputation needed after plaster burns (42).

Risk of Alkali burns. Cement has caused many recorded issues for workers in contact with cement during the course of their employment (43).

Unless sold as children’s paint, I would avoid any other types of paint due to the presence of solvents, other toxic ingredients and in some cases heavy metals in some types. Unless you are familiar with the chemicals used it will be difficult to ascertain the risk of any particular type.

Motor oil/ Grease (Especially used)
Risk of dermatitis or cuts. Used oils can contain complex and unknown compounds that can be hazardous to health. Metal particles may also be included.

(1) English Dictionary, Home Edition, Collins, ISBN 978-0-00-784932-1
(2) Materials Science and Technology Dictionary, Prof P.M.B. Walker,
Chambers, ISBN 0-550-13249-x
(3) Personal experimentation
(4) Industrial Gums- Polysaccharides and Their Derivatives, Second Edition,
Roy Whistle, Academic Press 1973, ISBN 012746252
(6) BBC red nose day website 1999
(8) Quest- Marshall Cavendish Partwork
(10) Rosie O'donnell show interview with Sigourney Weaver, Nov 26th, 1997
(11) Alien The Special Effects, Don Shay & Bill Norton, Cinefex ISBN 1-85286-695-0
(13) Gellibaff MSDS-
(14) Superabsorbent Polymers Science and Technology, F.L.Buchholz & N.A.Peppa, ACS Symposium Series 573, ISBN 0-8412-3039-0
(15) Buckets of Yuck MSDS-
(16) Dow Polyox Water-Soluble Resins Datasheet- 326-00001-0302 AMS
(17) Dow Carbowax and Carbowax Sentry Datasheet- 118-1260-0306 AMS
(18) J-Lube MSDS-
(19) Patents; US20050031714, US4321263, US5126150
(21) Colour Chemistry, R.M. Christie, RSC Paperbacks, 2001, ISBN 0-85404-573-2
(22) Youtube video for
(23) Concentrated Liquid Pigment MSDS- Flint Hire and Supply
(25) Dow Methocel Cellulose ethers technical handbook, 192-01062-697GW
(29) Super Goop MSDS, Roger George Rentals

(36) Conversations with professional stage manager

(37) Blue Peter episode late 1980s- from memory

(38) Special Effects in Television, Second Edition, Bernard Wilkie, Focal Press, ISBN 0-24051361-4
(39) Water Soluble Polymers: SNF Floerger product brochure.
(40) Flocare: SNF Cosmetics product brochure.
(41) Water Soluble Polymers for Pharmaceutical Applications. Veeran Gowda Kadajji and Guru V. Betageri . Polymers 2011, 3, 1972-2009

Supplier Details
I understand the Basic Chemical Company  are no longer providing Natrosol as of 2023

The Basic Chemical Company (UK) Ltd

Hillbottom Road
Sands Industrial Estate
High Wycombe
HP12 4HJ
01494 450701

The Soap Kitchen (warehouse),
Units 2 D&E Hatchmoor Industrial Estate,
Hatchmoor Road, Torrington,
EX38 7HP. UK.
01805 622944.

A significant amount of effort has gone into researching this page. Please do not plagiarise this work without contacting me for permission first- I will usually say yes! This page will be updated periodically as and when new I find new, relevant information.

As with other projects on this site, feel free to contact me if you have opportunities to use the technology- I am always interested in collaborating on interesting projects, be that photographic, TV, Film, Nightclub, Exhibitions or other uses. Contact details are on the about me page.

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(c) M. Pantrey 2010-2023