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How to make DIY slime without using borax

Most borax-free slime recipes still contain borax. Here are three that are 100 percent borax-free.

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DIY slime, the homemade goop that's as soothing as a fidget spinner, is most often made with borax. In fact, my first slime recipe used borax as one of the main ingredients.

While we've never encountered any issues with borax, some people have reported burns from this type of slime. Others are concerned about how safe this ingredient is for a children's toy. So, they turn to borax-free recipes.

The problem is, most "borax-free" recipes on the internet actually still use borax. After extensive research, I found that most borax-free recipes include liquid starch or liquid laundry detergent. After a quick scan of some labels and some manufacturers' websites, I realized that many starches and detergents contain borax, often listed as its scientific name sodium tetraborate decahydrate.

So, after testing alternative methods, I've found three truly borax-free recipes. The first two recipes create what is called "fluffy" slime, or slime that has an airiness to it and is almost dough-like. The last is a more traditional slime that has a lot of stretch to it. 

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Basic fluffy slime.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Basic fluffy slime recipe

This is a simple recipe that can be customized to make various forms of fluffy slime. Add more water for a wetter, stretchier slime, bits of polystyrene beads to make popping slime or glitter for unicorn slime, for example.

To make the slime, you'll need shampoo of any type -- though the thicker, the better -- and cornstarch. Here's how to make it:

  1. Put 1/2 cup shampoo and 1/4 cup of cornstarch in a bowl.
  2. Mix well.
  3. Add 3 drops of food coloring (optional).
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of water and stir. Slowly add 5 more tablespoons of water, stirring well after each one.
  5. Knead the slime for around 5 minutes.

If you find that your slime is still sticky after kneading it for a while, keep adding cornstarch to the slime and knead it in until you get a good consistency. The recipe worked great when I tried it a couple times with just 1/4 cup cornstarch, but a co-worker found that he needed 2 1/4 cups to get the dough-like consistency of a good fluffy slime. I think the brand of cornstarch and humidity may have a lot to do with the variance in cornstarch amounts from what I've observed in my experiments. As long as you end up with a semi-hard, semi-stretchy, moist, light, almost dough-like slime, you did the recipe right. The next recipe has a similar consistency.

Fluffy volcano slime recipe

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Volcano slime when it is still slightly warm.

Alina Bradford/CNET

This slime is called volcano slime because it reacts to heat. After you make it, you can put it in the microwave for 20 seconds to make it melt into a lava-like substance. As it cools, it will turn back into fluffy slime.

You'll just need white school glue and cornstarch for fluffy volcano slime. Here's how to make it:

  1. Pour 1/4 cup white school glue and a 1/2 cup of cornstarch in a bowl.
  2. Add 3 drops of food coloring (optional).
  3. Mix it well.
  4. Knead it with your hands for 10 minutes.
  5. Heat it in the microwave for 20 seconds.
  6. Let it cool, then knead it for another 10 minutes.
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Stretchy sand slime has a grainy texture. 

Alina Bradford/CNET

Stretchy sand slime

This recipe gets you just about as close to borax-quality slime as possible. It is stretchy and gooey. It will have a grainy texture, though, like sand.

You'll need white school glue, baking soda and contact lens solution. Then, just follow these directions:

  1. Pour 1 cup glue into a bowl.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda.
  3. Add three drops of food coloring (optional).
  4. Mix well.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon of contact lens solution.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Continue to add a tablespoon of contact lens solution and mixing until you get a nice consistency.  

Playing with the dough will firm it up more, so if it seems a little soggy, just knead it for a few minutes. 

Editors' Note: This article was published on May 24, 2017 and has been updated with new tips.