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Homemade Silly Putty 225

kinema writes "Have you ever wanted a ball of Silly Putty as big as your head? Now you can make it at home. The University of Minnesota's Chemistry Department has instructions on how to make it on their website." Isn't silly putty a copyright circumvention tool? This should be regulated before it gets out of hand.
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Homemade Silly Putty

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  • Dont Joke (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:39AM (#6957050) Homepage Journal
    It IS copyrighted.. so that page COULD be shut down by ( i think ) hasbro..

    Gotta love the society we live in now..
    • by pheared ( 446683 )
      No no. It's a copyright circumvention tool.

      Try using Silly Putty some time, and press it ontop of a newspaper.
      • In any case (Score:2, Informative)

        by BrokenHalo ( 565198 )
        ... the structure of silly putty is well enough known to be publicised in several introductory-level organic chemistry texts I have seen, and it is not too hard to reproduce.
    • Re:Dont Joke (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MartinG ( 52587 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:43AM (#6957083) Homepage Journal
      "silly putty" can't be copyrighted, because it is not a work.

      It is probably a trademark, which could be enough to stop them using the words "silly putty", but not to stop them posting the instructions. To do that, they would need to have patented the technique of making it. Either way, copyright doesn't come into it.

      • Totally correct, and if silly putty (which has been around for ages) is patented, its patent has expired.

        The only action that could be taken (outside of the name thing) would be if the recipie for silly putty was a trade secret. But as a trade secret, if some one discovers what the recipie is you can share it. You have to have a patent to get protection.
    • Re:Dont Joke (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually it's a security circumvention device [], used to bypass fingerprint scanners
    • Re:Dont Joke (Score:5, Informative)

      by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:51AM (#6957137) Homepage Journal
      From the missed-the-joke department:
      Isn't silly putty a copyright circumvention tool?
      It IS copyrighted.. so that page COULD be shut down by ( i think ) hasbro..

      The original poster was not saying that making Silly Putty might be a copyright violation. He was saying that the use of Silly Putty -- to wit, to copy (say) your Sunday comics and then stretch them -- was employing a "circumvention device".

    • Elmer's Glue and Borax.

      Slow news day, huh?

    • The stuff described on the U Minn site is NOT the real Silly Putty. The real stuff is a silicon polymer as far as I know. The Elmer's Glue/borate mix has only a limited shelflife. It has some viscoelasticity, but it does not behave fully like the real Putty.
    • I'm pretty sure they were talking about using silly putty to copy pages from comic books. Ya know, spread it on the page, hold it down, and lift it up -- up comes the ink. Instant derivative work.

      The process to make silly putty itself would be patented, but i'm assuming that since silly putty has been around a long, long time, and since these instructions on the web have not been taken down yet, that the patent has expired. So the silly putty recipe is public domain.

      As for the name "silly putty" that
  • The missing bit (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr. Darl McBride ( 704524 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:39AM (#6957053)
    The Silly Putty(R) recipe refers to the slime recipe for the actual production procedures. It's not linked in the Slashdot writeup or on the Silly Putty page, so I've linked it here [].

    Another slime recipe can be found here [] as well.

  • Actual method (Score:5, Informative)

    by ldm ( 676254 ) * on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:40AM (#6957056)
    The instructions by themselves are not particularly instructive: "the procedure can be followed from the slime procedure above."
    This is mentioned here []. There's a bunch of other cool stuff [] in the same section, too.
  • by Dancin_Santa ( 265275 ) <> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:40AM (#6957062) Journal
    It's amazing how a chemical compound created while trying to devise better ways to kill enemies works out to have recreational purposes.

    And they say America spends too much on military research.
    • by los furtive ( 232491 ) <> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:30PM (#6957331) Homepage

      I was a bit dubious to your military claims since the linked article only makes reference to an attempt to make a synthetic rubber. However, a bit of research on [] shows not only that you are correct, but also lists the ingredients (boric acid and silicone oil) required to manufacture it. Read on for an excerpt:

      1940 In the midst of World War II, the Japanese contine to invade rubber producing countries in the Far East, cutting off supply to the United States. This begins to hamper war production efforts, especially for truck tires and boots. As a result, the government's War Production Board asks American industry to attempt to develop a synthetic rubber compound.

      1943 James Wright, a Scottish engineer working for General Electric's New Haven, Conn., laboratory, combines boric acid and silicone oil in a test tube. The compound becomes "polymerized." Wright removes the goeey substance from the test tube and in his exuberance tosses some on the floor. Bouncing putty is born.

    • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:48PM (#6957460)
      And it didn't even involve the phrase "Hey y'all, watch this!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:41AM (#6957063)
    Any terrorist handbook worth its salt has had recipes for putties for years. OH! SILLY putty! I was thinking EXPLOSIVE putty! My bad.
  • Gak? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Z Master ( 234139 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:42AM (#6957073)
    This actually looks a lot like the recipe for Gak. The only difference is that Gak uses Borax, which, for all I know could be the same as sodium borate. Are Gak and silly putty perhaps the same except for the glue to sodium borate ratio?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:42AM (#6957076)
    Have you ever wanted a ball of Silly Putty as big as your head?

    I'm hydrocephalic, you insensitive clod! I'd prefer a smaller head, thank you.
  • Ever wanted to know how microsoft patch their software? Gum and putty, they got tonnes of the stuff. Good'ol Bill has the worlds largest bubble bum collection, as for the putty, Ballmer keeps a lump in his back pocket
  • by mgcsinc ( 681597 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:45AM (#6957095)
    "Now you can make it at home"

    Okay, sure, I'll just pull the sodium borate out of my cabinet under the sink.
  • by edwdig ( 47888 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:50AM (#6957125)
    Back in my freshman year Chemistry Lab 4 years ago one of the experiments was to make silly putty. I remember it was one of the simplier labs to do, but the end result didn't come out very good. It dries out very quickly, and isn't as "flexible" as the stuff you buy in a store. It broke very easily. I don't remember if the teacher gave an explaination of why the putty we made wasn't as good as the store bought stuff, but I do remember getting the impression that you weren't going to get anything high quality in a small one off run.
  • My cousin gave me a recipe for making this from domestic materials... Salt has lots of sodium, and most brands of the toilet cleaner contain borate. Let me see... if I just mix a little of that with some garden fertiliser, then shake the whol >BOOOM<!!
  • This recipe is a clear violation of the DMCA, in that the end device is capable of copying copyrighted materials (newspapers) and defeating their protection mechanisms (if they've been printed backwards).
  • Buy in Bulk (Score:5, Informative)

    by jchawk ( 127686 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:52AM (#6957141) Homepage Journal
    For those of you who are lazy here are a couple of links to buy silly putty in bulk.

    From Crayola []

    Or if you would like to buy 100 pounds of the stuff you can apparently order it directly from Dow Corning. Here's a page with step by step instructions on what to ask for and who to call.

    100 Pounds or More []
  • by DigitalReligion ( 684511 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:55AM (#6957156)
    Glue borax and water.

    Its not really the same consistancy of silly putty from the times Ive made it.
  • by trveler ( 214816 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:55AM (#6957158)
    Check out this link [] for these recipes.
  • no wonder i was never allowed to eat the stuff.

    where would one go to buy this stuff anyways?

  • recipie is wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by kencurry ( 471519 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:00PM (#6957178)

    "Silly Putty is a dilatant compound, a silicone based polymer..." This statement makes sense also because the inventor was (is) a Dow chemist/engineer. Dow has always been a leader in silicone chemistry.

    The recipie from U of M is a borate cross-linked PVA (from the Elmer's), better known as slime. This is NOT a silicone polymer.

    Before I flame UofM Chemistry dept., I will give them a change to correct this gaff.
    • Yep, it was indeed an early attempt to produce a practical silicone rubber (obviously, Dow Corning learned a few things since).

      There are instructions for ordering DC 3179 dilatant compound in large amounts (100 lbs or more) on these pages [].

    • Yep. Any clues on the REAL recipie? I've been looking and all i can find are cheap knockoffs. Theres no substitute for the real thing.
  • by Faust7 ( 314817 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:01PM (#6957181) Homepage
    Have you ever wanted a ball of Silly Putty as big as your head?

    Why, yes! Yes I have!

    Now you can make it at home.

    "We went to the bars and then a house party last night. What'd you do?"
    "I stayed at home and made Silly Putty! I'm going to kill myself!"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Anybody know how to really make silly putty? Gak is boring.
  • Could someone please for all of us silly slashdotters who do not know what Silly Putty is (or maybe know it under another name) give some explanation? From what I found on google it seems to be some sort of flubber" [], but then, sort of, ... different.

    This being slashdot, could anyone also put up some links about all models of starwars ships that have been created with this stuff?

  • by Bob Cat - NYMPHS ( 313647 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:13PM (#6957246) Homepage
    Dow 3179 Dilatent Compound is. It is silicone-based, like the Horta.

    You can order 50lb blocks from Crayola or 100lbs from Dow. See for more info.

    Slashdot editors can't even check facts on Silly Putty stories. Sad.
    • Of course not. They're too busy washing their Pet Rocks.
    • Do not try this at home. This stunt was not performed by trained professionals, but by skilled amateurs who were not paying attention.

      A few years ago, some of my friends got together an order for a batch of Dow 3179 Dilatent Compound in its original pinkish color, and I got a kilo or so as a present for my sister's kids back east, whom we were about to go visit. In the shuttle on the way to the airport, my wife and I realized that our carryon luggage had two half-kilo baggies of plasticy clay and a digit

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:23PM (#6957301)
    WRONG!!! Its missing Silicon! It is a fake recipe!

    Real silly putty does not dry out or leave much of a residue and is of course feshy-colorred.

    Real silly putty has alwasy been :

    65% dimethyl siloxane, hydroxy-terminated polymers with boric acid
    -- 17% silica, quartz crystalline
    -- 9% thixotrol ST
    -- 4% polydimethylsiloxane
    -- 1% decamethyl cyclopentasiloxane
    -- ~1% glycerine
    -- ~1% titanium dioxide

    and of course you can manufacture it now, out of patent, but you have to be careful how you market it.

    Or you can buy it from DOW in bulk for under 10 dollars per pound.

    I am the first post that mentioned this and its 12:18 PM E.S.T. , so I can't imagine how something that I knew most of my adult life was not mentioned or corrected by ANYONE else. More amusing is that no one moderates on slashdot anymore even though technically all email accounts are mostly anonymous.

    But for those that care. There is the CORRECT resipe , and its totally different than the poisonous one for mere slime the article mentioned.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:43PM (#6957422)
      As a followup to my own post, here is the correct Silicon full recipe

      Preparing "Silly Putty", a silicone polymer (a methyl silicone, polydimethylsiloxane), via the hydrolysis of dichlorodimethylsilane with simple lab tools.

      This silicone, which contains residual hydroxyl groups, will be cross-linked using boric acid (B(OH)3). This trifunctional acid forms -Si-O-Blinkages resulting in a peculiar type of gum. The commercial "bouncing putty" found in novelty stores is a silicon polymer with softening agents, fillers and coloring agents added. The actual full list of Silly Putty ingredients with colorants and softening agents is :

      -- 65% dimethyl siloxane, hydroxy-terminated polymers with boric acid
      -- 17% silica, quartz crystalline
      -- 9% thixotrol ST
      -- 4% polydimethylsiloxane
      -- 1% decamethyl cyclopentasiloxane
      -- ~1% glycerine
      -- ~1% titanium dioxide

      This putty recipe is similar and equally pleasing:

      Day 1: This reaction must be carried out in a fume hood.

      Wear gloves to measure 20 mL of Si(CH3)2Cl (MW = 129.06, density = 1.064 g/mL) in a dry graduated cylinder. Rapidly transfer to a dry 250 mL Erlenmeyer flask equipped with a rubber stopper. Si(CH3)2Cl2 reacts rapidly with moisture to produce HCl gas so make the transfer swiftly. To this add 40 mL of diethylether and hydrolyze by adding 40 mL of H2O dropwise. HCl gas is evolved in this hydrolysis step.

      The addition must be made slowly at the beginning of the reaction or too vigorous an evolution of the HCl will occur. The ether component will be warmed up to its boiling temperature if H2O is added too quickly. It is a good idea to have an ice-bath ready to cool down the reaction flask if the hydrolysis becomes too exothermic. The first 10 mL addition of water is very vigorous but less so afterwards. After this initial quantity, you may increase the rate of addition. The product has a very strong odor; be sure to do this in a fumehood!

      Separate the ether layer at the completion of the hydrolysis step by pouring the mixture into your 250 mL separatory funnel. Wash the ether layer 3 times with 100 mL (for each wash) of 1 M Na2CO3.

      This step is done to neutralize any residual acid remaining in the wet ether solution. Vigorous evolution of CO2 gas is observed at this stage as the neutralization proceeds. Add 10 mL more of diethylether to the flask after the first wash. Finally, perform on additional wash with 100 mL of water. Dry the ether solution over anhydrous magnesium sulfate in a stoppered Erlenmeyer flask, which you let rest for step two.

      Day 2:

      Decant the ether solution, filtering off any magnesium sulfate, into a pre-weighed 50 mL Erlenmeyer flask and evaporate off the ether using a water bath - not a hot plate. Note the yield of the dimethylsilicone oil (you should have approximately 9.5 g of material).

      Add about 5% (by weight) boric acid (about 0.48 g for a yield of 9.5 g of oil), stirring continuously during the addition and for a few minutes after. This will cause the oil to become very viscous.

      Heat the mixture to about 170-180 C in an oil bath and leave at this temperature for 2-3 hours. Allow to cool and remove the product from the flask by scraping it out with a spatula. If the gum is somewhat brittle, continued kneading will produce the desired gum-like characteristic. Once the gum has been removed, clean your Erlenmeyer flask with methanol.

      Perform and report on the following tests:

      (1) When rolled into a ball, does your product give a lively bounce on a hard surface?

      (2) Does pulling sharply cause the gum to cleave?

      (3) Does pulling slowly result in a stretching reminiscent of chewing gum?

      (4) Does your product flow into a flat plate when placed on a flat surface?

      (5) Is print transferred to the gum when test (4) is conducted on a flat newspaper?

      General References

      1. J. E. Mark, H. R. Allcock, R. West, Inorganic Polymers, Prenti
    • by chriswaco ( 37809 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @01:21PM (#6957647)
      You are correct. It is fake!

      We made actual silly putty in high school about 20 years ago. The main chemical was highly reactive to water, including the moisture in the air. A small bottle of the stuff (Dimethyldichlorosilane IIRC) came packed in 5 layers of protection, including a small wood box, and could only be ordered with the aid of a helpful adult with access to dangerous chemicals.

      When we withdrew the liquid from the bottle using a syringe in our lab's hood, a wet rag 4 feet away starting smoking.

      The putty we created wasn't very good. It did bounce, but didn't have all of the properties of the real stuff. Once we realized that we had no good way of disposing of the chemical, we had to keep making putty until it was all gone!

      Today, we'd probably all be arrested for doing this in a public high school, but it was a great learning experience.
  • I had some when I was a kid. It was messy, it stuck to everything, and the messes resulted in me getting a lot of spankings. Not only that, but it stank worse than my whisky farts do today.

    No, I do NOT want a wad of silly putty that big. No. Damn. Way.
  • Just Buy in Bulk (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jagasian ( 129329 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:36PM (#6957359)
    You can buy 5 lbs of silly putty for $60 []. Many people have done this before, and you can do some very interesting stuff with it. Like make a potato gun that shoots baseball sized balls of putty at brick walls. There are videos of this, and the putty ball shatters like a piece of glass because of its "silly" properties.

    Its fun to do other experiments like bake it, freeze it, etc...
  • Silly Putty, a movie (Score:4, Informative)

    by bezuwork's friend ( 589226 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:45PM (#6957441)
    Any discussion about Silly Putty isn't complete without this link []. It is the movie where some guys drop a rather large ball of Silly Putty off of an office building for fun.

    I think this was on /. before, but couldn't find the past story.

  • Not Silly Putty (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jagasian ( 129329 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:47PM (#6957451)
    The Elmber's Glue recipes don't make actual silly putty. They make some cheap nasty knock-off that creates a silly putty-like compound that is slimey, leaves a greasy mess on anything it touches. Not only that, but this putty goes bad over time, unlike the real silly putty, which never dries out or gets moldy.

    There is a recipe for making the real silly putty compound, but it is far more difficult and requires ingrediants and tools not found in a grocery store.
  • by Tycho ( 11893 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @01:02PM (#6957541)
    So what would happen if you dropped a head sized or larger amount of silly putty from three stories up? Would it bounce or would it splash? Or would it pancake? Has anyone actually tried this?
  • This is not Silly Putty, or anything like it. I'm sick and tired of people saying that the glue and borax formula makes it, when in fact it produces a slimy concoction most similar to the Gak that Nickelodeon markets. The result of the recipe posted will make a slimy, sticky, greasy blob of crap that will dry out in a few days
    • This is not Silly Putty, or anything like it. I'm sick and tired of people saying that the glue and borax formula...

      Gosh, me too. Here's what you do.

      Take a breather, then you and your Super Friends can meet at the Halls of Justice and concoct some plan to bring truth and balance back into this wacky world where evildoers peddle glue and borax and call it "Silly Putty".

  • by purdue_thor ( 260386 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @01:14PM (#6957608)
    I had my students make this one time -- I was teaching a class on polymers. I had seniors in college playing with glue and boarx like little kindergarteners. Hah. They enjoyed it and learned something about viscoelastic polymers in the process, so I think it was all good.

    Anyway... while fun, the stuff isn't really Silly Putty (R). That's a silicone polymer. The poly(vinyl alcohol) that's in glues these days does a pretty decent impersonation, though. You'll notice that it does feel and act differently, and it tends to dry out much quicker than the real stuff.

    Just in case anyone cared on this obviously slow news day.
  • Re: Suprised (Score:4, Informative)

    by kernelfoobar ( 569784 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @01:17PM (#6957620)
    I'm suprised that among all slashdotters, nobody mentionned this []. I think it's probably Silly Putty (TM) with more intense properties.

    my 2 cents
    • I bought some of that stuff. It was interesting for a day but got boring rather quickly. It's pretty much silly putty, but much firmer (kinda close to the sticky tack stuff used to put posters on walls).

      Oobleck is much more interesting and a hell of a lot cheaper.

  • by caluml ( 551744 )
    The history of silly putty is quite amusing.

    Yeah, hahahah, heh, heheh, wooo.
    Thank god for that. I've finally stopped laughing. Took me 30 minutes though - take care clicking on that link if you've got to do something soon.

  • by the_pooh_experience ( 596177 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @02:15PM (#6957916)
    I have been waiting for a chance to post this like I found several years ago. Ever wonder what happens when you drop 50 lbs of silly putty (from Dow chemical) off a 6th(?) floor parking garage? Well you too can find out at Silly Putty Physics Experiment []. Complete with medium [] and large [] video (actually the video is about all there is to the thing). Just like McDonalds and Starbucks, there is no "small".
  • I remember making putty using nearly the exact same recipe when I was in HS Chemistry several years ago.
  • The one my high-school physics instructor used is simple enough that I still remember it after more than ten years:

    One part liquid laundry starch
    One part corn starch

    mix well

  • Your tuition dollars at work: m
  • (Material Safety Data Sheet []) Safety first! You gotta check on the LD50 before you can play with, let alone eat, the Silly Putty.
    (note: as previously observed, 3179 DILATANT COMPOUND is indeed the stuff)
  • Hasn't anyone ever used silly putty to copy a page from a comic book? Silly putty, like p2p networks, is used to copy intellectual property of others. Thus anyone who makes silly putty is liable for vicarious infringement heh. I'm quite sure that's what the OP was talking about, because anything else doesn't make sense.
  • Yeah, right.

    And then it turns into a IP debate.

  • by AntiTuX ( 202333 )
    I remember making this when I was a kid with my grandmother. That was always fun (my grandfather's a chemist, learned cool shit from him)

  • 35 years ago, my mom had the recipe for a home-grown recipe for Play-Dough gleaned from some womens' magazine.

    We had tons of fun making and playing with it and i don't think that the ingredienghds did anyt long-terrm damaggee
  • I don't know about you but I just got a major urge to buy a few tins of thinkgeek's smartmass, and send some of them to members of my family.

    I tried to make some kind of silly putty when I had a pretty good chemistry set for a kid, like 25 years ago. (a store-bought totally un-understandable chemistry kit and a ton of antique chemistry glassware my parents found in shops!).

    Alas the putty (which was probably more the borax type I guess) was extremely hard to make and it seemed very sensitive to the ratio
  • It's been archived here []
  • > Large flask of 55% Elmer's glue solution in water
    > Large flask of 16% sodium borate

    So, of course, 55% glue in water would mean 45% water, but when it says 16% sodium borate, does that mean the other 84% is water? They didn't really say that, but is it assumed it's in water? Otherwise, 16% of what?

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"