This could well be the new kids craze to hit town. These tiny little beads have been around for a while but I only became aware of their existence a few days ago after seeing an online video. These polymer-based gems are a pretty cool bit of chemistry that kids (and adults) can have some super cool fun with. They start life as brightly coloured, hard beads that look quite unassuming. Until….
Once water is added the magic begins. Within about 20 minutes the beads start to look more opaque and just a little ‘fluffy’ around the edges and by the time 2 or 3 hours have passed they have grown to the size of a pea. Still retaining their perfect spherical shape and looking more like transparent glass beads their transformation into soft, bouncy little jelly balls is complete. I have to say it’s very satisfying to just plunge your hand into a big old bowl of these babies and squish them around for a bit (stress toy anyone?).
As well as looking pretty and feeling great they do actually have some practical uses too. As they retain water really well they can be used instead of water in flower vases and in soil to help keep plants healthy. They are non-toxic but obviously they shouldn’t be left anywhere where small children and pets can get hold of them as ingesting them would not be clever!
I’m happy to report that my first batch of beads is still in tip top condition in a vase (without flowers) 3 days on and no moisture seems to have dissipated as yet. And I plan to create a little time-lapse video in the next few days to demonstrate their transformation. The beads do eventually return to their original state once the water has evaporated and they can be activated again and again by adding water.
Just for info, the little bottle pictured held 50,000 beads and cost about £7, I used just a small handful for my first batch.
I will be putting them to good use once summer arrives by filling the paddling pool!