How Are Water Marbles Made?

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An online recipe for cooking up water marbles using vinegar, calcium bicarbonate, salt and a few other ingredients has been floating around the Internet for several years. According to Anthony Williams of ChemSpider, the recipe is fake. It is possible, however, to makewater marbles at home with a kit; there are also DIY versions you can make with ingredients found around the home.

Hydrogel Polymer Water Marbles

The most common form of water marbles, these gelatinous spheres are a little larger than typical glass marbles. Food scientists have attempted to make these by following a recipe calling for boiling vinegar, but after much online debate, the only reliable way to create water marbles is to use a jelly marbles kit that includes 3 millimeter polymer spheres; when you soak the spheres in water, they grow to 20 millimeter jelly balls or water marbles. These spheres are made from hydrogel -- chemical chains of polymer -- that naturally absorbs water.

Things You'll Need

  • Jelly marble kit
  • Bowl
  • Water
  • Food coloring

Step 1: Place the Beads in the Water

Place the polymer beads into a bowl of water that allows them to grow over five times their starting size. To color the water marbles, drop food coloring into the bowl before adding the polymer spheres.

Step 2: Let Them Soak

Remove the water marbles from the bowl after letting them soak for five hours. You can use these water marbles to learn how hydrogels absorb water into their chemical bonds. They can also be used to learn about light refraction and color.

Step 3: Let Them Evaporate

Let the marbles dry in the open air and they return to the small spheres.

Making Icy Water Marbles

While a little larger than hydrogel water marbles, these icy spheres are a science project kids can make.

Things You'll Need

  • Round rubber balloons
  • Water
  • Bottled food coloring
  • Dry drink mix
  • Sugar
  • Funnel

Step 1: Wash Out the Balloons

Wash the powder residue from any balloons you're using. The number of balloons you need depends on how many water marbles you want to make. You need one balloon per water marble. You will need to cut apart the balloon as a part of the project.

Step 2: Fill the Balloon With Colored Water

Decide the color of the water marble you want to make. Drip 5 to 10 drops of food coloring into the balloon. You can experiment with different amounts of food coloring and water to get the preferred hue. Wrap the balloon around the end of a faucet and fill it with water. The amount of water you put in the balloon will indicate the size of the water marble.

Step 3: Freeze the Balloon

Tie the end of the balloon and place it in the freezer. Most water marbles will need at least 5 hours in the freezer to be solid. Letting them freeze overnight is preferable. To ensure that one size of the marble doesn't have a flat side, you may want to balance the balloon on a plastic cup in the freezer.

Step 4: Release the Marble

Cut the balloon away from the ice inside once the water freezes. After snipping off the knot, most of the balloon should peel away. It may be necessary to pick or scrape away some of the balloon.

Warning

  • While these water marbles may seem like snowballs, do not throw them at anyone since they are hard ice.

Create Gelatin Water Marbles

While hydrogel water marbles are made from a polymer, these water marbles are created from gelatin.

Things You'll Need

  • Mixing bowl
  • Prepackaged gelatin dessert
  • Whisk
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • Spherical ice molds
  • Balloons

Step 1: Make the Gelatin

Mix the gelatin dessert in 2 cups of boiling water in a mixing bowl. Stir until the gelatin completely dissolves.

Step 2: Add Cold Water

Mix in 1 cup of cold water to cool the mixture.

Step 3: Fill the Molds

Fill the spherical molds with the cooled down gelatin. If you don't have any spherical molds, you can use round balloons. If you use balloons, wash them inside and out before pouring the gelatin in to remove any residue.

Step 4: Allow to Harden

Place the gelatin in the molds into the refrigerator and allow the spheres to harden. This should take approximately 4 hours.

Step 5: Remove the Gelatin

Remove the gelatin from the molds for gelatin water marbles. Eventually the gelatin dissolves from the heat in your hands.

Warning

  • If you want to eat the gelatin, use molds approved for food use.

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