The molecules that give slime its unique
characteristics are called polymers.
Polymers are large molecules made of many
repeating subunits (
polymers ). Many materials we use every day
such as gels, plastics, and rubber are all made by
mixing polymers or by chemically modifying
polymers in various ways.
Turning nail polish into slime is a great
example of how polymers behave very differently in
different chemical environments. Nail polish is a
type of lacquer– a coating that is made by
mixing a polymer (usually nitrocellulose) with an
organic liquid called a solvent. An organic
liquid is like oil, it does not dissolve in water;
it repels water. When the polymer is dissolved in
the solvent, the mixture behaves like a liquid.
When you apply nail polish to your fingernail,
eventually this solvent evaporates and leaves
behind the solid dried polymer coating. To make
slime, you add oil to the nail polish. The oil
does not react with the polymer itself. Instead,
the organic solvent, which does not like water,
moves out of the nail polish and into the oil
layer, becoming separated from the polymer. The
polymer by itself (free from the solvent) is what
you see as slime.