• Antony Kirrane

Slime toys in the news again

Slime toys have, sadly, hit the news again because they contain Boron. Hamleys have decided to pull all slime toys while they investigate. But what is Boron, why is it there and do I need to be concerned?

Boron and Borax

Boron is a metallic element with the symbol 'B'. It has an array of fascinating uses, just check out is Wiki entry but what is it doing in toys?

Borax (or Disodium Tetraborate) is a Boron compound, again, with a variety of uses but one of which is used to give unique properties to "slime". It causes flexible links with the molecules of PolyVinylAcetate Glue (PVA). this is like the glue we all used at school!

Everyone would agree that slime is great fun for kids but Borax also has some toxicological and regulatory issues to look out for.

Toxicology and Regulation

Disodium Tetraborate is restricted in the EU because of its potential to harm the unborn child. Because of this it is restricted in toys to levels below 4.5%. Elemental Boron is also restricted in toys to just 0.03%, because of concerns over the amount children ingest.

Borax is also regulated in Canada but, curiously, not in the US.

Use in Slimes

Slime can comply with the strict Borax and Boron limits set by EU regulation, but it is difficult to control to such precise levels. Often, the more borax you use the "better" the slime will be, that is why we see reports of slimes exceeding the legal Boron limits.

The market also has a few "make your own slime kits". These can be at risk of non-compliance since they need to have a "borax activator". Whilst the slime might comply, the activator will potentially contain high levels of borax. Sadly, many kits claiming to be borax free still use borax, usually by the use of cleaning fluid or contact lense solution. This is a common theme of "make slime at home" guides on social media.

Do I need to worry?

If you use gloves while making it and dont eat when playing with it, probably not! After all, Borax is still approved for use in contact lense solution in the US. After that other sensible advice applies such as buying toys from a reputable brand and retailer to make sure they have complied with the limit.

What next?

The limit for borax in toys seems set to drop to 0.1% (whilst the level of Boron will remain at 0.03%). The International Standards Organistion (ISO) will start work on new standard for slimes, helping manufacturers and regulators alike ensure the market is safe.

If you are reading this and you are concerned about your slime toys, just message me!

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I was comparing the requirements of the UK Toys DoC with the original requirements of the EU Toys DoC. I thought this info might be useful for everyone... As you can see they are pretty much identical