Random But Cool: How to Make Bouncy Balls from Common Household Items!

Random But Cool: How to Make Bouncy Balls from Common Household Items!

I realize that this how-to strays a bit from our normal fare, but goshdarnit, it's too cool not to share!  Maybe it's the overgrown kid inside me or my love of science (have I told y'all I was in the science club in high school??  Geek to the max.), but the idea of making bouncy balls--from scratch--out of regular ol' household items totally intrigues me.  If you're equally intrigued, or just want to impress your five-year-old, check out what you'll need below!   

Related Video:

This easy science project comes to us from Anne Maire Helmenstine, who holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences (as well as a B.A. in physics and mathematics, with a minor in chemistry) ... so I'm going to guess she knows what she's talking about!  Bringing chemistry to the masses is part of what she does as a freelance writer as well, which is how we came to this awesome tutorial.  Before we begin, take a quick look around your house and gather up the following items:

  • borax (found in the laundry section of most grocery stores)
  • cornstarch
  • white glue (e.g., Elmer's glue - makes an opaque ball) or blue or clear school glue (makes a translucent ball)
  • warm water
  • food coloring (optional)
  • measuring spoons
  • spoon or craft stick to stir the mixture
  • 2 small plastic containers for mixing
  • marking pen
  • watch with a second hand
  • metric ruler
  • zip-lock plastic baggie
When you're ready to get down with science, head over to About.com for the full tutorial.  Happy bouncy ball-making!

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Candy on Apr 19, 2014:

How do you get them to hold their shape? Ours flattened just from sitting on the table:(

Anonymous on Jun 27, 2013:

Thank you very much for the wonderful experiment!! The kids have been having a blast!! I SO appreciate the wonderful post!

Zipfish on May 17, 2013:

They have a very short shelf life.  You can extend it my keeping them in seal zip lock or container and in the frig.  It is less about the bouncy ball and more about the science experiment in making them.  No this is not a cheap way to get bouncy balls.  Real ones are only 6/$1.  You do this for the science.

JDaniel4's Mom on May 17, 2013:

This look like loads of fun! They would be great to make with my son for birthday treat bags.

Anonymous on Apr 13, 2013:

For the person that Comment "Yorkies suck" & the "lil pink purse" you ARE definitely not a dog person, I bet your in that cliche that pit bulls are killers, IF you followed my post from the beginning everyone is off cue from what my ? was, had nothing to do with my dogs, just posting my reactions to everyone's action, geez!! Can't fix stupid I guess.

Anonymous on Apr 10, 2013:

It has nothing to do with the fact that your dog can tell the difference between food and a toy. OBVIOUSLY they can tell the difference between food and a toy. The fact remains that dogs, by nature, need to chew. They have a natural urge to chew. Good for you that your yorkies don't like to chew stuff. Nobody cares about your yorkies. This blog post is supposed to be about how to make bouncy balls. The point that people were making is that when dogs NATURALLY CHEW on the balls, they can fall apart and the dog can SWALLOW pieces that come off of it. By the way, yorkies suck. They yip, and little blonde girls carry them around in pink purses. 

Anonymous on Apr 08, 2013:

No more comments on these balls for dogs, my question was the same balls sold in the stores vs your balls of the ingredients. Yes my small Yorkies love me throwing their balls for them to fetch & bring back to play. Sooooo if some of you with the comments of chewing or one said swallowing the balls, then you have no idea of how to train any animal, my Yorkies are very smart, they know the difference between a toy & the eatables

Jen on Apr 08, 2013:

Try to make these bouncy balls

Zipfish on Aug 25, 2012:

I have had more success with liquid starch (laundry section) than cornstartch.  Try the liquid starch.  Try mixing the glue and starch first then slowly adding the borax.

Also, make sure you are using Elmer's Glue All and not school glue.  Craft glue works also.  The glue-all and craft (tacky) glue have the polymers to make this work.  School glue does not.


weiredscience on Aug 25, 2012:

Umm... I have tried this a bunch of times, and it doesn't work.  Help! Its just gooey like silly putty, then if i add more borax it gets dry and crumbly.  Has anyone gotten this to work?

Anonymous on Aug 22, 2012:

the best way (in cooking) to get a ratio of ingredients right without needing to tweek for humidity or other factors is to cook by weight.  Any chance you could give the proportions by weight instead of by measure?

Anonymous on Aug 06, 2012:

The video listed above is for organizing toys. Is the tutuorial for the bouncy balls no longer available? I really wanted to try this with my girls today.


tali.orad on Jul 17, 2012:

We tried it but the balls dry out after a while and are not bouncy anymore. any tips?

Tali Design


Zipfish on Jul 15, 2012:

It goes through a stage that is like silly putty or goop.  You need to add more borax (I think).  It is like baking, humidity makes a difference.  So feel free to "tweak" as needed.


Silly putty girl on Jul 15, 2012:

Does this turn out like silly putty?

Cristina on Jul 03, 2012:

Hi there, my kids and I enjoyed this project but you might want to note somewhere that the balls in the photo above are not the homemade kind (unless yours turned out *way* better than ours!).  We were a little disappointed that ours were not as glossy-marbled-perfect until we looked more closely at the photo.

CapreeK on Jun 18, 2012:

Really! (haha):  Yes, I would hope no one is giving bouncy balls - homemade or from the toy store - to their dogs, period. A dog's likely to choke or, at the very least, destroy it and eat all the rubbery pieces. :(

CapreeK on Jun 18, 2012:

Zipfish - Thank you for all the additional info!

Really! on Jun 18, 2012:

Looks like it'll be fun to try! As for the comments made regarding giving it to the dog... Seriously?! Do people really have no common sense anymore? First of all, the tutorial said "fun for kids", not dogs, secondly, the blogger does not hold a phd, read carefully, it says this idea comes from a scientist (not a veterinarian)... I'll try this with my kids on a rainy day, and keep it away from my dogs ;)

Zipfish on Jun 15, 2012:

FYI: they will dry out.


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