Thursday, November 13, 2014

Science Party: Fake Snow and Edible Worms

I couldn't quite believe that we were voluntarily making fake snow during the one season in the year that is a break from real snow. But Emily thought it was a dramatic and fun activity for her party, so we did.

Fake snow is just a chemical called sodium polyacrylate. It's the same thing that disposable diapers are stuffed with - it absorbs a lot of liquid and fluffs up without feeling really wet. There are many ways to get this - you could rip open a disposable diaper, buy it in bulk by the pound online (try amazon) or just buy a little kit at the dollar store. We used this, which we bought at Michaels the Craft Store with our 40% discount coupon, because it was the most economical in the amount we needed. It didn't come with the test-tube, by the way. That was ours, but it's in the photo to show how little we actually used per guest.

This was what each guest got - a teaspoon of the fake snow and about a quarter cup of water.

Our guests emptied the test tube into a plastic cup,

dumped in the water

and, seconds later, had instant snow.

Here's what it looks like, all poured out.

Not surprisingly, everyone asked if they could add food coloring to get colored snow. I'm quite sure one could add it to the water before mixing that with the powder, but we opted not to.

We next made edible gelatinous worms.

This is actually a bona fide culinary technique as much as it is a fun Science experiment. There are two chemicals involved: sodium alginate and calcium chloride. We bought our food-grade portions on amazon here.

They come in an amorphous form, and have to be prepared as solutions before mixing them to create the worms. The instructions are very simple, and involve stirring or mixing in a blender. We used these here. In addition to these two chemicals, we also used various flavors and food coloring:

We prepared enough calcium chloride solution for each guest to have about a half-cup. We also made individual batches of the sodium alginate mixture in three flavors: orange, lime and grape. These were put in squeeze bottles and refrigerated so they were nice and cold (because nobody likes lukewarm worms). We made six batches in total, two of each flavor, and divided the bottles among the three tables at which the guests sat.

It only took a few minutes to explain how to make the worms and to assure the kids that they were indeed edible, and very safe, and quite tasty, besides. To make them, just squeeze the sodium alginate mixture into the calcium chloride solution.

If you squeezed long uninterrupted streams of liquid, you'd get worms.

They form instantly, and can be fished out with a fork.

They are very squishy, and because the two chemicals become solid where they touch, only the skin of the worms is really gel-like; the inside of the worms is still liquid. A bit too much like real-live worms for me to appreciate the analogy, but the kids thought it was awesome.

If you squeezed the mixture in single drops, you'd get little beads.

The sixteen kids really enjoyed swopping squeeze bottles around to make worms in all three colors and only stopped when the mixture ran out.

Bon Appetit!


  1. The worms looked like great fun! The fake snow I could do without (she said, looking at the too-white ground out the window), although I have to admit it was interesting to learn how it's made. :)

  2. Thanks for the wonderful worms which look yummy by the way :)
    We tried the diaper snow thing once, but desisted after reading about the health hazards - have forgotten now but it was something to do with the microfibres which should not be inhaled. This seems a safer option. Diapers were fun though!

  3. I'll have to trye the worms! That looks like so much fun for the kids (and adults).


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