DIY, Education

We Made Proto-Putty and it Stinks!

Earlier this week we attempted to make a very smelly DIY:  Proto-Putty.  Lil’ man saw it on the YouTube channel The King of Random.  He has become a huge fan of TKOR.  I’m more than happy to let him watch this one.  We do not use YouTube Kids since filters are faulty and the app doesn’t include some fantastic smaller channels.  We have set our expectations, and Lil’ Man knows what he is and isn’t allowed to watch (e.g., cursing or channels that just open up toys).

TKOR is family-friendly, and it has a Mythbusters like quality to it in which viewers request random experiments or DIYs.  The hosts, Grant and Nate, then go about trying to fulfill these requests.  Sometimes the subject is something as simple as how to dye Easter eggs using Koolaid, (I’ve seen this one on a lot of blogs, but have never done it myself), or as complex as building a remote control Mario Kart Koopa Shell.

When Lil’ Man saw Grant make Proto-Putty last spring he requested that we make it for an episode of Lil’ Man’s Lab.  (We are so behind on this series as our July experiment, DIY snake firework, didn’t quite work out.  Constant storms that month kept us from attempting the experiment again.) After some thought on how we could do something unique with the putty, I agreed.  We decided we were going to use it to make custom bath bomb molds from Lil’ Man’s toys.

Thanks to the rain, the poor kid had to wait all summer to give this DIY a try.  The silicone has acetic acid, and you will notice even outside with a mask on that it has a very strong vinegar smell.

The Proto-Putty is very simple and inexpensive to make.  All you need is silicone from the hardware store (make sure it is type 1 and 100% silicone), corn starch, and food coloring.  Grant doesn’t provide any exact measurements in the video, so we set about making two test batches.  You’ll also need paper bowls, popsicle sticks, gloves, and objects (to mold the putty).  I also recommend a mask!

proto-putty batch 1

Test Batch #1

The first batch I kneaded the dyed silicone in my gloved hands after coating it in corn starch.  I added more corn starch as the putty absorbed it (it will get sticky again), but after a while I just gave up on trying to get the exact consistency seen in the video.  The stuff really stinks, and I wanted to get away from it.  I applied the sticky mess to some legos and let it cure for 10 minutes.

proto putty batch 1
As you can see this batch is a mess!

Test Batch #2

This time I kneaded the dyed silicone in the bowl of corn starch.  This worked much better and was a closer approximation to what you see in the video.  This time we tried molding it to a Mickey Mouse sand mold to see how well the silicone would pick up the finer features on the mold.

proto-putty batch 2
This time I kneaded the silicone in the corn starch.
proto putty batch 2
Not enough silicone to cover the mold!

Note:  As I mentioned earlier, the video from TKOR does not give measured amounts for each ingredient.  We learned that you will need to use the whole tube of silicone in order to get a decent amount of putty.

Proto Putty

After curing, I let both batches air out on the porch for 24 hours.  They still smelled.  So I left them out for 48 hours, then 72 hours, then…well, you get the picture.  They are still out there a week later.  Honestly, they probably stopped smelling a few days ago, but I figured I wouldn’t take my chances.

Other than the smell, this is a really clever DIY with scientific applications.  With younger children, like Lil’ Man, you can talk about the basics of chemical reactions, (in this case it is a liquid causing the silicone to change into a solid), and the states of matter.  Once Lil’ Man’s dad has some time in his busy schedule we will give this another try and actually film it this time.  My plan the next time is to have Adrian do the DIY with Lil’ Man while I stand at a safe distance behind the camera.

Let us know in the comments if you give this DIY a try!  What did you make with the proto-putty?

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