You might have seen colorful squishy balls, and you were told they were water beads. What are water beads? is the next question that would definitely come to mind. Especially if you’ve never used them before.
Let’s look at everything you need to know about water beads.
1. What are Water Beads?
You should know that water beads are also known to be called sensory beads; both can be used interchangeably. They are small or tiny absorbent polymer crystals.
When you put these crystals into water, they become as big as the size of a marble. They can even grow bigger when kept in water for a longer period of time.
They are mostly colorful, and kids love to play and explore them. Watching the beads grow in water gives them a sense of satisfaction. One interesting fact about water beads is that children use them as toys, especially those with autism or special developmental conditions.
You can use them for decorating and for watering your plants.
2. Constituents of Water Beads
Maybe you are wondering what water beads are made of. You should know that water beads are made up of man-made (synthetic) or natural superabsorbent polymers. These polymers contain polyacrylate, acrylics, and petroleum products.
They are not just used in their raw form to produce water beads. You should know that they go through a series of chemical reactions to produce a large chain of molecules or polymers. These polymers formed from the reaction help the water beads to absorb a large amount of water.
3. Uses of Water Beads
Water beads can be used for different purposes. Listed below are some of the uses of water beads:
3.1. Small Toys
Water beads can be used as toys for kids. They can use them to transform sensory play into imaginary play with their other toys. Kids can get really creative with water beads when they are within reach.
3.2. Mini Lights
Apart from the fact that water beads are colorful, they also shine on light tables. They can be used as mini lights. When you place them on a light table, the light glows via the beads thereby making the place colorful and attractive.
You can place water beads in balloons used for decoration. It gives off a beautiful look as it changes the initial color of the ballon entirely.
3.4. Mix with Shaving Cream
You can add water beads to your shaving cream just for the fun of it. Shaving creams are known to be at odds with water beads.
3.5. Fluid Absorbers
You can use water beads as fluid absorbers in a host of things like menstrual pads, baby diapers, and incontinence diapers.
3.6. Water Beads for Plants
You can use water beads for your plants in place of constantly watering them. This is because they can help retain water and release water gradually.
There are different ways you can use these water beads on your plants:
- It is essential that you add water beads to the soil. This will ensure the even distribution of water in the soil.
- There are some plants that grow better with water beads than with regular soil. An example of such a plant is bamboo plants. You can use them in place of soil.
You can use water beads to decorate jars, vases, and bowels for weddings or any other events that require beautiful aesthetics. Since they come in different colors and sizes, you should go for the heart-shaped ones.
Here are some decorating ideas:
- You can combine different colors of beads and layer them on vases to give them a unique and attractive look.
- You can also introduce floating candles into the vases. You can add extra water to the vase if you wish to make the candles float aloof.
- You should add food coloring to the water. This would add more color and beauty to the beads.
- You can use introduce artificial flowers into the vase. If you want to make use of natural flowers, you can do that since the water beads would help keep the flowers hydrated.
3.8. Water Beads for Sensory Play
You can explore the use of water beads in various ways. Kids can have fun playing with them.
Here are some ideas to help your kids get started:
- The fact that the beads increase in size after being placed in water is exciting and thrilling to kids. You can make them watch as the beads expand in water.
- You can make use of sensory bins as your kids play with the beads as they feel the texture. Water beads are known to be sensory toys for most kids.
- If as a teacher you want to explain some scientific lessons to your kids, you can use the water beads to illustrate expansion between liquids and solids.
- Water beads can also be used for counting, sorting in different shapes and sizes, and measurement. Basically, you can use water beads to tutor basic maths.
4. How to Use Water Beads
If you are looking for how to use water beads, you just need to pay keen attention to the following instructions as they are pretty easy to use:
1. You should keep in mind that water beads are tiny and are usually dry. Ensure to keep them in place so they do not roll over the place.
2. You should place them in water for about five to eight hours to allow them to grow bigger than their initial size. If you want them to grow to the size of their limit, you should leave them in the water for a longer period of time. Letting them stay in water for eight hours will do the trick.
3. When these beads are fully immersed in water and have absorbed the water, they become jelly-like.
4. Immediately you are satisfied with the size of the beads you can use a strainer to dry out the excess water.
5. The fact that they can expand doesn’t mean that they cannot break. The beads can break if crushed hard or dropped on a hard surface.
6. You should make sure to keep the beads hydrated because the water can evaporate after several weeks.
5. Are Water Beads Dangerous?
Since water beads are attractive and irresistible to touch, kids can easily put them in their mouths thinking they are candies. They can get choked when swallowed, making them dangerous for kids.
You should know that swallowed water beads are difficult to digest and are removed via waste. There is every tendency that the beads will continue to grow inside the body when ingested. This is because of all the body fluids present in the body.
Unfortunately, this can lead to bowel obstruction, and surgery might be used to remove the beads.
Once you notice that a water bead has been swallowed, the right thing to do is to immediately take your child to the hospital. They might not need surgery if the bead is discovered earlier.
6. Safety Tips for Water Beads
There are some safety tips for you when buying water beads:
1. Make sure that you do not have any infants at home before buying water beads. They should be at least three years old before you introduce them to your home.
2. You should make sure to thoroughly sweep the area once you’re done with the beads. Since they are tiny when dry, they can hide in places you might not be able to reach.
3. Ensure that you keep the water beads in a container with a tight seal to prevent easy access to children.
4. Make sure that you are around your kids when they are using water beads.
5. If you have pets around, ensure that they do not go about playing with water beads. It can result in a choking hazard.
7. How to Know Your Child Swallowed Water Beads
There are some signs you can use to know when your child has swallowed water beads, they include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Chest pain
- Bloated abdomen
- Difficulty in breathing
8. How to Reuse Water Beads
There are different ways you can use water beads. You can either rehydrate or hydrate them.
To dehydrate them, all you have to do is to place them in a single layer and let them dry all out. You should consider keeping them in a place where the humidity is low. This will help to dry them out faster.
You can now preserve them in a container with a seal for future purposes.
You should know that these beads can last for many years when stored properly.
9. How to Store Water Beads
You can store water beads in the following ways:
1. Keep them in a plastic airtight container. Make sure that they are dehydrated before storing them.
2. If you want to reuse them, you just have to bring them out of the jar and add water to them.
3. Immediately you notice that the beads are becoming moldy, you should use distilled liquid fertilizer to treat them.
4. Once you are done with the application of the fertilizer, you should rinse the beads and keep them in another container filled with cold water.
10. How to Dispose of Water Beads
When you discover that there are molds around your water beads make sure to discard them immediately. Be on the lookout for tiny black spots formed on the body of the beads.
A great way to dispose of them is to add them to your soil. This will help in the growth of plants as it contains and retains water for a long period of time.
You can also throw them in the trash can when and if you have no use for them anymore.
11. In The End
Although water beads can be used by kids to play and have fun. You should be very cautious about the way they use them. Ensure to supervise your kids when they play with water beads to avoid any form of a choking hazard.
Don’t forget to immediately seek medical attention once you find out that your child has swallowed a water bead.