Putty is a toy that almost anyone can enjoy. It can be puffed, bounced, stretched, or slapped on your face. It does everything you ask it to, without any complaints. Putty's chemical properties, which make it so flexible and durable, are surprisingly complex. It includes tongue-twister-like names such as polydimethylsiloxane or boric acid. It's not easy to duplicate at home. It is possible, but not easy.
This experiment allows you to transform two common products (cornstarch & dish soap) into endless hours non Newtonian fun.
If you're making a colored putty, all you need is 2/3 cup cornstarch, half cup dish soap, a spoon, small containers or bowls, and food coloring.
Dish soap and cornstarch make a great couple in terms of chemistry. Dish soap is a special agent that has molecules with polar opposite ends - a positively charged head, and a negatively charged tail. According to Keisha Walters (a University of Oklahoma polymers scientist), this causes the soap to stick to oil compounds and link up to the long carbon chains in cornstarch. She explains that flour is more processed so you can substitute starch for it in the experiment. The putty will then fall apart. The soap and starch will form a liquid, but solid, mixture that snaps back to its original shape.
Surfactants can be found in many things that you eat, drink and put on your body, including dish soap. Walters states that surfactants are used to stabilize non-dairy and orange juices so that food doesn't separate into liquids.
Walters recommends that you try other non-toxic combinations if you still have questions about this chemical reaction. "The understanding grows as you play more." You can try as many variations of Silly Putty as your heart desires. You can use it to expand your imagination.