The ultimate slime guide

The ultimate slime guide

I have been asked a lot lately about slime recipes that do not require borax powder (as it is difficult to source in Ireland at the moment); We have tried and tested some alternatives (it’s a tough job but someone has to do it 😉 ) and here are our favourite slime recipes.

Borax

Firstly, we do still love our slime recipes made with borax powder; our favourite is the glowing monster slime, you can find the recipe here. If you can get your hands on some borax powder, it is worth trying it out.

When people talk about slime recipes without borax they actually mean, without borax powder. These recipes (except for the silly putty one at the end) all contain borax in some form; I just wanted to make that clear as I feel many borax-free slime recipes are misnomers.

Making slime with contact lens solution

Luckily, when we can’t find borax powder, we can often find borax in other forms, in other products. One example is contact lens solutions that contain boric acid and sodium borate. If you can find those ingredients on the label then these recipes should work.

We tried out a number of different contact lens solutions (thanks to Elizabeth from Life on Hushabye farm for helping me out with this; Elizabeth is an optometrist). Thanks too to Sinead from Crafty Fun Kids for suggesting the boots contact lens solution, we have tried that one out too, as you’ll see below.

What solutions did we test?

For the purpose of this post we tried out three different contact lens solutions. If you want to try something similar just take a look at the label, ideally you want it to contain boric acid and sodium borate, but we tested one with just the boric acid and still got some results.

The quantities we state below may vary depending on the type of glue you use, the food colouring, contact lens solution etc so it is always best to add the contact lens solution in small amounts to ensure you don’t add too much.

These are the three contact lens solutions we tested:

  1. ReNu contact lens solution by Bausch and Lomb, containing boric acid and sodium borate. This one cost €8.50 for 120mls. Although expensive it we only needed to use a little so it will last a long time and it gave us the best results.
  2. Lens plus contact lens solution by OcuPure; this contact lens solution cost €4.50 for 120mls; it contained boric acid, but NOT sodium borate.
  3. All in one solution travel pack by Boots, containing voric acid and sodium borate. This one cost €4.99 for 60mls.

Basic slime recipe (with ReNu contact lens solution)

You will need:

  • PVA glue (white or clear)
  • Food colouring (optional)
  • Baking soda (Bread soda)
  • ReNu contact lens solution
  • Bowl for mixing and something for stirring
  • Measuring spoons
  • A sealable bag or container to store your slime in afterwards

What to do:

  • Pour 1/8 cup (30mls) of PVA glue into the bowl
  • Add a few drops of food colouring if using
  • Add ½ teaspoon bread soda
  • Mix all together
  • Add approximately 1 teaspoon of ReNu contact lens solution while continuing to mix. It may be best to add half a teaspoon first, you get better slime if you don’t add too much contact lens solution.
  • Once the slime starts to stick together and comes away from the sides of the bowl, take it into your hands and start kneading and stretching it. Don’t worry if it is still a little sticky when you start.

Our verdict:

8/10

This gave a great slime that was stretchy and non-sticky and lasted well once placed in a sealed bag or container.

Glowing slime recipe (with ReNu contact lens solution)

You will need:

  • PVA glue (white or clear)
  • Fluorescent paint
  • Baking soda (Bread soda)
  • ReNu contact lens solution
  • Bowl for mixing and something for stirring
  • Measuring spoons
  • A sealable bag or container to store your slime in afterwards

What to do:

  • Pour 1/8 cup (30mls) of PVA glue into the bowl
  • Add I tablespoon (15mls) fluorescent paint
  • Add ½ teaspoon bread soda
  • Mix all together
  • Add approximately 3 teaspoon of ReNu contact lens solution while continuing to mix. It may be best to add one teaspoon at a time and mix. You may not need all the contact lens solution and you get better slime if you don’t add too much of it.
  • Once the slime starts to stick together and comes away from the sides of the bowl, take it into your hands and start kneading and stretching it. Don’t worry if it is still a little sticky when you start.
  • If you have a black light (UV light) then turn try it out in a dark room and see your slime glow!

Our verdict:

8/10

Again we got a really nice slime that was stretchy and non-sticky and lasted well once placed in a sealed bag or container.

Fluffy slime recipe (with ReNu contact lens solution)

You will need:

  • PVA glue (white or clear)
  • Food colouring (optional)
  • Baking soda (Bread soda)
  • Shaving foam
  • ReNu contact lens solution
  • Bowl for mixing and something for stirring
  • Measuring spoons
  • A sealable bag or container to store your slime in afterwards

What to do:

  • Pour 1/8 cup (30mls) of PVA glue into the bowl
  • Add a few drops of food colouring (optional)
  • Add ½ teaspoon bread soda
  • Add 1 cup of shaving foam
  • Mix all together
  • Add approximately 3 teaspoon of ReNu contact lens solution while continuing to mix. It may be best to add one teaspoon at a time and mix. You may not need all the contact lens solution and you get better slime if you don’t add too much of it.
  • Once the slime starts to stick together and comes away from the sides of the bowl, take it into your hands and start kneading and stretching it. Don’t worry if it is still a little sticky when you start.

The shaving foam allows lots of air pockets to be trapped in the slime mixture, making it supper fluffy!

Our verdict:

9/10

We really loved this one! It is so soft and fluffy you could literally play with it for hours. Although some of the air was released after storage, it still kept much of its fluffiness which was a big plus.

Basic slime recipe (with Lens Plus contact lens solution)

You will need: 

  • PVA glue (white or clear)
  • Food colouring (optional)
  • Baking soda (Bread soda)
  • Lens Plus contact lens solution
  • Bowl for mixing and something for stirring
  • Measuring spoons
  • A sealable bag or container to store your slime in afterwards

What to do:

  • Pour 1/8 cup (30mls) of PVA glue into the bowl
  • Add a few drops of food colouring if using
  • Add ½ teaspoon bread soda
  • Mix all together
  • Add approximately 5 teaspoon of Lens Plus contact lens solution while continuing to mix. It may be best to add half a teaspoon first; you get better slime if you don’t add too much contact lens solution.
  • Once the slime starts to stick together and comes away from the sides of the bowl, take it into your hands and start kneading and stretching it. Don’t worry if it is still a little sticky when you start.

Our verdict:

6/10

This gave a nice slime that was stretchy and non-sticky and lasted well once placed in a sealed bag or container. We just felt it required more contact lens solution that the ones that contained sodium borate and took a while longer to make. Although this contact lens solution was cheaper, we had to use a lot more so it was less cost effective.

Glowing slime recipe (with Lens PLus contact lens solution)

You will need:

  • PVA glue (white or clear)
  • Fluorescent paint
  • Baking soda (Bread soda)
  • Lens Plus contact lens solution
  • Bowl for mixing and something for stirring
  • Measuring spoons
  • A sealable bag or container to store your slime in afterwards

What to do:

  • Pour 1/8 cup (30mls) of PVA glue into the bowl
  • Add I tablespoon (15mls) fluorescent paint
  • Add 5-6 teaspoon bread soda
  • Mix all together
  • Add approximately 20 teaspoon of Lens Plus contact lens solution while continuing to mix. You may not need all the contact lens solution and you get better slime if you don’t add too much of it.
  • Once the slime starts to stick together and comes away from the sides of the bowl, take it into your hands and start kneading and stretching it. Don’t worry if it is still a little sticky when you start.
  • If you have a blacklight (UV light) then turn try it out in a dark room and see your slime glow!

Our verdict:

3/10

It took a long time to get this slime just right and it required a lot of contact lens solution. We also found that the slime did not store well and was not much good the next day.

Fluffy slime recipe (with Lens Plus contact lens solution)

You will need:

  • PVA glue (white or clear)
  • Food colouring (optional)
  • Baking soda (Bread soda)
  • Shaving foam
  • Lens Plus contact lens solution
  • Bowl for mixing and something for stirring
  • Measuring spoons
  • A sealable bag or container to store your slime in afterwards

What to do:

  • Pour 1/8 cup (30mls) of PVA glue into the bowl
  • Add a few drops of food colouring (optional)
  • Add 5-6 teaspoon bread soda
  • Add 1 cup of shaving foam
  • Mix all together
  • Add approximately 10 teaspoon of Lens Plus contact lens solution while continuing to mix. You may not need all the contact lens solution and you get better slime if you don’t add too much of it.

Once the slime starts to stick together and comes away from the sides of the bowl, take it into your hands and start kneading and stretching it. Don’t worry if it is still a little sticky when you start.

The shaving foam allows lots of air pockets to be trapped in the slime mixture, making it supper fluffy!

Our verdict:

5/10

Again, it took a long time to get this slime just right and it required a lot of contact lens solution. We also found that the slime did not store well and was not much good the next day.

Basic slime recipe (with Boots contact lens solution)

You will need: 

  • PVA glue (white or clear)
  • Food colouring (optional)
  • Baking soda (Bread soda)
  • Boots contact lens solution
  • Bowl for mixing and something for stirring
  • Measuring spoons
  • A sealable bag or container to store your slime in afterwards

What to do:

  • Pour 1/8 cup (30mls) of PVA glue into the bowl
  • Add a few drops of food colouring if using
  • Add 1 teaspoon bread soda
  • Mix all together
  • Add approximately 1 teaspoon of Boots contact lens solution while continuing to mix. It may be best to add this is small amounts, you get better slime if you don’t add too much contact lens solution.
  • Once the slime starts to stick together and comes away from the sides of the bowl, take it into your hands and start kneading and stretching it. Don’t worry if it is still a little sticky when you start.

Our verdict:

7/10

This gave a nice slime that was stretchy and non-sticky and lasted well once placed in a sealed bag or container.

Glowing slime recipe (with Boots contact lens solution)

You will need:

  • PVA glue (white or clear)
  • Fluorescent paint
  • Baking soda (Bread soda)
  • Boots contact lens solution
  • Bowl for mixing and something for stirring
  • Measuring spoons
  • A sealable bag or container to store your slime in afterwards

What to do:

  • Pour 1/8 cup (30mls) of PVA glue into the bowl
  • Add I tablespoon (15mls) fluorescent paint
  • Add 2-3 teaspoon bread soda
  • Mix all together
  • Add approximately 4-5 teaspoon of Boots contact lens solution while continuing to mix. It may be best to add one teaspoon at a time and mix. You may not need all the contact lens solution and you get better slime if you don’t add too much of it.
  • Once the slime starts to stick together and comes away from the sides of the bowl, take it into your hands and start kneading and stretching it. Don’t worry if it is still a little sticky when you start.
  • If you have a blacklight (UV light) then turn try it out in a dark room and see your slime glow!

Our verdict:

6/10

Again we got a really nice slime that was stretchy and non-sticky and lasted well once placed in a sealed bag or container. We took off a few points because it needed a good bit of contact lens solution and because the slime felt a little wet the next day.

Fluffy slime recipe (with Boots contact lens solution)

You will need:

  • PVA glue (white or clear)
  • Food colouring (optional)
  • Baking soda (Bread soda)
  • Shaving foam
  • Boots contact lens solution
  • Bowl for mixing and something for stirring
  • Measuring spoons
  • A sealable bag or container to store your slime in afterwards

What to do:

  • Pour 1/8 cup (30mls) of PVA glue into the bowl
  • Add a few drops of food colouring (optional)
  • Add 2 teaspoon bread soda
  • Add 1 cup of shaving foam
  • Mix all together
  • Add approximately 1-2 teaspoon of Boots contact lens solution while continuing to mix. It may be best to add one teaspoon at a time and mix. You may not need all the contact lens solution and you get better slime if you don’t add too much of it.
  • Once the slime starts to stick together and comes away from the sides of the bowl, take it into your hands and start kneading and stretching it. Don’t worry if it is still a little sticky when you start.

The shaving foam allows lots of air pockets to be trapped in the slime mixture, making it supper fluffy!

Our verdict:

8/10

Again we really liked this slime , it made fantastic fluffy slime but it didn’t last in storage. If you are OK with that then it’s definitely worth making.

The Science bit:

We make slime from PVA glue if borate ions can combine with the glue, forming additional links between the molecules and creating the polymer we call slime.

This contact lens solution contained boric acid and sodium borate; in order for them to release the borate ions to allow them bind with the glue, we needed to add bread soda.

The bread soda reacts with the boric acid and sodium borate in an acid-base reaction, releasing the borate ions.

Making slime with liquid laundry detergent

This one took a lot of wrongs to get a right! I tried Aldi’s non-bio gel repeatedly, and with every alteration and variation I could imagine but I couldn’t get it to work.  Using washing detergents is a lot more tricky as borax is not listed in any form in the ingredients, instead it comes under the general term of optical brightener. My guess is that Aldi have changed the optical brighteners they use in their non-bio gel so the product no longer contains borax.

The good news is that I did find an alternative that does work… Lidl’s Formil bio liquid detergent (not the gel). We got the 3 Litre bottle for less than €5 but I believe there is a 1.5L option as well. Just make sure you get non-bio and liquid not gel!

Like the contact lens solution, a little goes a long way, so this will last us years!

Basic slime (liquid laundry detergent)

You will need: 

  • PVA glue (white or clear)
  • Food colouring (optional)
  • Lidl Formil liquid laundry detergent
  • Bowl for mixing and something for stirring
  • Measuring spoons
  • A sealable bag or container to store your slime in afterwards

What to do:

  • Pour 1/8 cup (30mls) of PVA glue into the bowl
  • Add a few drops of food colouring (optional)
  • Add about 1 teaspoon Lidl liquid laundry detergent (try and add this a little at a time as you make not need it all)
  • Mix all together
  • Once the slime starts to stick together and comes away from the sides of the bowl, take it into your hands and start kneading and stretching it. Don’t worry if it is still a little sticky when you start.

Our verdict:

8/10

This gave a nice slime that was stretchy and non-sticky and lasted well once placed in a sealed bag or container.

We combined this basic slime recipe with a variation on the glowing slime recipe below to make a mix we call… Cosmic slime; take a look at the video to find out how…

Glowing slime (with liquid laundry detergent)

You will need:

  • PVA glue (white or clear)
  • Fluorescent plaint
  • Lidl Formil liquid laundry detergent
  • Bowl for mixing and something for stirring
  • Measuring spoons
  • A sealable bag or container to store your slime in afterwards

What to do:

  • Pour 1/8 cup (30mls) of PVA glue into the bowl
  • Add 1 tablespoon (15mls) fluorescent paint
  • Add ½ to 1 teaspoon Lidl liquid laundry detergent (try and add this a little at a time as you make not need it all)
  • Mix all together
  • Once the slime starts to stick together and comes away from the sides of the bowl, take it into your hands and start kneading and stretching it. Don’t worry if it is still a little sticky when you start.

Our verdict:

8/10

This great slime that was stretchy and non-sticky and lasted well once placed in a sealed bag or container. This recipe worked the best with the paint. We also changed this around a little, adding other coloured (tempura) paints and combining colours.

You can change around the recipe to make your own creations; in this one we made two bowls of different coloured slime (using tempura paint) and them combined them for this cool, marbled effect.

Fluffy slime (with liquid laundry detergent)

You will need:

  • PVA glue (white or clear)
  • Food colouring (optional)
  • Lidl Formil liquid laundry detergent
  • Bowl for mixing and something for stirring
  • Measuring spoons
  • A sealable bag or container to store your slime in afterwards

What to do:

  • Pour 1/8 cup (30mls) of PVA glue into the bowl
  • Add 1 cup of shaving foam
  • Add a few drops of food colouring (optional)
  • Add ½ to 1 teaspoon Lidl liquid laundry detergent (try and add this a little at a time as you make not need it all)
  • Mix all together
  • Once the slime starts to stick together and comes away from the sides of the bowl, take it into your hands and start kneading and stretching it. Don’t worry if it is still a little sticky when you start.

Our verdict:

9/10

It’s like candy floss slime… what’s not to love!

The science bit

This is another slime recipe that relies on borate ions. This time they are in laundry detergent. As we don’t consume laundry detergent the ingredients are not listed in the same way; they do not need to be named as specifically as for foods. I assume that the borate ions are present in some form as the optical brighteners listed in the ingredient.

Pros

This was quick, easy, fairly forgiving and made fantastic slime. We preferred it to the slime we made with the contact lens solution. You can literally make slime with just two ingredients, and it is great slime!

Cons

You really only need a small amount of liquid detergent which can be hard to add in such small quantities. If you add a little too much the slime can be a little more rubbery, but it’s still cool!

To make the best slime you need to add a little less liquid detergent and just knead the slime very well in your hands; this makes for a messier process but you’ll be rewarded with some really great slime!

Silly putty (no borax at all)

This is a fun alternative to slime that requires no borax in any form and you probably have the ingredients you need right in your kitchen.

You will need:

  • Dish washing liquid or liquid soap
  • Food colouring
  • Cornflour
  • Bowl for mixing and something for stirring
  • Measuring spoons
  • A sealable bag or container to store your slime in afterwards

What to do:

  • Place ½ cup of cornflour in the bowl
  • Add ¼ cup dish washing liquid or liquid soap
  • Add a few drops of food colouring of your choice
  • Mix well then remove from the bowl and knead and that’s it!
All the colours of the rainbow – silly putty

Pros:

This is very fast and easy to make and kids love it! It is a great activity for sensory play for children. You can mix it up too, add glitter or be really adventurous and make rainbow silly putty, you’ll find how here!

Cons:

This silly putty doesn’t tend to last as long as regular slime (about a week) so you usually have to remake a batch anytime you want some.

A bit about safety

Firstly, we do not recommend that children do these experiments unsupervised! Some of this slime may look good enough to eat… make sure they don’t! Each one of these recipes contains something that may irritate sensitive skin (contact lens solution, laundry detergent, dish washing liquid and liquid soap can all cause irritation) so get the children to wear gloves, if in doubt. Both of my boys can suffer with eczema and can only have their clothes washed in one type of laundry detergent but none of these recipes affected them. Remember to get them to wash their hands afterwards and limit the length of time they will play with the slime, if you think it may irritate.

Our overall recommendations

If working with young children we’d definitely recommend starting with the silly putty.

If going for a contact lens solution try to get one with both boric acid and sodium borate, you’ll get a lot more slime for your buck at the end of the day. Our favourite was the ReNu contact lens solution, we felt it made the best slime and we needed very little of it so it will last us a long time.

Our favourite overall slime was probably the any that we made with the Lidl Formil liquid laundry detergent; it was the most simple recipe, the slime we made was really great and it will last us for a VERY long time.

We HIGHLY RECOMMEND making the fluffy slime… it’s like marshmallows or candy floss. It was definitely the favourite one… just remember not to eat it!

Remember, once you get the basics you can adjust the recipes to customise your slime whatever way you like. Adding some glitter to any of the recipes is a great place to start.

Enjoy and let us know how you get on 🙂

 

Pancakes- everything you didn’t realise you needed to know

Pancakes- everything you didn’t realise you needed to know

Ok, this week’s blog inspiration is slightly different to the norm.  Usually the idea comes from a question that a child has posed – this time there is a slight deviation, but only slight…. this weeks question came from an adult, but only in the chronological sense – as in fact he is classified as the biggest kid in our house- it was posed by my husband.  I was making pancakes the other morning (as I do every weekend on the request of my son) when my husband pondered aloud…”I wonder what the reason behind each ingredient is… and who made the first pancakes”.  As I was wondering what next to blog about the two ideas seemed to merge into one, and so was born the question…..

…..”WHAT IS THE SCIENCE BEHIND A GOOD PANCAKE, AND WHO’S IDEA WAS IT?”…..

Made in the name of science

A BIT OF HISTORY…

So, before I delve into the science behind the PERFECT PANCAKE, I thought I’d look at a little bit of history first.  The pancake as we know it seems to be accredited to the ancient Greeks, who in the 6th century started combining ground wheat with olive oil, honey and milk – and so the first pancake was born. If we expand on our concept of what a pancake really is we could look back further still to the process of making flat bread from ground grains and nuts mixed with milk or water, dating back to the neolithic period.

WHAT DO WE FIND IN A MODERN PANCAKE?

If we start within Europe a modern pancake can be classified as the round flat variety similar to the french crepe which contains some form of flour, and a liquid such as milk or water.  These flat pancakes usually also contain eggs and butter, and sugar in the sweetened variety.  Then we also have the thicker, fluffier pancakes that contain a raising agent, the name and variation of these include drop scones, Scottish pancakes and of course the well know buttermilk pancakes that are most common in America.

In our house the three most common pancakes made are the buttermilk pancakes, drop scones and the sweet flat crepe like ones.

WHAT GOES INTO A PANCAKE…

If we take a closer look at the primary ingredients we begin to see the complexity and science that really goes into making these delights:

FLOUR… this ingredient can be considered the backbone of the pancake as it provides structure
SUGAR….as well as adding the nice sweet taste and contributing to the colour of the pancake, sugar also keeps the pancake from getting to thick and stodgy
EGGS…. the proteins in the eggs add to the structure of the pancake and to the overall flavour
BUTTER/FAT… as with the sugar, the fats keep the pancake tender and prevent them becoming overly stodgy
MILK/WATER… the liquid portion of the pancake adds to the structure and is necessary for certain chemical reactions to occur
RAISING AGENT…  as the name suggests, these agents help raise the pancake, making them light and fluffy

You can of course find many varieties with their own local changes and substitutes, potatoes are commonly used as the starch ingredient instead of flour.

First lets take a look at the thin flat pancake or crepe… in this case we will assume they contain flour, milk and sugar.  From the above list we can now predict that the flour is the body of the pancake, it provides the structure, but how does it do this?  There are two proteins found in flour called glutenin and gliadin.  When moisture is added to flour (in this case the milk) these two proteins link together to form gluten.  Gluten is a “sticky” protein, this stickiness allows it to form a network and it is this that adds structure to the batter.  Finally we come to the sugar which caramelizes with the heat adding sweetness to the mix and contributing to the colour of the pancake as it cooks.  The sugar also prevents the pancakes becoming too thick and stodgy by reducing the amount of gluten produced.

Image credit: jbeancuisine.com

So now we move on to the thicker pancakes; the main difference with these is that they contain a raising agent!  Yeast is a biological raising agent used in some baking, it produces carbon dioxide gas while digesting sugar and this gas forms tiny bubbles within the yeast.  When heat is added during baking these bubbles expand making the bread/cake “rise”.

The main drawback with baking with yeast is that it requires time and who really wants to wait too long for their breakfast?  That is why, when using raising agents in pancake mixtures, we substitute the yeast for bread soda and/or yeast; but who can really tell what the difference is between these two?

Bread soda verse baking powder

Bread soda (also known as baking soda) is pure sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder contains bread soda but it also contains a powdered acid (usually cream of tartar – potassium bitartrate).  Bread soda is an alkali/base and will therefore react with an acid (such as the buttermilk used in pancake batter) producing salt, water and carbon dioxide gas…

BREAD SODA + ACID —–> SALT + H20 + CO2

This carbon dioxide gas gets trapped in thousands of tiny bubbles within the gluten making the pancake batter rise on cooking into light and fluffy wonders!  (The same process as with the yeast but a lot quicker).

The baking powder has the added advantage of having the acid already present, so once a liquid is added the dry acid and alkali can react in the same manner as above.

So now that we are starting to understand the science of it all how do we use this knowledge to make the best pancakes.  before we jump into this one we first have to consider the science of flavour and odour!

THE SCIENCE OF FLAVOUR

The Maillard reaction describes a chemical reaction requiring certain amino acids and sugars and the addition of heat to produce the molecules responsible for the odours and flavour of food.  Now there is a science worth studying!

MAILLARD REACTION:  Amino Acids + sugar + heat —-> flavour and odour

So what does this have to do with our pancakes?  Well Maillard reactions work best in alkali conditions so bread soda is a definite plus is making golden tasty treats.  HOWEVER, add too much bread soda and the pancake will brown too quickly and will have an acrid burnt flavour, not to mention the unpleasant taste produced from the left over breadsoda.  It is trickier than we think and yes, of course, someone has already done the science bit for us to work out the ideal amount of bread soda required.

WE ARE HUNGRY – SPEED IT UP

You will be glad to hear that speed is recommended when preping pancakes;  Although it is good to allow the batter sit for a few minutes to allow the gluten to “relax” (build up a sufficient network) it has been shown that if left too long the bubbles will have burst and the pancakes will be flat and dense once cooked.

SCIENCE IN MY KITCHEN

I decided I had to try some of this pancake science out for myself so turned to my original buttermilk pancake mix from the wonderful NIGELLA LAWSON.  This recipe actually uses both baking soda and baking powder (I omitted the banana).  I decided to test out two theories…

1.  Does the amount of bread soda determine the colour and flavour of the pancake?
2.  Does the length of time the batter is left standing really make that much of a difference?

To keep it simple, I decided to keep everything else (including the amount of baking powder) constant.
So I donned my apron in favour of my labcoat and I set to work.  I prepared the basic batter mix excluding the addition of bread soda.  To digress for a moment, I also followed another golden pancake rule – not to over-mix the batter (a few small lumps of flour allows it better absorb the liquid and produce gluten).

My “slighlty lumpy” pancake batter

I dived my basic batter mix between four bowls and then added different amounts of bread soda to each (the first bowl had no bread soda, the second had half the recommended amount, the third had the recommended amount and the fourth had double what was recommended!).  Then I let the batter sit for five minutes before cooking the pancakes.

Here are my results…  the pancake on the top left had no bread soda, top right had 1/2 the recommended amount, bottom left had the ideal amount and bottom right had twice the recommended amount.  You can see how the pancake gets darker with the addition of more bread soda, with the last one being just a bit too dark.  The taste test revealed that the one on the bottom left had the best taste (and texture) and that the one with the most bread soda had that unpleasant taste of bread soda!

To investigate my second question I left the same pancake batters sit for two hours before cooking them.  As you can see the pancakes cooked after two hours were indeed a lot less light and fluffy and were a bit soggy inside!

The batter for these was left sit for five minutes
The batter for these was left two hours

WHY ARE PANCAKES ROUND?

Pancakes are round for two main reasons: gravity and surface tension.  Assuming that the pancake pan is flat then once the batter is added gravity will pull on all parts of the batter uniformly in all directions, pulling it out into a round shape.  Surface tension pulls evenly on the edges keeping them restrained into the round shape.

THE SCIENCE OF FLIPPING A PANCAKE…

Would you believe that someone has actually looked into the exact science of pancake flipping?  How cool is that ….

According to University Professor of Mathematics Frank Smith, the simple mathematical formula for the perfect flip is: L = 4 H /P- D / 2
(L = hand distance from inner edge of the pancake / H = height of flip / D = diameter of pancake)

If that sounds a bit too complicated check this out …

Dr. Tungate, a senior physics lecturer at Birmingham University, found that “a pancake should be flipped into the air at a speed of 10 miles-an-hour, which means that it takes less than .5 of a second to reach the top of its trajectory.”

AND THEN THERE IS THE SCIENCE OF WHAT YOU ACTUALLY PUT ON YOUR PANCAKES…

… but I think that is a whole other blog! So whatever toppings you choose I hope you enjoy your pancakes today!!

All that science made me hungry!

And if you still want more….HERE IS AN EXPERIMENT YOU CAN TRY….

Inflating balloons… This experiment shows two fun ways of inflating balloons, kids will love it, it’s easy to do and it teaches some kitchen science… like the difference between using yeast and bread soda as raising agents in baking!

Further reading:
Pancakes served with a side of science.
Celebrate your pancakes with a side of science.
Baking powder verses baking soda.
The history of pancakes.