Water beads or popularly known as orbeez, are a popular toy among children. The toy’s ability to expand and grow in water makes it unique and fun for children to play with. Apart from being a toy, other children use it for their science projects.
But how do orbeez work? What is the science behind this toy? Orbeez is made up of superabsorbent polymers or SAP, which have the ability to absorb water. This unique ability makes the toy expand as it stays in the water. The science behind this unique orbeez ability will be discussed in this article.
How Does Orbeez Work
What makes orbeez unique is that they tend to become larger once put into the water. The growth happens while still maintaining its original shape. This ability makes it fun for the kids while they are playing with the toy. But how do orbeez do it?
As they say, it is all about science. The chemistry behind this unique toy is the materials it is made of. Orbeez is made of superabsorbent polymers (SAP)with water-absorbing properties. This type of polymer can absorb and retain a large volume of liquids relative to its own mass.
A superabsorbent polymer is made of smaller molecules combined together to form a single superabsorbent polymer. Its ability to absorb water will result in the polymer growing as the water goes inside the molecules.
The superabsorbent polymer is just one of the many types of polymers available. Among the more popular polymers is the Sodium Polyacrylate which works similarly to the superabsorbent polymer although it is not used in orbeez. But this polymer comes with a polar charge which will enable the polymer to mix with other liquids through the use of hydrogen bonds.
How Does Orbeez Grow?
When the orbeez goes into the water, their absorption capabilities immediately work just like a sponge. But there is a big difference when compared to the porosity of the sponge and orbeez because they do work differently.
When the orbeez absorbs the water, a diffusion gradient happens. This situation is where a movement of molecules occurs in an area with a higher concentration into an area with a lower concentration. The random movement of these molecules will tell the difference in concentration in the two areas, which is the gradient.
Once the diffusion gradient absorbs the water, the water molecules will then go inside the polymer chains. This situation will expand the orbeez with all the water molecules inside the polymer chains.
Once the polymer chains expand, you will notice that the orbeez will also grow slowly. The polymer chains inside the orbeez take up space as it develops because of the water molecules. This situation will, in turn, make the orbeez grow in a matter of time.
Please note that the water molecules that penetrate the polymer chain inside orbeez play an essential role in making the orbeez expand or grow. The ability of the orbeez to absorb water makes it grow in size.
What are Orbeez Made of
As mentioned earlier, orbeez are made of superabsorbent polymers, allowing water absorption and eventually making the orbeez grow. These superabsorbent polymers are composed of three major components, sodium hydroxide, acrylic acid and water.
There are also color pigmentation components being added to give orbeez different colors. But the best thing about orbeez and its components is that they are non-toxic. They are absolutely safe for the kids to play with.
Accidentally swallowing orbeez will not harm the child. After all, orbeez is made with non-toxic materials. However, it is still advisable to consult medical professionals if you find your kids accidentally swallowing the toy.
Practical Usage of Orbeez
With its safe chemical composition, orbeez can be used in so many things and is not limited to being a fun and educational toy for children. Orbeez can also be used in other practical usages, including therapeutic functions.
Orbeez can be used to make your body relax and eliminate stress after a challenging day. All you have to do is squeeze it all over your body to make you comfortable. The softness of the small balls will calm your body and relax once applied to the body.
Another practical way to use orbeez is to be flower support. You can actually submerge these tiny balls along with the flower. As they grow, it will help stabilize the flowers once it is put inside the vase. And the best thing about it is that you can actually play with the different colors of the orbeez to make it look good in combination with the flowers.
Commercially, orbeez has been used by so many golf courses to make their place stay green. Many golf courses use orbeez as a layer underneath the greens to make them look green and well-conditioned. Using orbeez also reduces the dependence on sprinklers in maintaining the golf course grass.
With its absorbing properties, orbeez was used for several agricultural purposes before being discovered to be an excellent toy. With all of these usages, it is no wonder orbeez is so popular with children and other people who find orbeez very useful in different applications.
Learning how do orbeez works will give you an idea of how useful this toy is to anyone. Apart from being a popular toy for fun and educational purposes, there are many ways this can be used in our house and even for commercial purposes. No wonder this toy is popular among children and other people who know its practical usage.