Water gel powder, also known as slush powder or instant solid powder, is the superabsorbent material found in baby diapers that absorbs 400 times or more its own weight in water! It's great for science projects about absorbency and water retention – or for a fun science "magic" demonstration as it turns water into an instant solid.
You get a 4 oz. package (112g) of water gel powder, which is enough to make about 3 quarts of solid gel or 3 gallons of slush gel. Comes in a plastic bag.
How it works: A little water gel powder converts liquid water to a high molecular weight gel ranging in consistency from a solid to slush, depending on the ratio of water to powder. For example, at a 100:1 ratio of water to gel powder, you get a solid. Just put 1 teaspoon (about 2.4g) of this powder in a container and add 1 cup of water and the water turns into a solid almost instantly. You can even turn the container upside down and nothing comes out! Stir in a little table salt and the solid becomes liquid again as the polymer chains are broken.
At higher ratios of water to powder, 200:1, 300:1 and 400:1, it forms a gel that gets slushier as more water is added. The particles in water gel powder are in the 100-800 micron range, which allows them to very quickly absorb water.
The superabsorbent polymer in water gel crystals has many uses. A few examples include a seed-coating that accelerates germination, making water-retentive pavement that stays cooler; drying out water-logged library books; removing water in fuel tanks of military vehicles; as an electrical conductor in batteries, and in manufacturing ice packs.
Water gel powder is made of sodium polyacrylate. It is non-toxic but should be handled carefully as with all chemicals. Use water gel powder carefully once mixed with water, as it can be extremely slippery.
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