Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Experiment: Growing And Shrinking Water Beads

Water Beads are truly Amazing!  We've played with them and used them for sensory experiences,  but this time we really observed up close the most amazing part of water beads: how they start so small and grow so big in just 4 hours! Here is our documentation:

Observing Growing Water Beads:

Starting out very tiny.

Then growing right before our very eyes.....within minutes.

Look at how lumpy they look as they are  growing or (absorbing water). 

More growth.

Here you can see the so tiny to full size water beads! 

On average they grow to about the size of marbles as you can see,

Now Observing Shrinking Water Beads:

We placed the water beads on some layers of paper towels here so they could begin shrinking faster. They shrink much faster when  you have them separated too.  If you keep them in a bin together the shrinking process is much slower.  Also, you might notice the "real marble" placed in the lower right corner.  We used that as a comparison to see how much they were shrinking.

Some of the water beads we isolated along with a "real marble" to see how much faster they would shrink with less moisture from other water beads around.

One surprise we found along the way was a "tear drop shaped" water bead!!!! How cool is that????

We observed shrinking each day. This is after 2 days or so.

Here is showing comparison with a marble up close.

2 more days go by.

A little more shrinking 2 days later.  It may depend on the temperature outside or in your house of how fast they shrink too.

A noticeable difference with 2 more days.  Some of the water beads were back to their original size. The water beads isolated in separate containers shrank much faster.

A lot of readers will ask, "Do water beads shrink back to their original size?" As you can see,  they do.
Much slower if they are stored together in a bag or container.

We enjoyed this week long experiment. Hope you have tried water beads and just maybe this post may spark your interest.  Check out our other post on Water Beads:  Water Bead Fun!

***Note: Water Beads Should Not Be Ingested!***

Have You Gotten On The Water Bead Bandwagon? 
Please Share Your Ideas!

Where you can buy Water beads: WalMart, JoAnn Fabrics, and Amazon.com:


  1. Awesome experimenting! I must try water beads, I've only ever seen them online.

  2. We love experimenting with water beads! When we shrunk them they were back to their original size within less than 12 hours... (http://fitkidsclub.blogspot.com/2012/03/clubhouse-science-dehydration.html ,if you want to take a peek). Probably because we left them out in the Arizona sunshine for our experiment, and that Sun is HOT! I often share water bead posts, as we use water beads all the time and I like to share how others are using them too. I will add this to my ever growing list. Thanks for sharing :)

    1. That is awesome that you are always experimenting with water beads. Thanks for sharing and for adding my post to your list.

  3. They were such cool photos!! Loved them. We really need to get our water beads out again and do some more playing and experimenting with them. Ours never ended up shrinking back to size as Madeline decided to pulverise each and every one into mush haha

    1. Thanks Debs. That is too funny that Madeline pulverized your water beads! Glad to inspire you to play with water beads again. They are so fun!

  4. Here's a post about our first time exploring water beads: http://sibleyweb.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/water-beans/

    And we also like to play with them on top of our light panel! http://sibleyweb.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/let-there-be-light/

    Thanks for sharing your experiment! I like the idea of keeping the marble out for size comparisons. We'll have to try that next time.

    1. These are great posts Laurie. Glad you have had fun with water beads. Thanks for sharing.

  5. (... Sorry--thought those would automatically turn into links!)

  6. I bought some Water Beads (called something different) in red and pink and we put them out for Valentine's Day. The kids watched them all day and we were all excited. They put their little hands in to play after watching and waiting and everyone's hands turned BRIGHT RED!!! So do the water beads everyone else uses turn the kid's hands colors? Parents were a bit freaked out when they picked up because of this and when they spilled on the floor it stained the floor.

    I'm guessing that not all water beads do this - just the ones I got:)

    1. Yuck Allison Sorry to hear about that. We've never had problems with water beads staining hands. I did notice the ones from WalMart faded in color. I've had great luck with Water Beads from JoAnn Fabrics.

    2. hi allison, waterbeads.net has the best! theirs are non toxic, odorless and colorfast! the owners are super friendly, have lots of ideas and ship quickly too! our puppy has eaten quite a few beads from this company and she's fine! they also have the cats eyes beads and glow in the dark beads. good luck!