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What Are Orbeez? These Popular Kids Toys Are Going Viral!

Orbeez is the trade name for gel beads that grow in size when exposed to water and they are currently one of the biggest toy phenomena. But why are these seemingly boring beads going viral?

Why are kids infatuated with them so much? Orbeez is far more than just a simple toy and has multiple uses around your home to make it brighter and more colorful.

While Orbeez can be reused a few times they do have a relatively short lifespan and sooner or later you will need to dispose of them.

This is where concerns are raised about the environmental impact, are they biodegradable and are they toxic. We have answered these questions along with showing you some fun ways to use Orbeez around your home and with children.

What Is Orbeez?

The scientific explanation behind Orbeez is that they are super absorbent polymer beads made of acrylic acid, sodium hydroxide, and water. Then color pigmentation is added to give them a bit more fun. It is the water molecules that make them grow. 

Generally, Orbeez is a product of small pellets that grow to almost 150 times their original size when placed in water.

The magic really happens when they are placed in warm or hot water without anything else. The purer the water the bigger the beads will grow.

And the best thing about these is that they are completely safe to play with. They are non-toxic and even if they are swallowed they will pass right through the digestive tract.

If your child swallows one then no need to panic but if they do happen to swallow several it will be worth getting them checked out by a doctor immediately to avoid any complications.

Playing with water bead - orbees

Where Did Orbeez Come From?

Although they are an incredibly popular children’s toy this was not their original intent. The popular water beads were originally invented for agricultural use to help the soil to maintain moisture.

When mixed with soil they maintain the moisture level much longer and so you don’t need to water your plants as often. They can be used for growing fruit and vegetables as the color pigmentation is not released into the soil at any point. 

In their dry state, they can also be used in sanitary wear and disposable diapers as an absorbent filler. This super absorbent polymer has various uses both around the house and in the garden.

Is Orbeez Biodegradable?

The original usage of these water beads was for them to be mixed with soil to grow plants, so it is understandable that people are curious if they are biodegradable.

The truth is that water beads and Orbeez, in particular, are fully biodegradable. This is one of the main reasons why they are so successfully used in agriculture and flower shops.

It should also be noted that Orbeez is non-toxic and are absolutely safe for both pets and children.

Although they are safe for both pets and children, they should be used with caution when it comes to children and they are not recommended for children under 3 years of age due to posing a potential choking hazard.

According to the manufacturers of Orbeez, they are suitable for children of five years or older. Even then it is a really good idea to only allow them to play with Orbeez while being supervised at least when first introduced to the toy.

As you can see Orbeez does look a little like colorful candy and there is the temptation for children to try them.

If one Orbeez bead is swallowed, it will pass through the digestive tract but if more than that is swallowed, it is advised to seek immediate medical attention.

What Happens If An Orbeez Bead Breaks?

So here is the strange thing about Orbeez, because they grow as a result of absorbing water many people often believe that if they are broken there will be a gush of water. But the reality is very different.

While it is true that they grow as a result of absorbing water there is a chemical process that makes the polymer they are made of grow its polymer chains absorbing the water into them.

So, when you break an Orbeez bead there will be no gush of water as the bead is not a shell full of water but a consistent gel-like substance.

The beads are quite difficult to crush so there is no need to worry about the children popping them all over the place. When Orbeez is broken what comes out looks like small gel-like crystals that have the same texture as the original Orbeez bead.

Children playing orbeez. Orbeez balls - sensory water beads

How To Shrink Orbeez?

The children have played with hundreds of Orbeez all day long but now you no longer need them, so now you are wondering if you can shrink them back to their original size.

The short answer is yes you can. Orbeez are reusable meaning that they can be expanded and shrunk several times.

The quickest way to shrink Orbeez is to leave them in the sun. In the heat of the sun, they will release the water and shrink back to their original size.

The best way to help this process is to ensure that they are in thin layers and f possible to spread them out on a towel so that it will absorb the water as they release it.

If this is not an option, you can place them in a bowl but you would need to ensure that there were holes in it for the water to run out. This will allow the beads to dry out completely.

If you really want to speed up the process you can always add some salt as this will make the Orbeez release water quicker. But they’d still ideally need to be either on a flat surface or in a container with holes so that the excess water can run out.

How Long Can I Use Orbeez For?

This very much depends on how or what they are being used for. If used in light-up designs, grown Orbeez can last several months provided that they are not exposed to air.

If they are used for decoration they can potentially last for approximately 1 or 2 years due to their exposure to light. When mixed with soil, this is when they have the longest lifespan of between 7 to 9 years.

Although Orbeez is reusable they do not have an endless lifespan. Once you have shrunk them, they can be placed in water again at a later stage and they will grow again, this process can be repeated around 2-3 times generally speaking.

However, if you do detect any unpleasant smell or mold, the Orbeez will need to be disposed of immediately.

How To Dispose Of Orbeez?

One of the quickest and best ways to dispose of Orbeez is to mix them in with your soil in flower beds or potted plants.

If you dispose of them like this, they will continue to serve their initial function until completely absorbed by nature in several years’ time.

But do remember that if you opt for this disposal method you do not need to water your plants as often as you did prior to placing the Orbeez in the soil.

If using them in your soil is not an option, you could always just throw them in the trash.

It is best to place them in a separate bag or other containers before placing them in the trash as they’re slippery little things. If they spill out of the trash, they could potentially cause accidents.

Decoration water balls hydrogel, orbeez

One thing to note is that you should never pour or flush Orbeez down the drain. As a result of their nature is to grow in size when introduced to water, there is the likelihood that they will expand and blog your drains.

This is something that you need to make clear to your children too otherwise you could end up with a large bill from a plumber!

Ways To Use Orbeez

We already know that Orbeez has multiply uses both in agriculture, home gardening, and as a super cool sensory toy. But what other ways can they be used around your home or entertain the children?

Here are a few ideas for you to try out.

1. Orbeez guns for the kids

Orbeez can replace the standard nerf guns that kids love. Unlike the normal nerf guns that shoot nef bullets that then have to be collected, an Orbeez gun is filled with water-based beads.

These beads will dissolve into your backyard so there is no need for the frantic collection of them to ensure the safety of pets and children.

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2. Flower Holder

These colorful balls are ideal for stabilizing flowers. Simply fill your Orbeez with water and place them in a vase with your favorite flowers.

If you are feeling artistic, you can play around with the colors to match your decor.

You can also plant them with your favorite plants as they have the ability to preserve the moisture in the soil and plants love them because they can draw the water as and when they need it.

3. Air Freshener

This is a great idea! Choose a super cool jar, add your favorite color Orbeez or mix the colors if you prefer. Then add your favorite essential oil to the water before soaking your Orbeez in it.

Place your newly made air freshener anywhere in your home.

4. Therapeutic Use

These are great sensory toys and feel really fantastic against your skin. They can help to soothe the body and help you to relax. They can also be gently squeezed like a stress ball or in a pool or bathtub.


5. Orbeez and Shaving Cream

Another great sensory activity for children and adults alike is to add Orbeez to shaving cream. The shaving cream is silky smooth against your skin and then the added textures of the squidgy slippery balls make a great sensory play setting.

6. Orbeez Water Balloons

This will grab your children’s attention I promise. Just place Orbeez in a balloon add some water and watch them expand and grow. Increasing the size of the balloon as they go. Kids will think it is magic!

7. LED Light Jar

This is another cool decorating idea and children will love these in their bedroom instead of the traditional night light. To create a LED light jar filled with Orbeez Follow the tutorial below, your children will be amazed and delighted.


8. Art In The House

If you are feeling really creative then you can use Orbeez to create images inside jars in a similar way to sand art. They have such a range of colors in every pack that they can be used to create letters, words, and images.


What is the purpose of Orbeez?

Orbeez is super absorbent polymers that grow to 100 times their original size when submerged in water. They absorb liquids and a  version of Orbeez is used in baby’s diapers to keep them dry.

How do you get rid of Orbeez?

Orbeez should be disposed of in the trash. Or you can work them into your garden soil – they absorb water and release moisture when it is hot, so they can be used to ensure plants are kept moist.

Is Orbeez dangerous?

Orbeez has been shown to not pose any potential harm to children even if swallowed.

They will pass through the digestive tract and are expelled naturally without causing harm. They are non-toxic and do not bind together and do not break down in the digestive process.

The Final Thought

Orbeez is a great sensory toy both for kids and adults alike.

They have multiply uses and once you have finished playing with them they can easily be dried out and reused at another time or disposed of in the soil of your potted plants or flower beds.

They’re non-toxic and 100% biodegradable so are safe for the environment too. They are available in a vast range of colors and offer some great open-ended play opportunities for children – just remember to supervise them at all times.