Frying Polymer Water Balls Is Not Great Science

We’ve discussed before how a lot of YouTube experiments appear to be just blowing things up or grossly record people without their knowledge. More distressingly, the random meltings appear to be getting out of control, and we are not especially big fans of throwing materials of unknown origin into hot pans. Fancy chocolate is one thing, but what in the hell are “polymer water balls”?

Well, according to Consumer Reports, they’re frighteningly ubiquitous, dangerous products that have been implicated in the death of at least one child and are recalled or banned in many countries.

Two cases were recently reported among children in Pakistan, one of whom died as a result. Malaysia banned the sale of such products in August 2011 after hospital reports of seven children needing surgery after ingesting them. Italy has imposed a ban, and New Zealand says they should not be promoted as children’s toys or craft products.

It’s not clear whether or not these particular “Hydrogel beads” are the polymer water balls at issue in that particular recall, and plus, the principle issue surrounding them appears to be the (rather serious) choking hazard they represent, not some unknown chemical reaction.
Still, we’re not sure they belong in a pan.