How to Make Your Own Styrofoam Formula

••• Jupiterimages/ Images

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the chemical formula of Styrofoam is C8H8. Styrofoam, the brand name of a type of polystyrene, contains equal parts carbon (C) and hydrogen (H). The manufacture of true polystyrene requires hazardous chemicals and equipment that should be used only in a supervised chemical lab. An imitation formula uses more readily available ingredients and can be made at home.

    Dissolve 2 tsp. borax in 1/2 cup (4 oz.) water. Set aside.

    In a separate bowl, mix 1/4 cup (2 oz.) Elmer’s Glue and 1/4 cup (2 oz.) water.

    Pour Elmer's glue solution into air-tight, gallon-size bag.

    Add 3 tbsp. of the borax/water solution to the Elmer's glue solution but do not mix.

    Add the micro-beads and bean bag filler. Seal bag and knead until thoroughly mixed.

    Let stand for 15 minutes then knead for a few more minutes. It should feel somewhat firm but still malleable.

    Remove mixture from the bag and work it into desired shape. Let it dry for three to four hours.


    • Borax can be found in the laundry aisle at your grocery store. Micro-beads may be found at a craft store. Bean bag filler can be bought on eBay. 5/3 cups of polystyrene beads can be used in place of the micro-beads and bean bag filler. You can make an approximation of the beads by grating polystyrene cups.


    • Ingredients could cause harm if swallowed.


About the Author

Tammy Bradshaw has written educational science curriculum and child development-related articles that have appeared in Pittsburgh's "Tribune Review." She is a former Early Intervention business owner, nominee for Teacher of the Year in Wisconsin and an avid traveler. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and teaching certification from the University of Wisconsin.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!