Everyone knows snails and slugs are a little slimy, but did you ever wonder why? Gastropods—snails and slugs—generate a type of mucus (or mucopolysaccharide) just like some plants, animals, and humans do. While we can’t make mucopolysaccharide with ease, we can make something similar by combining cornstarch and water to make a polysaccharide that is very similar.
What You’ll Need
- Pour 2 cups of cornstarch into your mixing bowl.
- Add 1 cup of water. (If you want more or less slime than 2 cups worth, just mix the cornstarch and water to a 2:1 ratio.)
- Mix until combined.
- Add food coloring if desired.
The trick to creating true snail slime is the consistency, or the way in which a liquid holds itself together. While it’s not actual snail mucus, our snail slime has similar properties and can help us understand more how snails and slugs move—by sliding along their mucus, they press down on it gently. What happens when you press down on your snail slime?
This type of polysaccharide acts like both a liquid and a solid—you can pour it like water or let it ooze out of your hands, but pushing it creates a solid reaction instead. This consistency of a liquid can be measured. In science, this is called viscosity; the state of being thick, sticky, or semifluid due to internal friction. This is why snails and slugs can climb virtually anywhere on their mucus—even upside-down!
If your snail slime is too runny, try adding more cornstarch. If you grab it and it stays in a ball without oozing out of your hands, add more water.