Weird Science: The Accidental Invention of Silly Putty

Weird Science: The Accidental Invention of Silly Putty

Chemical engineer James Gilbert E. Wright created silly putty in 1943 while he was working for the U.S War Production board. Moreover, Silly Putty is a toy which is based on silicone polymers which have unusual physical properties. It was invented accidentally in a lab during world war II. 

It is one of the top-selling toys for the kids but ooey-gooey material isn’t just for children. Here is everything you want to know about silly putty, read the article till the end.

1. Silly Putty Was Invented By Accident

During World war, Japan attacked rubber-producing countries for the production of rafts, tires, vehicle and aircraft parts, gas masks, and boots. Similarly, U.S. War Production Board, working to produce an inexpensive replacement for synthetic rubber at a General Electric lab in Connecticut.

When Er. James was working in a lab, he dropped boric acid (H3BO3) into silicone oil. Further, he noticed that the mixture of substance that was on the floor was stretchier and bouncier than rubber.

Silly putty has a very unique feature. If you flattened it into the newspaper or textbook it will pick a perfect copy of the print it touches. Further, the discovery of nutty putty was no better than ordinary synthetic rubber. So the government of the U.S doesn’t want it for production. However, businessman Peter Hodgson use nutty putty for general purpose and he later renamed it as “Silly Putty”.

From the 20th century, the putty has been a popular toy for kids. People came with an innovative idea for using it. On the Apollo 8 moon mission, astronauts even used the glue to protect their equipment in zero gravity.

2. Silly Putty In the Plastic Eggs

Peter Hodgson renamed the glue “Silly Putty” and traded throughout the world. Spring was coming, Hodgson required a promotional hook, plus what will sell putty better than a commercial holiday like Easter?

Plastic egg Silly Putty,
Plastic egg Silly Putty, Kids Discover

So Peter packed the silly putty in a plastic egg and sell it on his own. Children liked it very much and Hodgson did good business around the globe.

 3. Silly Putty Production Was Stopped During Korean War

During World War II, korea
With her brother on her back, a war-weary Korean girl tiredly trudges by a stalled M-26 tank, at Haengju, Korea, Bostonreview

There was a restriction on silicone throughout the Korean war. So Peter Hodgson had to halt the production of Silly Putty for a couple of years. Also, his business suffered but sales were boosted as soon as the War was over.

4. Silly Putty Is Now Owned By the Crayola Crayons Company

The Binney and Smith—the Easton, Penn based company produce silly Putty. Besides, the company manufacture eponymous Crayola crayon. Binney and Smith owned Putty after the death of Hodgson (a year later).

Women working in the Crayola Crayons Company
Women working in the Crayola Crayons Company, Pinterest

Reportedly, in today’s market, the company goes by  Crayola LLC. Both the product are built in the same factory.

5. Silly Putty is a Liquid-Solid

You can do anything to the substance Silly Putty. As it can bounce and you can throw it to the wall. Make it into the thousand pieces, stretched it to a limited extent. Hit with a hammer, do whatever you want it will be on the shape.

Explore more: End of The World: 7 Different Ways It Might Happen

6. Astronaut used it in Space

On the Apollo 8 moon mission, astronauts even used the Glue to protect their equipment in zero gravity. Astronauts took Silly Putty to the lunar orbit in a specially crafted sterling silver egg. Also, it has a wide range of use it has the property of glue, holds any objects even in zero gravity.

Even, many Athletes use it to tighten their grip and Raymond Barry, the football player was behind the popular practice.

7. Has a Fixed Price

Since the production of the product silly Putty, its price has neven changed. It was first sold with a price tag of $1 in 1950. Still, the price of the material comes at the same price. However, there is a difference in quantity. As our grandfather used to own 1-ounce lumps of Silly Putty eggs, now we get less than 0.5 ounces.

8. Formula

How can we make Silly Putty? Here some tips which help to stimulate the texture of Silly Putty. This process is not favorable for children below four years of age.

Necessary Materials

  • Cornstarch
  • Regular White glue
  • Medium Sized Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Water
A mixture of ingredient, spanish4kiddos
A mixture of ingredient, spanish4kiddos


  • Put the old paper on the surface to work
  • Mix 4 tbsp of cornstarch with 2 tbsp glue inside the bowl
  • Add a couple of drops of water to the mixture keep adding water until the pudding becomes similar as shown in the photo.
  • Add two to three drops of food coloring until the appropriate shade of color.
  • Mix the ingredient altogether with a tablespoon.
  • Place it on the non-stick aluminum foil

Also See: Waldorf Schools: Everything You Need To Know About It

About the author

Saugat G

I am an IT engineer & Guitarist but my passion for writing draws my attention.
Talking about my hobby, I am a travel freak, recently, I have been to Queen of Lake (Rara) for my vacation.