Introduction: How To: Make Non-Newtonian Fluid (& Experiment With It!)

Picture of How To: Make Non-Newtonian Fluid (& Experiment With It!)

This instructable will show you how to make a simple non-Newtonian fluid out of corn starch and water.

Our matter will turn into a solid when pressure is exerted on it, and will turn into a liquid when little or no pressure is exerted on it.

"It's not that this fluid doesn't have a well defined viscosity (because we can mathematically define the fluid viscosity) -- it's that this fluid's viscosity is defined as a function of the rate of shear - that is, the fluid acts more viscous as you increase shear - a dilatant fluid"

Materials needed for this experiment:
~Corn Starch (About as much water as you are using)
~Stirring rod (or anything to stir with)

Step 1: Mix It!

Picture of Mix It!

Put water in a big bowl/container you adding corn starch until the water becomes extremely tough to stir. It has also been described as a syrupy texture, but you should be able to feel a difference. If you are not sure, you can test it by applying pressure with the poke of your finger or a spoon. You will feel and initial resistance by the fluid and then it will slowly release.

Step 2: The Fluid Itself

Picture of The Fluid Itself

You will notice if you leave the fluid unattended for a spell, it will separate into two parts and solid will be on the bottom of the container. Simply mix it up once again to regain the non-Newtonian fluid texture.

As you poke and prod at the mixture, you can see and feel (if you use your hands) the mixture turning solid into liquid or vice versa. Get hands on! The texture is great to feel and will keep you occupied for hours on end!

After messing around for a bit, add more corn starch. This results in a more solidified liquid and you can better feel the reactions.

Watch the attached video for a moving preview of the non-Newtonian fluid!

Step 3: Experimenting: Heat

Picture of Experimenting: Heat

The first additional experiment that was tested was by microwaving part of the fluid. I put it in the microwave for roughly 45 seconds on half power (5, in my case). This resulted in what looked like an egg-shaped object, with a yellow center and a white outer ring.

Watch the attached video for the microwaving and examination of this.

Step 4: Experimenting: Ice (Version 1)

Picture of Experimenting: Ice (Version 1)

In this experiment, I put a cup of the non-Newtonian fluid into a freezer to see the effects. After leaving it in there, it was examined later. It had some cool line patterns on the surface like it was exerting tension or something of the like.

Step 5: Experimenting: Ice (Version 2)

Picture of Experimenting: Ice (Version 2)

In this experiment, a cup of non-Newtonian fluid was put in an ice bath to see the effects it would have on the solution.

The solution because more solidified and would crack and break apart instead of turning back into a liquid. Kind of obvious, but fun nonetheless.

So, now it's time for you to start experimenting! Post any other experiments you do here.

Step 6: Your Experiments

ThatHippyMan writes::
"After playing with my mixture a while, I started adding alot more water then immediatly microwaving it. Its almost like ballistics jel now."

Magnelectrostatic writes:
"blow bubles in it with a straw! they aren't normal"

odiekokee recounts an experience with the substance:
"This stuff started me down a VERY interesting road of research in my youth (yes, I was a VERY wierd kid)

Shear thickening fluid (ooblec, whatever, same mixture as above). I played with it for days.....Among the bright ideas I had, was to jam my finger down into a bowlful of it as hard as i could manage....and it set up like concrete. Next, same thing, with a sharp pencil.....and again, just like I'd hit gooey granite. *DING* light bulb, and to the closet I went. Out comes a rifle. .22 rim-fire first. Filled one of my mothers 5� square "sandwich keeper" type Tupperware bowls with the stuff, lid on tight, and set it up on its side, lid facing me....BLAM....but it didn't blow the lid off with a big splash like every other liquid target I'd tested. in fact, it appeared that the bullet went less than a half inch in. Repeated with .223 (MUCH faster moving projectile) and a little thicker box of �stuff�......same thing....stopped like it'd hit a solid object.

Now....the military has developed several similar technologies. How Stuff Works: Liquid Body Armor shows some of that developing technology. I'm sure it's been in the works for a while, but 15 years ago, I like to think I quietly started on that kind of thing (but who listens to a 13 year old)
*DISCLAIMER* Don't do ballistics tests unless you’re very well trained with the equipment needed and VERY careful in the setup of your tests. (Safety first, last, always, and through a very long life)"

Farbs weighs in with his own experiment:
"try zapping it as a liquid. I will when I make it, and ill post what happened, but if someone gets there first, reply to this comment."


MrCoolPotato. (author)2016-03-29

Can i Use Potato starch?

Cabla (author)2016-03-16

Just to inform you, your "Heat Experiment" (Microwave Experiment) should've been classified as the later not the former. A microwave works by expanding the water in (usually) food inside the microwave. This is what heats up the food. If you want to do a Heat Experiment, it'd probably be better to get a disposable pan and heat it up on a stove top rather than microwaving it.

23mcharlotte (author)2008-01-10

what use dose this have?

technick29 (author)23mcharlotte2008-01-11

Any use that you can think of.

dudemonkeys (author)technick292008-02-21

If this stuff can harden enough to stop a bullet, this could be used in bulletproofing.

nintendo309 (author)dudemonkeys2008-03-04

That is one of the ideas, because it is easy to manuvure, but can become hard.

dudemonkeys (author)nintendo3092008-03-11

They've actually found that this property is shown in a suspension of silicon beads (nanosized) in (poly)ethylene glycol. Kevlar soaked in this is more resistant to bullets and 4 layers of soaked kevlar performs as well as 14 layers of normal kevlar.

nintendo309 (author)dudemonkeys2008-08-13

So 14 layers of kevlar would be... *does math* 49 layers of KEVLAR! Jeeze. That would probably stop a bullet.

Mythbusters tried it, didn't work :(

railroad9 (author)shammallamaman2010-12-20

Fortunately for law-enforcement (and unfortunately for Adam and Jaimie), a single data-point doesn't really prove anything. There's already a good bit of testing and exploring of non-Newtonian fluids for armor, so yeah, it's on its way!

Yes, Mythbusters will invariably modify or leave something out while stating that it makes no difference but it always does..... science is an exact science and those guys are on TV taking time/cost saving shortcuts that basically defeat any science that might have had a chance.

technick29 (author)dudemonkeys2008-03-11


Put it in a squirt gun!
Throw it at people!
Put it in a potato and shoot it out of a potato gun!

JamesT22 (author)2015-05-20

i r8 8/8 m8 pls no ha8 thanks m8

4571083793 (author)2015-03-31

this is cool

simplebotics (author)2014-03-11

Awesome! I'm putting this inside backs and between cardboard layers for armor. Airsoft and paintball proof!

Rebelsoulwithhatred (author)2013-03-16

I've made this stuff before. I threw it at my friend and gave him a black eye. He still is mad at me.

torie_brook (author)2011-10-27

if you put the stuff on a speaker, covered by plastic wrap, and turn up the bass it jumps with the music.

WPee (author)2010-04-18

Consider making a Non-Newtonian Fluid "Cloud" over parts of earth to BULLET STOP incoming meteors (and aliens) as they speed toward us.

Kinda of a KLINGON anti-matter force field....SHIELDS UP !!!


CmdShepard85 (author)WPee2011-05-07

ROFL that would be great!...if it were possible

BERGERMAN47 (author)2010-06-27

hi i zapped some in the microwave and it went hard kinda turned into a substance a lot like plain corn flour.

BERGERMAN47 (author)BERGERMAN472010-06-27

i forgot to mention this was straight after it had been in the fridge for a few hours

BERGERMAN47 (author)BERGERMAN472010-06-27

sorry for triple post everyone but i just found that adding more water, quite a bit actually, turns it back to normal.

nanoz300 (author)2010-06-10


Lone (author)2009-08-23

Thanks a lot guys!!!! MY project went smoothly with the help of u guys.

hock3ydud3 (author)2008-04-18

didnt the myth busters do something like this, only like a life size scale? or maybe that was quick sand, but i think they did something like this too

no, they haven't, i have seen all of the episodes

mg0930mg (author)shammallamaman2009-03-05

Obviously not, they've done this, and quick-sand experiment...

shammallamaman (author)mg0930mg2009-03-06

yeah, i saw that episode like a couple days after i posted this, excuse my ignorance

wolf555hound (author)hock3ydud32008-11-27

yea, they have, he was trying to walk on water, then they did thi sagian trying to stop a bullet, but he put it in little baggies, so it didnt work.

technick29 (author)hock3ydud32008-04-19

I'm not sure... probably though, Mythbusters does a lot of cool stuff!

philipburtburt (author)2008-06-17

I made it and if you you cover it with sand it looks like all sand untill you tell your eney to put there finger in it!lol

farbs (author)2008-04-26

by the way, in the experimenting: ice, im pretty sure the lines are just from the nnf not freezing like a lower viscosity liquid would. liquids freeze from the surface they are contained in to the center of them, because solids cool faster than liquids. solids shrink when cooled to an extreme degree, while liquids expand. (note: gases can be frozen at temperatures close to absolute zero, theoretically) so your nnf could do something in between and leave air under cracks in the surface of it. try putting the nnf in a measuring cup and measure the difference before and after.

farbs (author)2008-03-18

try zapping it as a liquid. I will when I make it, and ill post what happened, but if someone gets there first, reply to this comment.

technick29 (author)farbs2008-04-19

PS: Can I add this to the "Your Experiments" step?

farbs (author)technick292008-04-20

sure! go ahead.
im still having trouble getting corn starch, only because i havent had time to go to foodtown. =]

technick29 (author)farbs2008-04-20

Alright, thanks!

technick29 (author)farbs2008-03-19

Good idea man. I'll let you know if I get around to it.

farbs (author)2008-03-18

and you could try to vibrate it, not violently, but put something in it that vibrates and turn it on.

kalboon (author)2008-02-06

does anyone know what would happen if the water was very hot when adding the corn starch? would I just end up cooking it lol? I was only wondering if by heating the water it would cause the separation of the corn starch and water to be less of a problem for long term storage ..... also I know that dupont makes this out of silicon crystals (like sand blaster sand or quartz) and poly ethelyn glycol .... does anyone know the correct ratio to mix together using those items? thnx

chuck norris (author)2007-04-12

Is corn starch the only thing that will do this to water? If not, than what other thing might work? Also is it possible for the final product to be as clear as water? (might make a good prank to pull. ex: fill someone's pool with it and watch what happens when they jump in!) By the way, that is a pretty good and simple instructable. Good job.

This stuff would be great in a "water" bed! When your lying there all nice cozy it would be fluid, then when you go to get out of bed it would harden up enough to allow you to get up and out easily! Sounds fun.

Wow, that's a great idea. I might have to try that...

It wouldn't be funny when they sank, because the moment they started to swim they would get stuck.....if someone tried to pull them out too fast they would get stuck, and because they would be panicking they would never get loose and would die. This could be a neat way to torture terrorists though.....submerge them up to their necks watch them struggle to get out! LOL hahahahahahahaha. That would be fun!

technick29 (author)chuck norris2007-06-27

Thanks Chuck. As of now, I'm not sure if there's any way of making it clear, though that would be an amazing prank! I'll let you know if I find a solution.

Deightine (author)technick292007-07-26

I think perhaps you might be able to do it with Arrow Root... But I'm not sure if the starch level would be high enough. But arrowroot is commonly available as a substitute for corn starch in cooking, and I've used it for many glazes on desserts in the past and it does achieve a similar gel state... For more info on the plant: Wikipedia:Arrowroot

Hope that helps someone. :)

trebuchet03 (author)2007-04-04

A non-Newtonian fluid is a fluid that doesn't have a well-defined viscosity.

It's not that this fluid doesn't have a well defined viscosity (because we can mathematically define the fluid viscosity) -- it's that this fluid's viscosity is defined as a function of the rate of shear - that is, the fluid acts more viscous as you increase shear - a dilatant fluid :D

On the opposite end of the spectrum is thixotropic fluids -- leave them alone, they get thick... play with them, they become thin :D Things like blood (high blood pressure = thin blood) and special resins :D

Search for oobleck - there's at least two other instructables on how to make this cool stuff :D

maker12 (author)trebuchet032007-12-23

recipe for blood 1 cup of corn stoch 1 tbs, of lectin 2cups of olil 3 cups of water note this is not red this is to make working blood !

you lost me after the second paragraph

Thixotropic - it means that when you apply pressure to a substance with that property, it becomes thinner (less viscous). Ketchup is another example which is why it can be stubborn at first when coming out of a glass bottle.

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