Making Better Magnetic / Ferrous Silly Putty, With Lube!




Introduction: Making Better Magnetic / Ferrous Silly Putty, With Lube!

About: Im a bit of a geek of all trades. Of late most of my free energy has going into Making sure our hacker/makerspace is awesome! Come check us out!

I know the title is a little bit provocative, but stay with me here.

I found the fantastic Instructable on "Magnetic Sillty Putty" And just had to give it a try, It took me a bit of work to find the right mix, due to the dollar store sized lumps of "color putty " being different sized. but eventually i was able to make a product just like the other Instructable noted. and it was fantastic.

Although it was a bit stiff/slow. I kept wondering if it was possible to thin the putty down somehow.

Indeed you can, and this Instructable will say how, and show a little bit of how it differs.

Skip to step3 if you already have magnetic silly putty, or already have seen the fine Instructible listed above!

Step 1: Materials,

Mostly the same as other Instructable.

  • fine ferric iron oxide powder (the pigment powder can be ordered online, or in some art shops)
  • Silly/color/thinking putty
  • gloves
  • some waxpaper or disposable surface to work on,
  • Silicone based personal lubricant.* This is a scent free, lubricant, that claims to be medical grade.

*The one I used has the following ingredients.
Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Tocopheryl Acetate(Vitamin E), Aloe. (Not sure if they are all needed, i suspect the desired effect is in one of the first two)

Step 2: Making the Putty,

Im not sure if its better to mix the lube in first and then mix in the iron oxide or not, Ive only made the putty then added the lube. Feel free to try it both ways to see if one way is better than the other.

I will outline the making of the puttty first.

Get your silly putty. mine was about 13g (0.46oz) per egg. so i mixed two (color does not matter! the black is so strong!)

Mixed in about 1/2 teaspoon of black pigment, and needed it in slowly using gloves! As for technique i have found being slow and careful mixing the powder and the putty and doing alot of pulling folding and doubling helps. you can pickup spilled powder with the putty.

once its uniformly black/dark brown, play with it a bit longer, before you remove the gloves. if its mixed well it wont stain your hands, if you get too much powder in it, just mix in some more fresh silly putty.

Step 3: About the "oil"

Here is where my Instructabile takes a different path.

Its pretty simple after googling everywhere to find out if there was a silly putty thinner, i decided to give a few things a try, glycerin, olive oil, alcohol, none did what i wanted, most would not mix well, or caused it to change properties.

According to a few sites, actual silly putty is made up primarily with ,

  • 65% dimethyl siloxane, hydroxy-terminated polymers with boric acid
  • 17% silica, quartz crystalline
  • 9% thixotrol ST
  • 4% polydimethylsiloxane
  • 1% decamethyl cyclopentasiloxane

So i thought about silicone products approved for skin contact, and started to think about lotions and lubes, sadly a lot of them don't give a very accurate ingredient list, and very few give percentages.

** Warning** Here's where I blush, and you say Too Much Information!! My local sexuality resource center was having a sale, I decided to use the time to go in , (its run by fantastic Duo!) and go read lots of labels on various lubes and the like. (if you don't have such a open and clean store to shop at try looking online.) sadly the labels didn't have a lot of info. So i googled a few of the companies, and found that atleast one had, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Tocopheryl Acetate(Vitamin E), Aloe. I thought, ah hah, Dimethicone that sounds familiar!

So i picked it up, as you can see in the photo and in the note i blacked out the brand name, its "_ _ _ Oil", and the _ _ _ is something old west cowboys use to carry!

Step 4: Lube It Up!

I split my putty into two blobs, left one alone.

I started by 2 squirts of the little pump on the oil. it immediately made the silly putty very slippery, and appeared to make some of it dissolve, but i kneaded it in anyway.. as i did it got less slippery and went back to feeling just like the old putty did, maybe a teeny bit more flexible but that could have been from warming it by mixing it with my hands.

So i added 2 more pumps same story, but when it was mixed it was surely a little thinner, could droop and flow faster.

left both chunks in different eggs on the same counter overnight,

the next morning i verified they had similar but different consistency, the lube and putty had not separated and it was still a litttle softer than the plain old putty.

That afternoon after work I went ahead and tried a few experiments to see if it would swallow a magnet any faster.

Took both lumps and made into rough cubes. the allowed each one to pull in a 2cm sphere neodymium magnet from the side.

You can see in the photos, they both swallowed the magnet, but the doctored/lubed putty did it faster! by at least 2 minutes!

I have played with the doctored and un-doctored putties for over a month now, and the lube stays incorporated and does not cause any problems. it also does not appear to dry out!

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I'm so glad to find this.

It seems the Internet is awash in "silly putty" that is really "slime" a substance with completely different characteristics and ingredients quite often.

Finally I figured out what I needed to do to soften up some silly putty I bought for the same reason you did, when on a search your article came up.

I'm glad to see you went to all the trouble for me!


As an aside, I figure the only thing that kept magnetic silly putty from becoming a fad is the price. It's prohibitive for something that is so small and requires someone to just enjoy the innate characteristics of the stuff.


7 years ago on Introduction

I read this with much amusement. 'Gun Oil'. LOL! Your instincts were correct but the source is questionable. First off, it is not pure silicone oil (polydimethylsiloxane), and second, it is probably expensive because of its 'underground' nature. :) You can get pure silicone oil on eBay for like $4-5 (including shipping) for 2 fl. oz. That's enough for a lot of putty. Search for "silicone shock oil." You can also get it at R/C hobby shops. I bought some on eBay and worked several cc of it into my homemade magnetic putty with dramatic results. It went from stiff and dry-feeling to soft, smooth, and supple. The 'magnet-swallowing' demonstration went from almost 3 minutes to just 32.5 seconds! No fast-forwarding necessary. ;-) I made a video, showing a side-by-side comparison.


7 years ago on Introduction

All those 'cones are types of silicone...I wonder if the types they use in make-up primers--like dimethicone--would work?


8 years ago on Introduction

Killbox, the mad genius! It never would have occurred to me to use lube, and I can't wait to try this.


check your weights on the putty... 13oz? looks to me like you're using the eggs that are about 1/2oz? certainly not 13.


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

oops, 13g (0.46oz). good catch. Thanks *edited now*


9 years ago on Introduction

Wow, nice work!!
If you have some of the original and the upgraded version a side-by-side video comparison would be awesome!


9 years ago on Introduction

Don't be embarrassed about the supplier. I find that when it comes to non-petroleum based/nylon safe lubricants the sexshop is the only place that sell high quality stuff.


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

yes, also if quickly jerked apart it shows its non-newtonian roots by breaking. although sometimes it just strings out!

feels a little more sticky, but i think thats just it getting down into the grooves of your fingers faster kinda like how geckos climb glass.

it still pulls off of the magnets and out of a container like normal putty , but if you hold up a blob between 2 fingers you can watch it stretch and drip.