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!

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

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

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)

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)

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."



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      98 Discussions


      3 years ago

      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.


      Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

      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.


      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

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


      Reply 8 years ago on Step 5

      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!


      Reply 3 years ago

      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.


      5 years ago

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

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


      7 years ago on Introduction

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


      9 years ago on Step 5

      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 !!!


      1 reply