What happens if you leave Orbeez in water too long? Short and sweet answer is, it could break if you put the orbeez too long in the water.
Basically, Orbeez are these cute little beads made of a material called sodium polyacrylate – essentially a super absorbent polymer. What’s amazing is they can absorb and retain an insane amount of water – up to 300 times their original weight!
When you first take them out of the package, they look tiny, almost like mini NERF ball bullets. But as soon as you add water, the rapid expansion begins. Within a few hours, they swell up to the size of blueberries or large marbles.
My kids love watching the Orbeez grow before their eyes. Of course, then they want to play with them in the tub, buckets, bowls – you name it. The beads feel squishy and gelatinous when wet.
I have to admit, the science behind Orbeez is pretty cool. But what I didn’t initially realize was you can’t just leave them soaking indefinitely or problems will start to develop.
What Happens If You Leave Orbeez In Water Too Long?
Change the water daily and store dried beads properly when not in use. With reasonable precautions, Orbeez should last 1-2 years before degrading. Leaving them soaking constantly will accelerate breakdown. When removing Orbeez from water, they will slowly return to their original tiny bead size.
Here’s My Story of What Happens When You Leave Orbeez Soaking in Water for Way Too Long.
Getting Swept Up in an Orbeez Obsession
It started innocently enough. My sister and I begged our parents to buy us a big tub of Orbeez one summer. You know, basic sibling stuff. At first, we carefully followed the instructions, growing the Orbeez to full size in short soaking sessions. But soon we got impatient and just started leaving them sitting in bowls of water 24/7. I mean, more expanded Orbeez equaled more fun in our kid brains!
Experiencing the Downsides of Over-Expanded Orbeez
At first, having pounds and pounds of fully expanded Orbeez was amazing. We made huge Orbeez sculptures and dumped them on each other. Typical kid fun! But we soon realized our mistake. The Orbeez left sitting in water for days started deteriorating. Their surfaces got weirdly sticky and tacky. They also started fusing together into a big globby mass.
It was like a science experiment gone wrong. We had created our own ball pit from hell! My sister still brings up the time I dumped a bucket of fused together, gooey Orbeez on her head. Not my finest moment. But that’s what happens when you don’t follow the Orbeez soaking time limits.
The Smelly Aftermath of Orbeez Neglect
Here’s where things go from messy to nasty. Leaving Orbeez in water for too long makes them prone to mold growth. At first, it was just a faint musty smell coming from the Orbeez tub. But soon it was an eye-watering, gag-inducing stench permeating the whole house.
My poor mom was so upset. No matter how many times she changed the Orbeez water, they were determined to be stinky and rotten. We eventually just had to throw pounds and pounds of moldy Orbeez in the trash. What a sad ending for my beloved Orbeez. The smell also lingered for weeks even after the Orbeez were tossed. Leaving absorbent plastic balls in water = moldy times.
Related Article: Can You Leave Orbeez in Water Forever?
Key Lessons Learned About Orbeez Care
Looking back now as a (somewhat) responsible adult, I totally understand why leaving Orbeez in water indefinitely is a bad idea. Here are the key lessons I learned:
- Change the soak water daily – Don’t let Orbeez sit for more than a day before changing the water. Stagnant water breeds mold and bacteria.
- Don’t overfill containers – Allow Orbeez room to expand without fusing together. Overcrowding causes deterioration.
- Dry Orbeez thoroughly between uses – Remove expanded Orbeez from the water and let dry completely before storing. Drying prevents stickiness and mold growth.
- Follow package directions – Don’t try to speed up the expansion process. Rushing leads to problems!
- Store Orbeez properly – Keep unused Orbeez in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot. Improper storage causes them to fuse and decompose.
- Monitor for deterioration – Discard any Orbeez that show stickiness, mold growth, or foul smells. Don’t try to salvage bad Orbeez.
Problems That Develop When Orbeez Are Left In Water
The first issue I noticed after letting the Orbeez sit in water for a few days was a foul, almost rotten egg-like smell. I also noticed the water was getting cloudy and slimy. Well, come to find out this is likely due to bacterial growth.
You see, the warm, moist environment provided by the container of water creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to multiply rapidly. Given a few days, the bacteria can increase exponentially, producing unpleasant odors and making the Orbeez feel slick and slimy. No one wants stinky slime beads!
Along with the stench, I soon observed fuzzy mold starting to grow on the surface of the standing Orbeez water. Just like bacteria, mold spores thrive in the stagnant, humid environment. At first it was just a few specks, but within a week there were large swathes of mold colonizing the entirety of the water.
The mold formed in various colors too – white, black, green and grey. Definitely not something you want your kids exposed to! Mold can release spores that trigger allergic reactions, cause respiratory irritation, or even make you sick.
Degradation of Orbeez
The last problem I noticed over time was the Orbeez themselves starting to break down with prolonged water exposure. Originally smooth and round, the beads became oddly misshapen, flattened and discolored after sitting in water for 2 weeks.
They also started feeling quite sticky and gloopy. It seems the polymer material starts to degrade when left in water too long. The end result is Orbeez that are no longer usable for playtime fun. What a waste!
Recommended Time Limits for Orbeez in Water
Given the problems I encountered, it’s clear Orbeez shouldn’t be left soaking indefinitely. Though guidelines vary slightly, most recommendations are:
- Change the water every 1-2 days – this limits bacterial/mold growth.
- Use filtered or distilled water if possible.
- Don’t leave Orbeez in water longer than 2-3 days before changing.
- Discard any Orbeez that show signs of degradation.
The key is not allowing the beads to remain in stagnant water for too long. An occasional quick play session is fine. But you don’t want them soaking 24/7. A few basic precautions will allow you to enjoy Orbeez while avoiding issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I prevent Orbeez from fusing together when left in water?
You can prevent Orbeez from fusing together by changing the water daily, not overfilling containers, and allowing the Orbeez to dry completely between uses. Fusing occurs when Orbeez are left in stagnant water for too long. Make sure to provide enough space for the beads to move freely and absorb water without crowding.
Why do Orbeez get sticky and deteriorate if left in water too long?
The polymer material that Orbeez are made from can start to break down with prolonged water exposure. The long soak times cause the molecular structure of the beads to degrade, resulting in a tacky texture, misshaping, and discoloration. For optimal life span, limit soaking to 1-2 days and dry beads thoroughly before storing.
How can I get rid of the mold that grew on my Orbeez?
If you notice mold growth on the surface of the water or beads themselves, the Orbeez and water will need to be discarded. Mold spores can trigger allergic reactions and illness, so it’s not recommended to try and salvage contaminated Orbeez. To prevent mold growth, change the soak water daily and don’t allow stagnant conditions.