How Do Water Beads Work?

example of orange water beadsPolymer crystals, otherwise known as water beads, are one of those special items that are almost magical. Polymer water beads gel in a way very similar to a gelatin dessert. One of their major uses is by the disposable diaper manufacturers, where they are referred to as super absorbent polymers. The polymers allow for thinner and lighter disposable diapers.  But that is not where their uses stop.  Water beads come in a beautiful array of colors and sizes.  They are great for distributing a controlled release of water to cut flowers, orchids or even outdoor gardens.

Add water to the white crystalline flakes or spheres of water beads and they absorb many times their size in the polymeric gel that forms. One pound of the water bead crystals holds about 50 gallons of water! The gel that forms swells by absorbing 30 grams of water for each gram of the water crystals. Florists also use water beads as a dirt-free way to store water and to keep cut flowers fresh for a long time.

Construction workers, bicyclists and motorcyclists may be seen wearing cloth headbands or wearing a cloth collar around their neck. The crystals are sewn into a pouch in the cloth. The cloth item is then soaked in water for several hours. A tiny handful will swell up to many times it size and provide moist evaporative cooling for the wearer.

It takes about 45 minutes to hydrate the typical headband or collar but the larger decorative water beads will take up to six hours.  time. The same polymer beads can be rehydrated many times.

Other uses of the crystals:

•water and sewerage treatment plants use it to trap and suspend solid particles to make the solids easier to remove
•soil conditioning
•ore processing
•paper and textile plants
•manufacturing of dyes, adhesives and permanent press fabrics

Perhaps though the colorful beads are best used in displays of beauty inside the home.  There are submersible light kits available to create a stunning evening display.  Order your water Beads Here!

flowers with crystal soil

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