Thursday, June 19, 2008


Grandma and Grandpa gave our daughter a lamb in her Easter basket. Not a soft cuddly one, a science project one. It involved taking cardboard pieces and fixing them together. A plastic head was placed on top of the cardboard "body." The lamb then stood on a stand in a little petri dish type thing. Then, the "magic solution" was added to the dish. Afterwards, the sheep grew "wool." Our daughter enjoyed watching it change and found it rather fascinating. We kept it up and out of her reach where it could be observed but not disturbed.

No matter how hard we tried, the lamb would get bumped and the "wool" would fall off in tiny flakes. It looked like the sheep was snowing. I was already curious about what the "magic solution" was but with it snowing in our house, I decided to investigate. The package said that it was "non-toxic" but that was all. There was nothing that identified the ingredients of the solution. I found an online company that sold them and emailed them my question.

Here is the response that I got...

Thank you for your e-mail.

I have had a close look at the instructions, and the ingredient is potassium phosphate. Now I did a degree in chemistry, but that was quite a few years ago! However this is not going to be something that is poisonous. Wikipedia has a piece about the three versions of potassium phosphate - - all of which seem to be used as food additives, among other things!

The instructions say that it should be used by children over 10 years, and that there should be adult supervision, which is probably sensible. There are the usual warnings – wash your hands afterwards, etc. The product has been sold in the UK for many years, although it is I believe made in Germany.

Basically, I would be happy for a 10 year old of mine to do this, with a little bit of supervision. To be really cautious, I would probably suggest that you do not allow the child to place it by their bed, in case they start eating it in their sleep, although I doubt that would do them any harm.

I hope this helps

Hendrik Ball

I really didn't think that I would get a reply and his made me smile. Gotta love a company with good customer service. So, I learned about Potassium Phosphate, fake sheep and an interesting website. I found that they have a section with optical illusions. Some of them are really tripped out and very fun to look at. It's weird when your eyes and your mind see two different things.

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