What Happens When You Pour Molten Aluminum into Water Polymer Beads?


We’ve covered the Backyard Scientist’s “don’t try this at home” projects in the past. I almost have to watch these videos peering through the fingers of my hands. Pouring molten aluminum into a glass fish tank of water-filled beads in shorts, canvas shoes, and a short-sleeve T-shirt (when you’re unsure what the reaction might be)? What could possibly go wrong?

But lax safety protocols aside, the results here are quite spectacular. He filled the tank with thousands of super-absorbent water polymer beads. He also added some acrylic sheeting and wire mesh to the insides of the tank to prevent a possible crack/blow out.


With the first pour, a GoPro camera is almost a causality as the poured, rapidly-descending metal nearly penetrates to the bottom of the tank. But, miraculously, it cools and hardens inches away from the camera.


By the end of the day, he manages 8 pours and ends up with 8 very cool and unique-looking aluminum sculptures. The results are so interesting, I bet other people are going to be tempted to try this. If you are, please know your materials and processes (and don’t attempt this if you don’t) and wear proper clothing, use a face mask, etc.



Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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