Magic Mud

Magic glowing mass is obtained from an ordinary potato!

Scientific name: Mixture of starch and tonic water behaves as a non-Newtonian fluid. Presence of a fluorescent substance called guinine makes it glow.


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Wear eye protection goggles.

Always follow general safety recommendations. Please note that conducting chemistry experiments you must comply with the relevant legal procedures in your country.


  1. Starch
  2. Tonic water

Step-by-step instruction

  1. Take a big bag of potatoes
  2. Clean and peal the vegetables.
  3. Chop up the potatoes to pieces as small as possible.
  4. Put them into a large bowl.
  5. Fill the bowl with water. Pour enough to cover the potatoes.
  6. Stir it for a few minutes. The water becomes colored.
  7. Filter out the potatoes. Pour the water in a separate vessel.
  8. Leave the solution to settle until a white layer would appears at the vessel bottom.
  9. Pour the water out.
  10. If the precipitate is not clean enough wash it out with fresh water and let the precipitate sit again.
  11. Pour out the water with foreign substances.
  12. The obtained mass acts like a liquid when it is poured but possesses the properties of a solid when some pressure is applied to it.
  13. Leave it out for a day or two to dry. The resulting white powder is starch. So you can skip the previous steps if you will take purchased starch.
  14. In order to make this substance glow we need to add some tonic water. The tonic water must contain guinine. Put a few spoonfuls of starch in a bowl and mix it with a small amount of tonic water. The magic mud is ready! The obtained mass behaves as it was described above but now it is also fluorescent! If we turn on some black lights you will see that the magic mud is glowing with a bright blue light.

Scientific background

The magic mud is made from starch and a fluoresent liquid. Potatoes contain a lot of starch which could be isolated from it. The mixture of starch with small amount of liquid exhibits properties of a non-Newtonian fluid. A non-Newtonian fluid is a fluid whose viscosity when it flows depends on velocity gradient. The external impact suspended on macromolecules leads to viscosity increase. The extent of this increase depends on impact velocity. As a rule such fluids are strongly heterogeneous and consist of large molecules which are able to form complex three-dimensional structures. Starch molecules are built from large number of glucose units. This polysaccharide can produce a large network between molecules. The magic mud looks and feels like pizza dough as long as you move it around. If you stop just for a little the dough collapses into a goo and slimes down between your fingers. The origin of fluorescence in magic mud is guinine. This substance is a component of tonic water and gives it bitter taste. Also guinine is highly fluorescent. It has a fluorescent emission peak at 460nm and in ultraviolet “black light” glows with bright blue light.


Published on 30 March 2015

  • Fire
  • Heating with fire
  • Explosion
  • Poisoned gas
  • Organic
  • Electricity
  • Solution
  • Oxidation reduction
  • Color change
  • Precipitate
  • Gassing
  • Catalyst