What Are Orbeez: Invention and What It Is Made Of

Mary Stephens

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What are Orbeez?/Meaning

Picture of Orbeez beads
Picture of Orbeez beads

Orbeez are super-absorbent polymers (SAP) made up of several molecules joint together and which grow to more than 100 times their size when immersed in water.

And what are the Polymers that make up Orbeez?

Synthetic polymers play important role in agricultural uses by creating a climate beneficial to plant growth through controlled irrigation and became very popular back in the 60s. They are also in diapers and they absorb wet material and you can technically say Orbeez are diaper pellets.

Orbeez have gained great popularity recently and I didn’t know what they were until my five-year-old and eight-year-old kids couldn’t stop nagging me about buying them Orbeez to play with in the pool. To my surprise, they also knew little about Orbeez when I asked them what they were.

Their layman’s description went like this “they are small colored balls to play with in the water”. Okay, that was not adequate information to understand what Orbeez are. His father had no idea what they are either. I did what I do best; Search engines are my best friend and looked up all about the new kids’ craze.

Over the last year, the search for the word ‘Orbeez’ on Google has grown four-fold as shown in the graph below;

orbeez popularity in the US as per searches on google

I’ll answer some more questions about Orbeez below but first, check out the video below describing everything you can do with Orbeez:

Are Orbeez plastic

Orbeez are not plastic but are made from biological synthetic polymers that are highly absorbent beads made of acrylic acid, sodium hydroxide, and color pigmentation to give them color.

Check out the video below of how 100 million Orbeex can grow/expand to:

How Orbeez are made

Orbeez are made of acrylic acid, sodium hydroxide, super-absorbent polymers and color pigmentation. The molecules have very large molecules that absorb water molecules that link them and store them in between their synthetic polymers and merging with liquid.

What is inside orbeez

Inside Orbeez are synthetic polymers that shrink and are filled with air in the absence of water and in the presence of water , Orbeez fills its network of molecules creating beads.

You can soak the Orbeez balls overnight to let them grow to their maximum side.

Simply add more water when your Orbeez shrinks to regrow them and continue having tons of fun!

Can Orbeez be reused?

Yes, Orbeez is reusable even after it shrinks, you get bored using the balls in the same manner. You can easily shrink them by leaving them under the sun, where they will release all water and reduce to their original size. Note, spread the balls in thin layers to speed up the shrinkage process.

Also, you can add water or alcohol to speed up the drying process.

On a later date, when you or your kids miss the thrill of having fun with Orbeez, you can grow them again by placing them in water. Generally, you can regrow them two or three times.

When were Orbeez made/invented & Popularity

Maya Toys Logo
Maya Toys logo

Orbeez were first invented in the early 1960s for agricultural purposes (water retention in the soil) by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The Maya Group Corporation developed and produce Orbeez but recently sold it to Spin Master, another publicly traded global children’s entertainment company. Maya company made Orbeez for the first time in 2009 but it really gained popularity from 2018 and in 2021/22, it is almost becoming a mainstream toy item.

Its release date is around August 5, 2009, as per this news release. .

Maya Toys which invented the Orbeez is an innovative leader within the toy industry. It is best known for its award-winning Orbeez brand, the company is dedicated to applying new technologies and on-trend themes to time-proven play patterns. 

Orbeez what to do with them

Orbeez has many uses, which are;

  • You can use them in place of soil to water your indoor plants
  • Used as party decorations where you place the water beads in clear glass vases with color-changing submersible LED light balls
  • Used as candle holders, where you fill them in a short glass vase and add a long taper candle. Also, you can add Orbeez and water to a large vase and then place a floating candle on top
  • Used as flower holders
  • They are used for sensory play with young kids
  • Orbeez are used as water balloons
  • what are Orbeez beads

Orbeez beads are several molecules joined together in round shapes and grow when the water is absorbed into the spaces between the molecules. Familiar with what holds a baby’s urine in the diaper? Exactly, those tiny Balls are Orbeez beads!

Tali Ben-Ezer: Woman who invented Orbeez


Tali Ben-Ezer and Oden Ben-Ezer, the co-founders of Maya Toys, invented Orbeez. She is currently the VP of Public Relations for Maya Toys, a company she co-founded with her husband in 1992. Tali earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and her Master’s degree in Advertising and Marketing from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. You can read this interview with her here.

During the interview, Tali Ben-Ezer revealed that they founded Maya Toys, the company behind Orbeez in 1992 in a New York City apartment and named it after their daughter Maya.

Orbeez where to buy

Orbeez are available in most physical stores such as Walmart. Orbeez are also available in online shops such as Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, AliExpress, and Target.

  • Check out 30+ Orbeez products on Amazon here.

Orbeez safety

Are Orbeez non-toxic

Orbeez are non-toxic because they do not degenerate in the digestive tract, the balls do not stick together, nor are they absorbed into the body. If swallowed, Orbeez are eliminated through the natural digestive system.

Are Orbeez toxic to dogs

Orbeez are non-toxic to dogs. The body eliminates the polyester beads through the digestive system without breaking them down.

Are Orbeez dangerous

Yes, and no. Orbeez are all fun and games until a child of below three years chokes with the beads. Orbeez are safe to use for kids and pets, but caregivers must ensure that their young ones do not swallow Orbeez, especially in large amounts to prevent choking.

Are Orbeez bad for the environment or Biodegradable?

Orbeez are safe for the environment as long as they are disposed of properly. The simplest and safest method of disposing of Orbeez is by throwing them in the trash while packed in a bag or another container to prevent accidents in case they spill out of your bin as they are very slippery. Orbeez are made of polymers that consist of polypeptide – long chains of amino acids, forming a protein macromolecule. These polymers that make up Orbeez are made up of long and repeating chains of molecules. You can read more about the safety of polymers here.

Also, you can mix Orbeez with soil in your garden where they will shrink and biodegrade.

Orbeez are safe because they are biodegradable, non-toxic, and safe with kids and pets under a caregiver’s supervision.

NOTE: Never pour or flush Orbeez in a drain because they may expand and clog or even burst pipes.

Are Orbeez good for plants?

Orbeez for plants

Orbeez are good for plants, especially because they are non-toxic and release water into the plants gradually. Orbeez, or gel beads, are used in place of soil, especially for indoor plants.

Note, you should add a little plant food to the water that you will grow your Orbeez in because the gel beads do not have any nutrients.

Are Orbeez flammable

Orbeez are non-flammable because of their Leiden frost Effect. A Leiden frost effect, in this case, is when the outer surface of the Orbeez has water that creates vapor of steam or gas because the hot pan vaporizes it and the layer of steam makes the Orbeez bounce instead of catching fire.

Are Orbeez safe for fish?

Orbeez are non-toxic to fish. However, the small, round, brightly colored polyester beads are unsafe for fish because they expand approximately 300 their original size, which can obstruct its intestines, and consequently, kill the fish.

Are Orbeez toxic to pets?

Orbeez are completely non-toxic to pets. They do not stick together nor do they break down in the digestive tract, meaning they are not absorbed into the body. However, they are a choking hazard just like all other small objects. As such, Orbeez should be kept out of reach of children under three years.

Orbeez are they biodegradable

Orbeez are biodegradable and is safe for use with kids and pets because it dissolves and degrades when swallowed. On its packaging, you’ll see a tag indicating that it is ‘100% biodegradable’. However, the manufacturer recommends that kids below the age of five do not use them as they pose choking hazards.

Orbeez Giant & DIY Steps to make Giant Obreez

orbeez giant.png

Giant Orbeez are water beads that are bigger balls than the normal Orbeez even before you grow them. The Giant Orbeez grow to 1.7-2.2 diameter inches when grown in clean water for 24-36 hours.

You can purchase them from here.

Orbeez ultimate soothing spa

orbeez spa.png

Orbeez Ultimate Soothing Spa gives you a treat with a soothing massage with a feeling of cascading Orbeez

It comes with an in-built strainer that heats your Orbeez easily.

It includes 2000 Orbeez. You can purchase the Orbeez ultimate spa on Amazon here. We have more Orbeez foot and hand spas here.

Orbeez toys

Orbeez toys are playsets of super absorbent polymers that increase more than 100 their volume when put in water.

There are hundreds of Orbeez toys for all kids, which include:

  • Orbeez-Massaging Body Spa
  • Orbeez Water Beads
  • Orbeez Woe World-Wowzer Surprise Series 1, Magical Pets (Pack of 2)
  • Sensory Jungle Beads Aqua Water Beads-4 Colors Sensory Beads
  • Orbeez Spin and Soothe Hand Spa Decorating Toy, Assorted Color,

Among many others.

Orbeez chair

orbeez chair.png

The Orbeez chair is the ‘Orbeez Massaging Body Spa Chair’ for kids from the Maya Group.  The Body Spa includes 6000 Orbeez. The Orbeez chair relieves your stress when you immerse your body in it. It comes with a Paly n’ Display Tray, which kids can use to play games or make different designs.

The Body Spa has soothing vibrations and hand pouches that increase relaxation.

You can purchase the Orbeez chair on Amazon here.

Orbeez in Bathtub

orbeez bathtub.png

Orbeez in a bathtub is another fun way of using bouncy and squishy beads. Make sure that the tub’s drainage opening is closed to prevent clogging all the drainage systems in the house.

Orbeez in pool

Orbeez are used in a pool as water balloons. Orbeez absorbs water and expands up to 300 times their original size, which makes it fun to use in the pools, especially for kid’s parties.

Also, Orbeez in the pool enhances your kid’s floatability. Mark Rober, a NASA engineer conducted a test ‘Orbeez in the pool’ by placing 25 million in his backyard pool. The result was that you sink up to your waist when you enter a pool full of Orbeez. Thus, Orbeez in the pool is fun and safe.

How to Use Orbeez

The next question after you succumb to the Orbeez craze is ‘how to use Orbeez’. The first step is to identify what you wish to use Orbeez for. It could be for party decorations in the pools, as toys for kids and pets, used for spas by children, candle holders, in the bathtub, or your farming as a plant-watering method.

One thing is for sure, however; that the first step of using Orbeez is growing them. So, how exactly do you grow Orbeez? Below is a simple and easy-to-follow guideline of how to grow Orbeez.

  • Open a packet of Orbeez and pour the balls into a bowl. Fill the bowl with bottled or distilled water and leave to soak for at least four hours, or overnight.

Tip: Add a pinch of salt to keep the Orbeez fresh for longer.

  • Drain excess water when the Orbeez beads have reached their maximum size.

Warning: Make sure you do not pour grown Orbeez down the drain because the clogged pipes or worse, burst them open.

  • Finally, the fun part. Use your grown Orbeez beads as you wish.

The table below shows exactly how much water you need to grow Orbeez.


Where to buy Orbeez

  • Orbeez amazon

amazon stocks different Orbeez packs, such as the;

Orbeez iOS

It is no surprise that Orbeez has an app in iOS devices to quench your hunger for fun-filled Orbeez beads.

Yigithan Yucedag developed the app, which is 138.9 MB.

The game is available in English and is suitable for persons of at least four years.

The app is available on iPhones and iPads for free downloads, where it is compatible with iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, among others.

You use your creativity to grow the Orbeez balls and transfer them into the jar

  • Orbeez at target

Orbeez stocks several products, which are Orbeez Wow World Wowzer, Orbeez Squeezable Activity Kit, Orbeez Ultimate Soothing Spa, and Orbeez Mega Pack.

Click here to purchase Orbeez at target

  • Orbeez eBay

eBay stocks several Orbeez products such as 50 PCS Large Jumbo Aqua Balls Giant Orbeez Magic Garden Water Beads Jelly Yard and 10, 000pcs Crystal Aqua Balls Hydrogel Orbeez Garden Water Beads Jelly Balls.

Click here to purchase Orbeez products from eBay.