Are Orbeez (Water Beads) Biodegradable?

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: November 5, 2021
  • Time to read: 12 min.

Are Orbeez biodegradable? And if so, how long does it take Orbeez to biodegrade?

Orbeez is a brand or trade name that identifies a certain type of expandable gel bead.

How long does it take for orbeez to grow? These small pellets grow up to 100 times their original size when put in water.

What are Orbeez (Water Beads)?

Orbeez, which are also known as water beads, are actually super-absorbent polymers (SAP) that can absorb and retain an incredibly large amount of liquid.

We all know that water beads are incredibly cool but how long does it take for orbeez to grow. They are small but have the ability to grow to up to 100 times their size.

Orbeez are not plastic. orbeez composition are made from biological polymers.

Orbeez are highly absorbent polymer beads made pf acrylic acid, sodium hydroxide, and color pigmentation, making them more absorbent and easily degradable.

What Are Orbeez Made of?

Orbeez is made of super absorbent polymer beads. 

Remember, a polymer is a large molecule that consists of many small molecules joined together.

So, these are highly absorbent beads made of sodium hydroxide, acrylic acid, and color pigmentation. 

They’re always packed in plastic bags.

Orbeez Origin and Impact on Environment

The US Agricultural sector developed orbeez in early 1960. 

Their sole purpose was to absorb water in the rainy season and release it in the dry season to help plants grow in harsh weather.

Though orbeez was not the first material used for this purpose in farms, it played a crucial role in boosting agricultural productivity.

However, Orbeez, a non-natural product, packs some chemicals, the main reason many people wonder whether or not water beads biodegrade.

The debate about the biodegradability of material will never pass without environmentalists and manufacturers chipping in with opposing ideas.

It is unfortunate that orbeez, too, is part of this stormy discussion. 

Are these beads environmental slayers, or do they have nothing to do with the current environmental woes?

Acrylonitrile polymer ingredients are used to make new orbeez. 

Unlike nylon, cotton, and tissue papers, Orbeez takes a bit longer to degrade.

In a nutshell, orbeez environmental impact depends on its original form. 

The environmental impact of orbeez is not very bad despite having a slow decomposition rate.

These water beads are safe because they’re non-toxic, biodegradable, and safe with young children and pets. 

They don’t harm marine life as well, but you need to dispose of them properly.

If you mix them in garden soil, they will shrink and biodegrade quickly.

Let’s kick-off!

Why Do People Love Orbeez (Water Beads)?

There are few reasons why most people love Orbeez.

Let’s take a look;

  • You can use them for decoration. The colors promote ambiance, making everything shine.
  • They’re perfect for art projects. 
  • They’re colorful; thus, kids love playing with them.
  • You can use them to make light jars for visual flair.
  • Adults say that Orbeez are therapeutic to the touch, especially when they’re wet.
  • Water beads brand Orbeez are non-toxic.

Are Orbeez Biodegradable?

Yes, Orbeez is biodegradable. Orbeez balls are absolutely safe for the environment. 

The main reason is that water beards have a great water-absorbent ability.

For that reason, gardeners and farmers use them to grow plants and retain moisture around the crops. 

Also, flower shops use them to create cute flower decorations.

Orbeez are non-toxic. 

This is another proof that they’re 100% biodegradable. 

The fact that they’re safe doesn’t mean you litter the environment with them.

Look for the best methods to dispose of them. 

That shows how you care for the planet.

Facts and Chemical Components in Orbeez

Yes, it is. Orbeez being a non-natural product, packs chemicals is the main reason why folks beg for the question, “are Orbeez biodegradable”?

According to research posted by, the environmental impact of Orbeez is not very bad despite having a slow decomposition rate.

The organization states that Orbeez is not a threat to an ecosystem. 

But, does this statement hold any water to a committee tabled by die-hard environmentalists?

Let us find out more about the chemicals in Orbeez.

Chemicals in Orbeez

Since its introduction over 60 years ago, Orbeez has evolved very much to meet its functionalities and act as an organic compound.

Manufacturers initially used synthetics to produce polyacrylates which were the main building blocks in Orbeez.

They later replaced polyacrylates with polysaccharides, which are friendlier to the environment.

Thanks to technology and research involved in manufacturing.

During manufacturing, a factory produces a small ball measuring 14 mm in different colors. Teal, orange and blue are common colors, but skeptics say that despite Orbeez being generally safe, their colorings have a different motive for the environment.

Are Orbeez (Water Beads) Recyclable?

Nope. Orbeez, plus other water beads, aren’t recyclable.

Keep in mind that Orbeez are made of superabsorbent materials which are non-recyclable. That’s it!

If you’re considering disposing of Orbeez, then here is what you should do:

  • Throw water beads in the trash
  • Place it in the soil as it is good for gardening

Are Orbeez (Water Beads) Bad For the Environment?

Yes, Orbeez is entirely biodegradable and safe for use.

Each Orbeez have unique colors and sizes. Most people argue that although Orbeez is relatively safe to the environment, its coloring might pack a deadly dose of radioactive materials.

They state that the reason why Orbeez glows at night is the radioactive material in the paint.

It is essential to note that despite the public having little scientific proof on the radioactive effects of Orbeez’s paint, children should avoid them. 

Scientists agree altogether that consuming Orbeez might have adverse health effects.

Evidence showing that Orbeez comprises 30% chemical components (polyacrylamide) and 70% watery sticky gel backs this fact.

Sodium polyacrylate, which is the main component of polyacrylamide, is relatively safe for the environment.

Its environmental and health impacts are so minimal that it supplies water directly to small pets instead of using large containers. 

Also, as stated above, you can use Orbeez in the garden. So far, plants seem to respond well to their services positively.

In another research posted by, the pigmentation in Orbeez is just a color.

It doesn’t dissolve in the water; hence, plants don’t absorb its chemical components when used.

So, consuming fruits or vegetation watered by Orbeez is safe.

kids love orbeez

Modern Uses of Orbeez 

In recent years, Orbeez beads are increasingly becoming household staples.

Their popularization is almost reaching the climax.

  • Kids use them as toys.

Kids use them in nerf guns as projectiles. They find fun shooting at each other using Orbeez’ bullets’, which are harmless and soft on their bodies.

  • Orbeez decorate homes

Interior designers are developing a sweet taste for Orbeez due to their multiple color variations.

They not only glow at night, illuminating your house like the Milky Way but also their shape glorifies your home with beauty.

  • Gardening 

In modern usage, Orbeez has more advantages than negative effects on the environment.

During hot summer months, let your kids enjoy playing with the beads while spreading them in the garden. 

At night the beads will absorb dew which they will release to plants as moisture during the day. 

This process will reduce the time spent on watering the plants.

Also, if you are not around, perhaps you are out for a one-month summer vacation; leaving the beads in the garden will avail necessary moisture for your plants.

Above all, the nontoxic hydrogel in the beads doesn’t release chemicals to the ground.

Thus don’t worry about Orbeez killing your plants. 

Are orbeez Toxic?

No. They don’t contain harmful chemicals that can leach into the soil. 

So, you can use them in your garden.

You can eat them in small quantities because they won’t cause any harm. 

Water beads don’t impact sea creatures. 

Can You Eat Orbeez?

Yes, though in small quantities. 

They don’t contain toxic chemicals. So, water beads won’t degenerate in the digestive tract. 

The orbeez balls will neither stick together nor be absorbed into the body.

Even a child, cat, or dog can ingest them because they pass through the digestive system without posing problems. 

But it’s advisable not to eat them, especially for children of less than 3 years.

They may cause serious health problems, including internal blockages. 

If your child accidentally eats them, consult your pediatrician right away for medical attention.

Do Orbeez Decompose?

The answer is yes. But this depends on the conditions they’re kept in. 

Mix them with excess water and soil to speed up the decomposition process.

But how long will orbeez take to decompose? Unlike plastic materials that take thousands of decades to decompose, water beads take 7 to 10 years to decompose completely.

What Happens if You Leave Orbeez in Water Too Long?

Gel beads do shrink back to their original size. 

Beads absorb water but don’t leach it out, so don’t leave them in plenty of water for too long because you’ll be forced to drain off the excess water.

Soak them orbeez for three to 6 hours to maintain their size. 

By keeping them hydrated, they’ll last 2 to 3 years. Always rehydrate them to keep them fresh.

How to Store Orbeez Beads

Because orbeez beads are reusable, you should keep them in good condition by ensuring proper storage.

When you’re finished playing with water beads, just dehydrate them for not more than 6 hours. 

Then put them into a plastic bag or a container with a lid.

Ensure the container is well closed and airtight. 

You can check them out after a week or so, and if they’re dry, you can soak them in water.

Are Orbeez Made Up of Plastic?

No, manufacturers make water beads with acrylic polymer. 

Even though it looks like plastic, orbeez isn’t made of plastic materials.

Polymer beads mimic hydrogel that absorbs water. 

That’s the reason why they decompose more quickly than plastic.

Effects of Orbeez (Water Beads) on Aquatic Life (Fishes and Other Animals)

Orbeez is an indigestible material, so when fishes or pets eat them, nothing actually happens.

The entire bead passes through the digestive system without digestive juices skewing it. 

However, broken beads may be deadly to animals in various ways.

  • Swallowed pieces of Orbeez may cause death

A broken bead has a large surface area to volume ratio.

This increases the surface at which the bead absorbs water, so it will expand very fast when swallowed, causing internal discomfort.

 The miniature size of the bead also gives it another disadvantage, where it can lodge itself in small ducts in the digestive system. 

After absorbing moisture, the bead will increase in size, thus blocking the duct from releasing digestive juices.

This will cause massive disruption of digestion, pain if not sudden death, to animals.

  • Orbeez harbor vectors and disease-causing microorganisms 

The good water-holding properties of Orbeez are a potential environmental threat.

If these beads settle in a tranquil place like a corner, it forms a good breeding place for mold and bacteria.

These harmful microorganisms may spread throughout the house affecting all in-house pets, including humans.

In swamps, Orbeez homes small vectors like snails. Here, these vectors find a safe haven in the bead where there is plenty of moisture to breed.

After some time, the vectors multiply and spread out diseases to other animals. 

The spread of water-borne diseases does not end in aquatic creatures only; on the other receiving end are humans, the masterminds of Orbeez.

In addition to being expandable and harmful, Orbeez biodegrade very slowly and can stay in any environment for long.

This, too, is a problem since they will keep hosting diseases and killing marine creatures.

How to Get Rid Of Orbeez (Safe Ways to Dispose of Orbeez)

This is the question of all time. In our first part of the article, we were majorly focusing on the effects of Orbeez on the environment and living organisms. 

Although their chemical compositions are not bad for the environment, the question still remains; are Orbeez biodegradable? If not, how are we going to remove them from the environment?

  • Collect and put Orbeez in dumpsites

There is no doubt when you buy a single packet of Orbeez; your kids will transform your home into a fun pack dotted by thousands of colorful beads.

But wait, what happens if your kids end their game and are not interested in these little beads?

The next phase of fun is cleaning your home!

However small these beads might be, the only solution to return your home into its original tranquility is by collecting each bead. 

Well, it is a tough job, but you need to understand the effects of Orbeez lying on your garden as a starting point.

A fully bulged Orbeez seed exerts enough pressure capable of killing grass.

Now imagine thousands of Orbeez seeds lying on your beautifully maintained garden; what will be the effects?

To correct the problem, manually pick all the beads from the garden.

This might take some time, but your garden will remain in its original form in the end.

  • Leave the environment to dispose of Orbeez seeds 

Manufacturers continuously refine their production lines to eco-friendly Orbeez, as data in the past few years show.

Nowadays, it is easy finding an Orbeez package with a sticker indicating ‘100% biodegradable’.

In a market structure full of tricks and distrusts, this might be another scam to win the heart of environmental loyalists.

But is this a scam, or Orbeez manufacturers mean what they are producing?

Here is how to know Orbeez is safe to the environment and can integrate with nature after expiring. 

  • Authorities are certifying Orbeez beads globally, an indication it is a safe product for the environment

Authorities all over the world are unremittingly approving the usage of ‘certified Orbeez,’ especially in the floral industry.

This is the first green light proving that the Orbeez is environmentally friendly and nature disposes of it. 

  • Past studies tie Orbeez to little environmental destruction

From past studies, there is little conclusive evidence tying Orbeez to pollution, unlike plastic.

This information paints a clear picture of Orbeez being a natural ally which means it is biodegradable. 

  • Orbeez users speak a lot about its safety standards

Another way to gauge the sanctity of Orbeez is by looking at who its users are.

In the USA, Orbeez is a common household toy used by kids. 

If Orbeez was very bad to the environment, then kids would be part of their catastrophic line.

Since this is not the case, authorities are continuously certifying the usage of Orbeez as a kids’ toy.

Wrong ways to Dispose of Orbeez (Water Beads)

At times we may find ourselves doing the wrong things.

In the world we’re living today, it’s important to know how to dispose of Orbeez. Here is what you should not do:

  • Don’t flush them
  • Don’t pour them out

Precautions When Using Orbeez (Water Beads) 

Like other toys, the use of Orbeez follows a strict set of rules to reduce the risk of home accidents.

  • Children under five years should not use Orbeez

Orbeez is generally safe for the kids to play with it, but you need extra care when toddlers are on the line.

Their attractive color resembles that of a candy that lures toddlers to eating them, causing a series of health problems. These health problems include stomach pain and, worst case, choking.

To avoid these accidents, Orbeez manufacturers issue precautions that exempt toddlers from using their products.

Their packages state that children under five years should not use Orbeez.

  • Small pet owners should keep their pets away from Orbeez 

Well, everyone loves interacting with harmless hamsters or docile bunnies; how about their safety? Are they safe in your hands with Orbeez beads dotting the floor?

Sometimes raising bunnies and rat hamsters can be costly, from destroying electric cables to eating unhealthy products. Rats especially are fond of eating anything they feel is chewable.

So in case they come across an Orbeez ball, rats will comfortably serve themselves!

The chewed pieces will block their digestive system, which may later kill them. 

What Happens if You Break Orbeez Beads? 

Have you ever tried to break an Orbeez bead? Most people believe breaking these beads splashes water all over the place! 

This, however, is not true because Orbeez uses a series of chemical reactions and polymer bonds forming a gel-like substance which holds water.

These beads absorb water but don’t break like a shell releasing it to the surrounding.

Breaking the beads only simplifies its functionalities by increasing the surface area. This, in turn, improves moisture absorption rate.


Orbeez (Water Beads) originated from brilliant minds of the USA’s agriculture sector, but along the way, it acquired many uses. 

Today, billions of these beads sell each year, which raises the question of their effects on the environment. But from our articles, it is clear Orbeez isn’t deadly to the environment as initially perceived.

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