Water gel beads are non-toxic and do not pollute the water, making them a decorative alternative to soil in glass vases. Water beads have become a popular sensory activity to do with kids. To use, soak in water or distilled water for best results with at least 200:1 water versus bead volume in your container. Soak for a few hours or overnight for bigger beads. Your expanded beads can last a long time by adding water to keep them hydrated.