Making your own play-dough at home is easier than you think, and the kids will love it. You’ll feel peace of mind knowing that your kids aren’t putting anything dodgy into their mouths (and those inevitable chunks bitten out) at playtime. You may even find them so preoccupied with their homemade play-dough that you get to go to the bathroom by yourself!

Image: mommypotamus

Image: mommypotamus

A quick lesson on what ingredients can be found in most conventional play-dough (also known as modelling clay) brands:

  • Water
  • Starch-based binder
  • Retrogradation inhibitor
  • Salt
  • Lubricant
  • Surfactant
  • Preservative
  • Hardener
  • Humectant
  • Fragrance
  • Colour

Cue our natural and super easy recipe. There’s an option to add natural food colouring and/or essential oils (as this play-dough is naturally odourless).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • Natural food colouring (see tips below)
  • Optional: a few drops of essential oils for fragrance. Citrus oils like orange, lemon and lime are good choices that are safe for small children.

Instructions

  1. Combine one cup of flour, half a cup of salt and 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar in a saucepan.
  2. Next, add one cup of hot water and 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil. You can use any type of vegetable oil you have in the kitchen.
  3. Heat the mixture slowly, whisking or stirring until it forms a ball and is a play dough-like consistency. This recipe calls for a bit more cream of tartar than many play-dough recipes and for good reason. The cream of tartar creates a smoother, silkier, stretchier play-dough.
  4. Once it’s cool enough to handle, add your essential oils and/or food colouring.

 

As for essential oils; pick peppermint if your child is home sick from school; lavender to help calm them before bed or nap time; and lemon to normalise body temperature.

As for colouring, you can very easily mix colours at home. Your children will love mixing the colour in and watching what’s quite a monotone colour turn fun! It’s all a bit of trial and error.

Here’s how to colour your play-dough using food items already in your kitchen…

  • BLACK: activated charcoal
  • BROWN: instant coffee, cinnamon, cocoa powder
  • PURPLE: raw purple cabbage
  • BLUE: blueberries
  • GREEN: spirulina powder, kale, spinach juice
  • YELLOW: turmeric
  • ORANGE: carrot juice
  • PINK: beet juice

To get started making your own dye, just put the selected veggies/fruits in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Let boil for 10 minutes to kill any bacteria that might cause mould and then simmer for 10-30 minutes depending on how intense you want the colour to be. For spices, just warm the water up and mix until dissolved.

You’ll never turn back to purchased play-dough after using this recipe, it’s soft chemical-free and healing. Win win win.