In my opinion, playdough was one of the best parts of being a kid. There creative possibilities that you can explore with those bright hunks of dough are just amazing and there really isn’t an adult equivalent. And, while the Play-Doh that you can buy in stores is actually not as bad for you as you think, it still isn’t the best choice for some children.
According to the health and safety information from the play-doh company, Play-Doh is a non-toxic, non-allergenic dough whose main ingredients are water, salt and flour. The company, of course, does not say exactly what is in the play-Doh, but due to the high amounts of flour, children with gluten allergies may have allergic reactions to the product if ingested. Additionally, most commercial dyes are not super healthy. That isn’t to say you’ll die if you eat it–I mean, what kid hasn’t eaten a little Play-doh in their lifetime?
Regardless, if you’re looking for a homemade alternative (or simply don’t want to fork out the money for something as simple as Play-Doh) then making it at home is incredibly simple! All you need are the following ingredients:
- 1/2 cup flour (for gluten-free, use half rice flour, half cornstarch instead!)
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1 Tablespoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup water (pre-dyed if you’re using natural dyes; see below!)
- dyes (if you are not using natural dyes)
How much of each ingredient you make will depend on how much playdough you want. The above amounts are for a smallish batch.
Homemade playdough is best made on the stovetop and really only takes a few minutes. You’ll want to mix all the dry ingredients in a saucepan and stir well. Then add the wet ingredients. Heat on low and stir continually until the dough forms a ball. Be careful not to let it burn! It should clean the sides of the pan.
Place the dough on a worktop and knead until it is elastic, then store in an airtight container or wrap with plastic wrap. If the dough is a little sticky while kneading, you can flour the workspace and your hands. If it’s too sticky, put it back in the pan and heat a little longer.
If you’re interested in doing a natural dye instead of the store-bought kind, then you’ll want to pre-dye the water. There are tons of ingredients that can be used including kool-aid, jell-o mixes, fruit, veggies, herbs and anything else you can think of! Check out this awesome post by Mommy Potamus for instructions and some great ideas on natural dyes for playdough.
It is important to note that if you want to use natural dye, then you’ll need to add it to the water BEFORE you make the playdough. Otherwise, you’ll add the dye later, after the dough has been formed. If you intend to make different colors, you’ll need to either make much smaller batches by each color or else try and separate out the ingredients prior to adding the water. Make sure to measure carefully!