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How can I Make Play Dough?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2016
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Play dough is a generic term for modeling material that is usually made from basic kitchen ingredients. Play-Doh® from Hasbro Toys is a commercial version. Play dough is a non-toxic compound that can be used and reused if stored in airtight containers. It can be colored with food coloring and combined with other materials, such as pipe cleaners, glitter, feathers, etc. Unlike modeling clay and plasticine, which do not dry out, and clay, which is meant to be dried and fired, play dough is best used for temporary projects, as it tends to crack when it dries out. The homemade product can be used with the tools, such as extruder and molds, that come with the commercial product.

There are many play dough recipes, and they vary on the following fronts:

  • the main dry ingredients
  • how the pigment is added
  • whether or not the recipe is cooked
  • whether or not oil is added
  • extra ingredients
  • edible or inedible

The main dry ingredients for play dough are usually flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt. The pigment is often added with food coloring, powdered drink mix, powdered tempera paint, or fruit or vegetable juice such as that from beets or pomegranates. Extra ingredients include alum and cream of tartar. Extracts may be added to give the play dough a pleasant smell.

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There are many recipes for play dough with differing proportions. You may have to try a few before you find what best suits your purposes.

Here are some non-cook play dough recipes. They should be thoroughly mixed and may keep better if stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator.

2 c. (.47 L) flour
1 c. (.24 L) salt
2 Tbsp (29.5 mL) alum
1 c. (.24 L) water
2 Tbsp. (29.5 mL) cooking oil
food coloring of choice

4 c. (.95 L) flour
¼ c. (.06 L) tempera powder
¼ c. (.06 L) salt
1 ½ c. (.36 L) water
1 Tbsp. (14.8 mL) cooking oil

1 c. (.24 L) flour
1 small paper packet of powdered drink mix
½–1 c. (.12–.24 L)salt
½ c. (.12 L) water
1–3 Tbsp. (14.8–44 mL) cooking oil

Here are some cooked play dough recipes. They can be mixed in a saucepan and then heated on low to medium heat and mixed until they’re thickened, using the desired type of food coloring. Remove them from the heat and when they’re cool enough, knead them for a few minutes.

1 c. (.24 L) flour
½ c. (.12 L) salt
2 Tbsp. (29.5 mL) cream of tartar
½ c. (.12 L) water
2 Tbsp. (29.5 mL) cooking oil

2 c. (.47 L) baking soda
1 c. (.24 L) cornstarch
1 ½ c. (.36 L) water

1 c. (.24 L) flour
½ c. (.12 L) salt
1 Tbsp. (14.8 mL) powdered alum
1 c. (.24 L) water
2 Tbsp. (29.5 mL) cooking oil

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Discuss this Article

anon61618
Post 2

found in the craft area in walmart called Mogg Pogg, in a jar white like glue but dries clear.

Kathy9
Post 1

I have 2 questions:

1) is powdered alum really necessary (I cannot find it)

2) my son is building a mission model using flour, salt, hot water then baking it on low to harden - what can he use to seal it (to preserve it for about 2 months)?

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