Play dough – easy, homemade & non-toxic

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Play dough has become the thing to play with at our place. Eva loves it and can literally spend hours (!) modeling, squeezing and flattening the play dough with her hands. And I can’t help to join in. There’s just something soothing and relaxing about shaping and creating without any particular goal in mind.

I’ve decided to make my own play dough for Eva to play with, as I don’t like the chemical smell of the store bought kind. She’s still at that age where I’m not completely certain she won’t sneak a taste if I look away for a second, so instead of worrying, I’ve made something that won’t poison her if she takes a bite. She’s still not allowed to eat it, as it has a lot of salt in it, but at least it’s non-toxic.

DIY: Chemical-free play dough

The ingredients for this play dough is something you’ll most likely have in your household already. And even if you don’t, they’ll be easy to find at the supermarket. The play dough doesn’t take long to make and it’s so much cheaper than the kind you buy. What’s not to like?

You’ll need (large portion):

This will make quite a big portion. I have with success made both half and even a quarter batch.

  • 5 dl. regular white wheat flour
  • 2 dl. fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon oil (I used almond oil)
  • 5 dl. water
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons citric acid (it acts as an preservative)
  • Optional: fruit colours or other natural food items for colouring (how much depends on the brand)

The play dough will keep for at least a month if you add the citric acid – and for longer if you store it in the fridge in an air tight container.

How to – method 1 (my favourite):

  1. Mix all of the ingredients (the food colour can be added now or in step 5) in a pot and put on the stove. If you’re making just one colour or if you don’t mind washing the pot between portions, add the fruit colour at this stage. Otherwise wait. It’s okay with a few lumps in the dough, but try to get as many out as possible.
  2. Turn the stove on and stir continously with a spoon until the mass sticks to the spoon and has formed a dough. It will be runny at first, but wil thicken rather quickly (with a 20 seconds to a few minutes, depending on the stove). When the dough starts to form be ready to take it off the heat, so you don’t end up leaving it on for too long. You’d rather it be a bit too sticky than a bit too dry.
  3. Take the dough out of the pot and allow it to cool. I usually put it on a baking sheet or just a regular plate.
  4. Knead the dough. If it’s to sticky, add more flour until it has the rigth play dough consistency. It should be smooth and flexible.
  5. If you haven’t added the colour to your play dough, divide the dough into several portions, add a different fruit colour to each portion and knead the colour into the dough. It might be a good idea to wear gloves. You can also add some essential oils to the play dough if you’re child’s old enough not to eat the play dough.
  6. PLAY! That it’s it. You’ve made play dough and you’re ready to play.

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How to – method 2:

If you’re not keen on using the stove, there’s another way to make this recipe. You’ll need boiling water instead of a pot on the stove.

  1. Mix the flour, salt, citric acid and oil in a bowl. If you’re making just one colour or if you don’t mind washing the pot between portions, add the fruit colour at this stage. Otherwise wait.
  2. Add the boiling water and mix well. It will thicken rather quickly. You could use a hand or stand mixer with a dough hook. Otherwise a spoon is just fine.
  3. Knead the dough. If it’s to sticky, add more flour until it has the rigth play dough consistency. Be carefull if you’re children are helping. The dough might still be quite hot.
  4. If you haven’t added any colour, divide the dough into several portions, add a different fruit colour to each portion and knead the colour into the dough. It might be a good idea to wear gloves. You can also add some essential oils to the play dough if you’re child’s old enough not to eat the play dough.
  5. PLAY! That it’s it. You’ve made play dough and you’re ready to play.

Find some cookie cutters, small blunt knives, a garlic press, small containers and a rolling pin and let your toddler have a field day.

If you prefer natural food colours you can colour the play dough with items you already have in your kitchen. Like turmeric powder for yellow, blueberry juice for blue/purple, cinnamon or coffee for brown, beet juice for pink and spirulina or clorella for green.

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