DIY Air Dry Clay

Air dry clay is one of those staples that every crafter should have in their arsenal. Handy for a variety of projects, it’s also easy to make with supplies you already have in your kitchen. As with any stove related project, children should only make this with adult supervision.

Things you’ll need
3 parts salt
1 part cornstarch
1 part water
Wooden spoon

Things to do:
1. Add your water to your pan and bring to a boil. Slowly add your salt to the boiling water until all has been dissolved.
2. Little by little add the cornstarch, stirring as you go, until the a solid lump of clay forms.
3. Dump the clay onto a sheet of foil and allow it to rest until it’s cool enough to handle. Once cool, knead until smooth and then use in your projects.

4. This clay will dry to a smooth finish overnight.

UPDATE: We had so many readers having issues with the salt not dissolving, that we looked into the possible issues. It seems humidity plays an important role when you’re making air dry clay. If you live in an area where there is a lot of humidity in the air, your salt will not dissolve and you are left with a grainy mess. You can try using this tweaked recipe…

1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup cornstarch (Plus a little extra as needed)
1/2-2/3 cup water

Mix the baking soda and cornstarch in a pot (dry) until well combined. Add water until you have a smooth, stirrable mixture. Heat on low, stirring all the time, until you it reaches the consistency of thick oatmeal. Sprinkle a little cornstarch onto your counter and turn out the dough. Knead as soon as it is cool enough to touch. The dough will smooth out and become easily workable. Shape and allow to air dry or store in a air-tight container.

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    1. You can store the clay in an air tight container or in a ziplock baggy for a couple of days with no issues. After a while, it will dry out though.

    1. No I dont think it would be absolutely necessary to use a wooden spoon for this project.

  1. errm i cant get mine to work it ended up a gritty salty ball that didnt harden not sure where i went wrong but i definatly had the right quantities….?

    1. Did you dissolve your salt in the water first? If your texture is too thin, try heating it up a little longer until it is thicker. Let me know if if this helps and please let me know if you have any other problems!

    1. Yes, dissolve the salt in the water first. This should help with your grainy texture issue! Please let me know if you have any other issues.

  2. didnt know you could make this stuff until last night, i now have 18 mini masterpeices drying in the kitchen, my son made me snowmen and snails. honestly the quietest afternoon weve had in months! thank you.

  3. can clay be coloured and at what stage .Cooking stage or Kneading stage.Also can dough/clay be kneaded in electric mixer with dough hook?

    1. Great questions Trish! You can color the clay with food coloring. Do this in the kneading stage. Add a little bit at a time until you get the color you want. Im not sure about the electric mixer though. I have not tried this myself but I dont know if it would work that great since it will become very dense. You could try it though and see if it works. I would love to know how it turned out!

  4. Never seen this site before, picked it up from my nieces face book page. i make cards, not very well but every one says they are nice, this is something i will definately try, it sounds good, thank you

  5. Im trying this for the 2nd time, i just cant get the salt to dissolve. Im using 3cups of salt. Do you think this is why? X

    1. The 3 cups salt shouldnt be a problem, assuming that you are using 1 cup cornstarch and 1 cup water with your mixture. If you arent, this may be the issue. Are you letting your salt dissolve in hot boiling water before adding your cornstarch? This may also be another reason why your salt isnt dissolving.

  6. I tried this too – but also could not get that much salt to actually dissolve in so little water, even with boiling water and trying to simmer and stir it on the stove – i just made rock salt out of it all… i added more water to make it loose again, then the cornstarch…. and i got a gritty mass that wasnt smooth nor the same colour as the photo. I just needed enough to make a tiny starfish for a wall hanging Im making, so i went ahead to try that but it was drying out faster than i could work with it so i kept wetting it as I went (like you do playdough) and hopefully Ill get my starfish to work…. just hope it can be painted once its dry.

  7. I am preparing crafts for a large group of Girl Scouts. I have done a test run on several different types of air dry clay. Some are expensive to make and some never really dry. I need one that will dry in about 36 hours and wont crack as it drys. Have you had any issues with this dough cracking?I love the low cost ingredients!

    1. Hi Michele! This airy dry clay recipe is just what you have been looking for it sounds like! We have used this recipe for several different projects {} and you can see there is usually minimal cracking. It’s more likely to happen if you have a ball of clay and you press your fingers onto it but you can easily smooth the edges out before the clay dries. This recipe usually dries overnight but of course this also depends on the thickness and type of project.

  8. Some people add a tbs of oil or cold cream to prevent cracking. Also, I have really good results coloring mine (I make flowers) with chalk pastels and a medium soft dry paint brush. The effect is translucent and blending colors is very easy. Hope it helps!

  9. This idea is so neat! I have to try it! The only problem is that I have a few broken fingers on my right hand. So I was wondering, is this easy to work with? I can shape things well with my left hand, but I dont have enough strength to work with it if its hard. Please Help! -Lucy

    1. I dont think you would have too many problems manipulating the clay. It’s a little stiffer than playdough, so you shouldn’t have any issues only using your left hand to shape things. Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns! Happy crafting Lucy!

  10. when making things that have more than one piece stuck together (ex an animal with a body, head, legs etc. all stuck together) do the pieces stay together once dried? or is it like regular clay that you have to score each piece and add water between the pieces?

    1. It is like regular clay. You must score each piece and add a little water between the pieces for them to stick together. I would also recommended adding a little glue after it is all dry to ensure that it stays together. Happy crafting Jessica!

  11. Is this ratio correct? I couldnt get that much salt to dissolve in that little of water. Kept going and ended up adding in at least twice as much water to get it to come together as a ball. Hoping it still works out but doubtful since it looks nothing like your picture!

    1. So sorry for the delayed response Chrystal! I looked into the issue, since you were not the only reader having issues with the salt not dissolving. It looks like humidity plays a very important role when you’re making air dry clay (which makes a lot of sense after the fact, of course). We have tweaked the recipe and added it to the bottom of this post. I hope this new one works out better for you. Please let us know if you are still having any issues!

  12. Do you actually mean dissolve? Weve been investigating today and found we could only dissolve 1 part salt to 4.5 parts water…

    1. Hello Nicola! We are so sorry that you are having issues with our original recipe. We had a couple other people with same issue, that we looked into the recipe again. It looks like the issue may be humidity! We have updated the recipe at the bottom of this post. Hopefully this will help any problems that you were having. Please let us know if it works better for you! Happy crafting!

    1. Great question Daniella! You could try substituting the cornstarch with flour. I would suggest 1 cup flour, 1/2 cups salt and 1/2 cup water if you decide to go with that route. Please let us know how it turns out! Happy crafting!