10 Play Dough Tips & Tricks

10 Play Dough Tips & Tricks


One thing we've learned is that there is a serious learning curve for making play dough! Here are our top tips & tricks as you follow mamapapabubba's recipe:

  1. Salt is NOT optional. It's necessary to prevent mold. Dissolve it in hot water before adding to your dough for a super smooth texture. Cooking your play dough on the stove accomplishes this as well.
  2. Glycerin IS optional. Many recipes don't use it. I've tried using a few drops up to 1 tbsp. and haven't noticed much difference. It may make it smoother and more malleable - jury is still out!
  3. I've found that mixing the dry ingredients on low in a stand mixer for 5-8 minutes makes your play dough light and fluffy (especially right after its made).
  4. Humidity affects the recipe, specifically your flour-to-water ratio.
  5. Even a little too much water will require a lot more flour. In Austin (usually pretty high humidity), I use about 2/3 of the water in the recipe. If your play dough looks like thick frosting, you need more flour. Add 1 tsp. at a time until it's just pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Mix with your hands, and decide if it still needs more. Leaving it just barely sticky at first will make it perfect after a few hours (put immediately into a container). Big chunks and a flaky mixture mean you need more water. Add 1 tsp. at a time.
  6. Put the salt, food coloring, glycerin, and coconut oil into the hot water and mix well prior to adding to your dry ingredients. This will get the most even color and smoothest texture. Your salt will not dissolve completely, so be sure to use a spatula to scrape it all out. Don't worry if the color is very, very dark in your water. The flour will lighten it significantly.
  7. If you opt for glitter, apply it with a fat, flat and dry paint brush to spread it evenly across the top of your dough. It doesn’t take much to completely coat the top - maybe a 1/4 tsp.
  8. Plastic wrap looks really pretty but tends to get holes and is difficult for kids to rewrap properly. We've switched to jars - plastic or glass. Repurposed when possible from store bought play dough, baby food jars, diaper cream, and beauty creams!
  9. If your play dough is getting dry and crumbly, you can reconstitute it with hot water. Start with tiny amounts (a little goes a VERY long way). I put the play dough in my stand mixer with a 1/4 tsp. of hot water, and add incrementally from there if needed.
  10. If your kids don't play with play dough often, store it in the fridge to keep it for longer. Mine has lasted well over 6 months! Check your plastic jars for cracks often, and make sure the lid is screwed on tightly after play.

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