Essential Oil Play Dough

Mary Beth Johnson is a writer based in Atlanta, GA. She is currently writing her first book in between school drop off and laundry piles. She can be found every day on Instagram and at the local coffee shop.

Essential oil play dough seems like such an extra thing. However, I am that mom who will do anything for an hour of quiet. So, I tried it. You really only need some basic pantry ingredients, some food dye and essential oils and you’ve got an activity that will keep your little ones occupied for a long stretch of time. I think I can speak for every mom when I say, “worth it”. 

four essential oil play dough balls in natural colors on marble

Using essential oils in play dough

As a little girl, I found the smell of homemade play dough completely overpowering. Now that I’m a mom, I tried to find a recipe that would mask the smell. Much to my surprise, I found that essential oil infused play dough totally does the trick! I matched the thieves with blue, peppermint with red/pink, lemon with yellow, and lime with green (if you need some additional ideas on natural products for moms, read HERE). 

child's hands playing with naturally dyed play dough and cookie cutters on marble

Storing the play dough

This recipe will make enough play dough to fill about five of those colorful containers you would purchase from the store. After you’re done playing, seal the dough up into individual sandwich sized ziplock bags. The dough should stay fresh, if sealed, for up to three months.

Dyeing the play dough

You do not have to dye the play dough, but my son was insistent that we make several colors. I have to admit, this ended up being my favorite part of the process. I’m beginning the journey of cutting out Red 40 (artificial food dye) in my son’s diet, so I used a natural food coloring I purchased on Amazon HERE. Later, I found some grocery stores carry the Watkins brand natural food dye and it is significantly cheaper. The colors turned out absolutely beautiful with the natural dyes. When mixed together, as kids are bound to do, the marble effect is gorgeous. I will warn you that the dyeing process is messy. You can mix it with your hands, but I also suggest having a protective covering laid out over your work surface. 

child's hands playing with naturally dyed green and yellow play dough on marble

Now that we’ve gotten all the specifics out of the way, here’s how my four-year-old and I made essential oil infused play dough and had a rare afternoon of quiet together…

Essential Oil Play Dough

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup salt

2 tablespoons cream of tartar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

10-12 drops essential oil, more or less depending on the oil you choose

1.5 cups boiling water

Food coloring, optional

home made play dough in orange and pink mixing bowl

1.) Mix the flour, salt, and tartar together in a large bowl.

2.) Boil the water, pour 1 cup of the boiling water into the dry ingredients, then add the other 1/2 cup slowly till desired consistency is reached. 

home made play dough rolled into a ball in hand

3.) Knead for 3-5 minutes till dough is smooth and perfectly squishy for play. Divide dough into small balls (the amount of colors you’re making).

essential oils mixed with vegetable oil and natural food coloring in glass bowls on marble

4.) Separate vegetable oil into small bowls, the amount of bowls equals the amount of colors you’re making. Drop a few drops of essential oil and food dye into each bowl.

essential oil and natural food dye mixed with home made play dough in glass bowl

5.) Mix your ball of dough thoroughly into the oil/dye combo.

green, yellow, pink, blue natural dyed balls of essential oil play dough

Recipe adapted from The Pinning Mama. 

DIY Recipe

August 15, 2019


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