While making homemade play dough seems pretty common in more temperate climates, I’ve had quite a few people tell me that theirs just turns into goop here in the tropics because of the humidity. So I wanted to share one of the recipes I’ve had good success with here and how we keep it useable.
This is a pretty standard recipe that I’ve seen on a number of websites as well as in several books. I used to make a recipe with alum but it’s so hard to find here, and I’ve found that this recipe works just as well.
Homemade Playdough Recipe
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup water (I like to use hot water to speed up the process a bit)
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
- 1 tablespoon oil (I use the cheapest cooking oil I can find for this)
- food coloring
- additional scents and/or glitter (optional)
1. Mix all the ingredients together. We usually make several colors and scents so I wait to add these until the kneading process later.
2. Stir continually over medium-low heat until it forms a ball. Mine is always pretty lumpy but once it gets really hard to stir, I take it off the heat.
3. Take it off the heat and dump it onto a silicone mat or a cutting board. Once it cools you can knead it until it’s mixed fully and soft! (This is where I divide the dough and add the colors and scents we want. The kids love to help with this part! This is also where we work out the lumps.)
4. Store in air-tight containers. We’ve used zipper baggies but have more success with plastic containers.
If you live in the tropics like we do, chances are good that the third or fourth time you pull this play dough out to play, it will be really sticky. When this first happened, I thought we’d have to throw it away and was really disappointed, but the thought occurred to me that when bread dough is too sticky, I just add more flour to make it workable. So we decided to try that. I figured if it didn’t work, we were going to throw it away anyway so we wouldn’t really be losing anything but a little flour. It worked beautifully and the play dough became very workable again. We put it back in our air-tight containers, but a few weeks later, it was sticky again. So we got out the flour and played. The play dough lasted over six months without showing any signs of mold or ickiness! I’d say we probably added a couple cups of flour over that time period.
So, that’s the big secret – if your homemade play dough gets sticky in the tropics, add flour and play on!