Homemade Playdough

Easy Homemade Playdough and the Science Behind It! 

Materials you'll need
  • Mixing bowl or cup 
  • Spoon or popsicle stick 
  • 1 tbsp Water 
  • 1 tbsp Salt 
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil 
  • 1 tbsp Cornstarch 
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • Food colouring 

Step 1: 

Gather all of your materials and make sure you have a clean surface to work on. The kitchen works best because flour and cornstarch like to fly around. Roll up your sleeves and get ready to start! 


Step 2: 

Like all playdough, if you have ever tasted it, it is really salty. Therefore our first step is to add 1 tbsp of both water and salt into our bowl. Here is our first chemical reaction because as we stir you notice that the salt dissolves in the water so that you will no longer be able to see it! Mix until all the salt dissolves, even off the bottom! 


Step 3: 

Next we are going to add 1 tbsp of oil to our bowl. This time, the vegetable oil won't dissolve or really even mix with the water. It will end up floating to the top because oil is less dense than water. Even though oil may look thicker or more viscous, on a molecular level the water is stronger and closer grouped together than the oil. 

Now add in 1 tbsp of cornstarch into the bowl. When you start mixing, you may notice that it becomes tough to stir and clumps up the harder you try to mix it. This is because you've almost made oobleck! Oobleck is made when we mix water and cornstarch (both are now in our bowl!). The cornstarch is what is going to help our playdough clump and stay together. 


Step 4: 

Now is the time to add in any colours or sents that you want! We want to add it now because the solution that we have in our bowl is still a liquid. It is easy to mix two liquids together and have them fully mix. If we were to add the colour after adding in the flour, we are mixing a liquid with a solid and the colour won't blend uniformly. We would have to knead it for a long time. 


Step 5: 

You're almost done! Add in 2 tbsp of flour to your solution and STIR! You want to keep stirring until your solution looks like playdough. If not, we have to use our scientist brains to complete our experiment. If your playdough is one big clump sticking to your spoon and there is nothing left sticking to the sides of the bowl, you're done! Add some extra flour to your hands and start playing with it.
Step 6: 

Don't worry if your playdough wasn't perfect right away. THAT'S THE BEST PART! Now you get to show me a thing or two about science.
If your playdough is too crumbly, just add a little bit of water. I really mean a little bit, just wave your hand under the tap and then sprinkle the water off your fingers into the bowl. Just like if you washed your hands and went to flick the rest of the water at your friend. 

If your playdough is still runny or sticking to the sides of the bowl while you're stirring, you just have to add a little more flour. Add a little bit at a time and mix. Check what your playdough looks like and think about what you need to add next. 

You are done if when you mix your playdough, it is moving in one clump. Now just grab a little flour in your hands and start playing! 


That's it! You've made your very own playdough and looked at some of the science behind a very common product. Remember to share what you did with us online at @uLethbridgeDE. 



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