Raised Salt Painting - featured image
Kids Arts and Crafts Activities Watercolors

How to Make Raised Salt Paintings


Raised salt painting is an all-time favorite kids art activity that is loved by all ages from toddlers on up. Glue, salt, and watercolors are all you need for this simple art activity, also known as salty watercolors.

Raised Salt Painting Materials_

Updated March 2021

Raised salt painting is awesome. I mean, AWESOME.

We’ve done this so many times over the years, starting when Maia and her toddler art group buddies were still in diapers.

If you haven’t tried raised salt painting yet, now’s your chance! First I’ll share a video of the raised salt painting in action, then give you the step-by-step tutorial for this fun art activity.

Are you ready to get started? Here we go…

Raised Salt Painting for Kids

Rainbows and Hearts in salt
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*Any sturdy art surface will do. We’ve done this with card stock, poster board, cardboard, watercolor paper, paper plates, and foam core.

**Liquid watercolors are great for this activity. If you don’t have any, you can make your own by watering down food coloring.

Time needed: 1 hour.


  1. Squeeze glue designs onto your card stock

    Use your glue to draw a design or picture onto your cardstock.

    Raised Salt Painting with Kids - Glue Art

  2. Sprinkle with salt

    Carefully sprinkle salt onto cardstock until the glue is thoroughly covered. Tip to let excess salt fall away. A baking dish or tray helps to contain the salt.

    Raised Salt Painting - Adding Salt to Glue Drawing

  3. Add color!

    Dip your paint brush into liquid watercolor paint then gently touch to the salt-covered glue lines. Watch the paint “magically” travel in both directions!

    If you like, you can use a dropper or pipette instead of a paint brush to add your watercolor paint. We find that this can add a bit too much paint at a time, but I know that many people like this method.

    Raised Salt Painting - Adding Watercolor Paint

  4. Let dry thoroughly

    The drying process may take a day or two.

    Raised Salt Painting - Wet

    Note: If you’re wondering about the art mats or the liquid watercolor pots in a base, I talk about them in my post about tools for children’s art.

Once dry, display your new artwork!

Raised Salt Paintings Hanging on Display Wire

Raised salt paintings are an all-time favorite art activity in our house (along with shaving cream marbling, microwave puffy paint, and splatter painting). And, like those others, it’s one that every kid I know loves, too.

Name painted on paper

You can use this glue + salt + watercolor technique to write names/words, nature scenes, squiggles and scribbles, faces, and more!

How about you? Have you tried raised salt painting with your kids yet?

By the way, these salty watercolors are one of our Top 10 All-Time Favorite Art Activities for Kids. If you like this, you might like to check out the others on the list.

Artworks on Display Wire

More Painting Ideas for Kids

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Raised Salt Painting - pinterest (1)

How to Make Raised Salt Paintings


  • Reply
    January 19, 2017 at 11:53 am

    After drawing with glue and covering with the salt…do you then allow that to dry before using the liquid watercolors?

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      January 19, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      We add the liquid watercolors immediately, Morgan. It works fine! You can let the glue/salt dry first (we have done that, too) but there’s no reason to wait. The kids usually want to add the color right away!

      • Reply
        Louise Haws
        January 7, 2021 at 2:14 pm

        I’ve done a couple and am doing this online for my class tomorrow so have made them in stages to demonstrate them but how do you stop them from drying out and the salt falling off?

        • Reply
          Betsy S
          February 19, 2021 at 2:01 pm

          I’m wondering the same – how to “set” the salt so it won’t crumble off. Our Remote Learning Center has done this with a few different pictures on card stock and the kids can follow the outline for variations of the same starting point.

          • Rachel Withers
            March 2, 2021 at 1:39 pm

            Hi Betsy,

            I find this project works best in two stages–first have kids glue & salt their designs, then let dry completely. At this point, give a shake to remove any excess salt into the trash (depending on your child’s ages, you may loose a lot of salt here!). Then proceed with painting and let dry again. Hope that helps!

            Rachel (Editorial Manager for The Artful Parent)

    • Reply
      Michelle Crothers
      May 9, 2018 at 7:48 pm

      Oh, I love this idea. My kids at our center would so love this project. Thanks Michelle

  • Reply
    January 19, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    We’ve never thought to use a tray of salt. That’s a great idea. We’ve always just sprinkled salt from a bowl or shaker onto the paper on a mat. Harder to contain the extra salt that way. I’ll file that top away!

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      January 20, 2017 at 3:34 pm

      We started using a tray of salt early on, with the toddler art group, to contain the salt and also so it could be re-used over and over by all the kids. It works great.

  • Reply
    Phillipa Lyes
    January 19, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Do you think food colouring would work instead of water colour paint?

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      January 20, 2017 at 3:33 pm

      Yes, Phillipa! Just water down the food coloring a bit first.

  • Reply
    January 20, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Love it! We will have to try this one soon.

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      January 20, 2017 at 3:33 pm

      Yes! Definitely give it a try!

    • Reply
      February 14, 2020 at 2:13 pm

      Okay my K.kids can’t squeeze glue bottle hard enough,a spoon would be to random,and suggestions

  • Reply
    January 20, 2017 at 9:43 am

    We did this quite a while ago but I’ll have to do it again now you reminded me! We never even used to water down food dyes. Good idea to get maximum use from them. Only yesterday, we did the same thing with glue and glitter. My five year old and her little friend LOVE doing that! They just love glitter. Just for a change, I’m going to set it up for them next time. :) And I love the old vinegar and bicarb trick too. I’ll do that for them as well. :)

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      January 20, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      Yes, Brigitte! If the 5yo’s loved glue and glitter, they’ll love this one, too. Give it another go!

    • Reply
      November 10, 2018 at 10:09 pm

      What’s the vinegar n bicarbonate trick?

  • Reply
    January 20, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Love how saturated and bright these colors are! We can’t wait to try this one!

  • Reply
    Brenda F-O
    January 21, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    We are so doing this at Tiny Tots at the library! Perfect for spring rainbows and flowers during March story times! We’ll use cut down cardboard boxes for our “canvas”. Mahalo for sharing; the moms/grandmoms and children will love the magic!

    • Reply
      April 22, 2020 at 6:11 pm


  • Reply
    January 22, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Does the salt stay on a while? or do you know a way to stop it from chipping off? Thought this might be a great mother’s day gift.

  • Reply
    Marissa Claire
    January 22, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    Wow! I had never heard of raised salt painting. It so easy and colorful. I can imagine kids enjoying it!

  • Reply
    January 23, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    After I set our pictures aside to dry, the paint bled onto the cardstock. Any guesses as to why this might happen? We used regular water colors, which seemed to be working fine during the actual painting process. Thanks!

  • Reply
    January 31, 2017 at 9:52 am

    I tried this, but the brand of liquid water color I used did not spread, then I used food coloring which did spread nicely. I guess some brands spread better?

    Also, after the project dried, the salt chipped off and made a mess.
    Have you had this problem? I did mine on regular paper, not cardboard. Does it matter?

    The salt I used was non-iodized – wouldn’t think that would matter.

    I was so hoping this project would work for us – not sure what went wrong!


  • Reply
    February 2, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    Your beautiful samples show Pai tvonly in the salt, not the paper. Can preschoolers achieve that clean white background? I know it should be about process, not product, but I’m just curious.

  • Reply
    February 21, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Do you think this would work in a stretched canvas for a school art project?

  • Reply
    February 21, 2017 at 10:27 am

    I’m looking forward to trying this with the children in my in home child care! The directions for the liquid watercolors I got say they must be diluted for use. Do you use them as is for this project or dilute them?

  • Reply
    March 3, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Can you use Kosher salt? Where can I get that paint cup set? Do the cups separate from the tray? I am a home visitor and I need something portable that doesn’t have a lot of pieces that can be lost.

  • Reply
    March 6, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Hello! We tried this today. However, the result is not as good as yours. The colour didn’t quite “travel”. I suspect it’s related to the humidity. It’s a bit humid here today (I’m from Hong Kong), which made the salt a bit wet before we added the colour, thus it didn’t absorb the colour very well, do you think so? Thank you!!

  • Reply
    Cassandre Augustin
    April 12, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    Can you use epson salt instead of table salt ?

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      April 13, 2017 at 5:34 am

      I don’t think so, Cassandre. I think it’s quite different. Isn’t it magnesium sulfate? However, you could always do a test one to see if it would work at all…

  • Reply
    April 26, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    We had the same problem as Annie on January 23 – the watercolors bled on the cardstock leading to very disappointed 5 and 9 year old girls unfortunately. We watched your video prior to starting and they were careful to touch only the salt and glue. Any specific tips to reduce bleeding would be much appreciated.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Great post Jean. The texture and brightness look awesome.

  • Reply
    tina black
    May 30, 2017 at 3:40 am

    I’m sorry I’m new hear but I notice when the comments were about something that went wrong you didn’t answer I’m just curious to why you didnt

  • Reply
    Anna K.
    June 2, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    I really want this to work! But unfortunately had the same bleeding issues as a couple previous commenters. I used Colorations liquid watercolors and didn’t let the glue dry. I think I’ll try again and let the glue dry this time in case that makes a difference. I used heavy paper, but I don’t remember exactly what. Any suggestions?

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      June 3, 2017 at 6:19 am

      Hmm… Are you using a paint brush to gently dab the paint to the salt-covered glue lines? Rather than a dropper? Some people use droppers but I find it doesn’t give you the same level of control and causes too much paint to be applied.

      We usually do this without letting the glue dry first and use a variety of surfaces. Cardstock, posterboard, foam core, cardboard, and watercolor paper.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    Thought this looked amazing so I tried it with my kids the other day. It went great except once they were totally dry chunks of the glue started to fall off! Did we do something wrong? Do you have any suggestions?

    • Reply
      October 4, 2017 at 6:14 pm

      I’m having the same problem and would love to try again but adjust to keep that from happening.

  • Reply
    September 2, 2017 at 12:13 am

    Fun project

  • Reply
    September 7, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    Hello! I’d like to ask if this would work with acrylic craft paint? Thanks so much for sharing – I’m excited to try this with my grandkids.

  • Reply
    Debbie Denyer
    November 10, 2017 at 10:07 am

    We love salt painting too. I love that it’s great for a whole range of ages. It’s a great science lesson in absorption too! I’m a big believer in process art, where the focus is on enjoying the process of creating, rather than the final product. Which is handy as salt paintings have a tendency to gradually fall apart as the salt dries out! They’re such great fun to do though.

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      November 10, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      Agreed on all points, Debbie! :) Salt painting is so much fun to do and looks great, but is not the best long-term keeper.

  • Reply
    De Knutseljuf Ede
    March 16, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    Hello jean, thank your these amazing ideas. You inspired me! I live in The Netherlands and I ave made a little (dutch) blog about Salt Painting. I have put your name and this link in it!
    Maybe you like to see it: https://yoo.rs/de.knutseljuf.ede/blog/tekenen-met-lijm-zout-en-waterverf-1521217678.html?Ysid=88861
    Best regards and creative greetings from The Netherlands (Europe)
    De Knutseljuf Ede

  • Reply
    Onyinyechi Anyanwu
    April 26, 2018 at 6:42 am

    It was a fun-filled activity for my kids and I. I have 18 of them in my class and they really loved this activity. I never knew they were this creative until I asked them to make whatever picture they love. They made birds, cats and their names. Planning the shaving foam and food colour activity for next week. Thanks somuch

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      April 26, 2018 at 7:19 am

      So glad you and your students liked the raised salt painting!

  • Reply
    Joanne Townshend
    July 21, 2018 at 10:48 am

    Can I do the raised salt painting with sand instead of salt? Will the paint spread?
    Joanne Townshend

  • Reply
    October 29, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    This looks like so much fun – can’t wait to try! One question – do you think art canvas would work as a surface, instead of cardboard or card stock? Thanks!

  • Reply
    December 11, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    is this good for pre scool studens

  • Reply
    Heather Stinson
    January 3, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    I’m not sure why, but I’m not seeing any link to a video. Could you please share?

  • Reply
    January 30, 2019 at 2:43 am

    Do these salt paintings last “forever”? Do you apply any sort of fixative to them to make the last? Can they be framed? I’m guessing using a mat would be a good idea, so that the salt doesn’t touch the glass.

  • Reply
    May 13, 2019 at 11:31 am

    The sad part of the his project occurs hen you try to pick it up to take home….the salt flakes off and the kids become upset. Sure the parents were not happy with the he mess it probably left in heir cars!

  • Reply
    May 29, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    I think that is awesome. my favourite one of them is the heart and the rainbow and I will try my best to do that because it looks easy but it probably isn’t at all.

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      June 2, 2019 at 4:24 am

      It is easy! You can make any design or picture you like!

  • Reply
    Jana Luüs
    September 22, 2019 at 8:46 pm

    We did this project in class and it looked beautiful until it dried… now it has a white layer of salk on top of it?
    Do I just try to chip and shake the salt off?
    The small pieces are not easy to come off…
    Any advice,

  • Reply
    October 18, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Can you please tell me where I can get the plastic holder for the paint? I’m looking for something like this to pour the liquid water color in for them.

  • Reply
    November 3, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    What a great idea! It’s crazy how the paint runs in the salt glue!

  • Reply
    March 23, 2020 at 6:32 pm

    Looks AMAZING will it work with regular washable paint (Goasch)?

  • Reply
    March 8, 2021 at 3:10 pm

    Can I use Kosher Salt intead?

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      March 9, 2021 at 8:17 pm

      Any salt works, Julie! The texture will be different with coarser salt, but the effect will be the same. Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Jessica S
    April 28, 2021 at 4:52 pm

    I can’t wait to try this! Where did you find the clear trays you’re working on in the video? I’d like to trade my cookie sheets for those!

  • Reply
    June 26, 2021 at 1:09 pm

    Should I water down the paint a bit?

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