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How to Make and Use Salt Puffy Paint

by Jean Van't Hul
February 22, 2017

Here’s how to make and use DIY salt puffy paint with kids (with a video showing the art activity in action!). This is a tried-and-true favorite process art material and technique for children of all ages.

DIY Salt Puffy Paint

Have you tried salt puffy paint? Not many people I know have, but it’s awesome.

The paint is simply a mix of equal parts salt, flour, and water with a bit of tempera paint added for color.

So super easy and inexpensive to make!

You apply it with a squeeze bottle (half the fun!) or an icing bag, and because of the viscosity of the paint, it stays raised, like frosting. Hence the “puffy paint” even though it’s not actually puffy to the touch. Once the paint dries, it’s hard and crystalline (all that salt!).

Colors remaining separate in salt puffy paint

What’s cool is that the colors stay separate rather than mix. You could squeeze out a puddle of yellow salt paint, then add drops of blue on top and those drops of blue would hold their shape and color and separateness until dried.

Everyone seems to love using this kind of paint! From youngest toddlers just getting the joy of squeezing a bottle and watching the paint come out to older kids and even adults.

I’ll show you a brief video I created, showing how to make and use the salt puffy paint, then give the step-by-step instructions and photos.

DIY Salt Puffy Paint

You don’t need much to make salt puffy paint. In fact, you probably already have everything in your kitchen cupboard.

This post contains affiliate links. You’ll need:

*Icing bags or plastic sandwich bags with a hole cut in the corner work okay, too, but are not quite as ideal.


  1. Make your salt puffy paint

    Whisk together equal parts flour, salt, and water. Then mix in color. That’s all!
    For the color, I use food coloring sometimes and a tablespoon or two of tempera paint for the color other times. Both work.
    Ingredients for Making Salt Puffy Paint

  2. Use your salt puffy paint for kids’ art

    Once you have your Squeeze bottles of the puffy paint (in at least two colors), all you need is heavy paper or card stock. (We’ve also done this with card stock, watercolor paper, cardboard, poster board, foam core, and paper plates).

  3. Squeeze the puffy paint onto card stock or heavy paper

    You can make any image, design, or abstract marks desired.

  4. Try adding a second color on top of the first

    As I said earlier, the colors remain separate and don’t mix, which is an interesting aspect of this art.
    Continue until your artwork is finished. Then make another! Salt Puffy paint - Colors remain separate and don't mix

  5. Lay your artworks flat to dry

    Depending on how much paint was used, these may take from 1 to 3 days to dry completely.
    (That’s a shoe rack, by the way. I bought it for $14.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond and it works great as an art drying rack!)

Puffy Paint Heart - Dried Hard and Crystalline

Once the artworks dry, the salt puffy paint is hard and crystalline from all the salt and flour.

Salt Puffy Paint Examples and Ideas

Here are some ideas to try with the salt puffy paint

(clockwise from upper left)

Salt Puffy Paint - More Examples and Ideas

More ideas to try

(clockwise from upper left)

  • Draw flowers, leaves, trees, and other nature items.
  • Try color mixing.
  • Make hearts and Valentines.
  • Do a large-scale collaborative artwork (this was created with several preschoolers on a piece of poster board).
Salt Puffy paint - Squeeze and brush

You can even use paint brushes with your puffy paint (although it won’t look so puffy when dry) as the toddlers in my recent Toddler Art Class wanted to do.

Want more? Check out these 5 puffy paint recipes and art ideas for kids

Pin It for Later

How to make and use DIY salt puffy paint with kids (with a video showing the art activity in action). This is a tried-and-true favorite process art material and technique for children of all ages. #kidsart #kidsactivities #artsandcrafts #painting #sensory #sensoryactivities

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