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.
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!).
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.
- Food coloring or tempera paint
- Squeeze bottles*
*Icing bags or plastic sandwich bags with a hole cut in the corner work okay, too, but are not quite as ideal.
The Salt Puffy Paint Recipe
Whisk together equal parts flour, salt, and water. Then mix in color.
For the color, I use food coloring sometimes and a tablespoon or two of tempera paint for the color other times. Both work.
How to Use Salt Puffy Paint for Kids’ Art
- Heavy paper or card stock*
- Squeeze bottles of the puffy paint (in at least two colors)
*We’ve done this with card stock, watercolor paper, cardboard, poster board, foam core, and paper plates.
Squeeze the puffy paint onto card stock or heavy paper in any image, design, or abstract marks desired.
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.
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!)
Once the artworks dry, the salt puffy paint is hard and crystalline from all the salt and flour.
Here are some ideas to try with the salt puffy paint
(clockwise from upper left)
- Double-doodle art with two squeeze bottles simultaneously.
- Expressionist art.
- Write names and words.
- Draw faces or people.
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).
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.
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