Salt Puffy Paint
Kids Arts and Crafts Activities Painting

How to Make and Use Salt Puffy Paint


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). Set up for Salt Puffy Paint Art with Kids

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

    You can make any image, design, or abstract marks desired. Salt Puffy paint - Toddler Process Art and dots

  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!) DIY Salt Puffy Paint Drying on Shoe 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
How to Make and Use Salt Puffy Paint


  • Reply
    February 23, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Hey! Since these paints don’t mix and have great texture they’d probably make the greatest manzalas ever!

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      February 23, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      I think you’re right, Carly! I’m assuming you meant to write mandalas, btw? :)

  • Reply
    February 24, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Can’t wait to try this! How long do they last in the squeeze bottle? Does the paint dry up and crystallize in a few days?

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      February 25, 2017 at 8:40 am

      Our paints lasted for a week in the squeeze bottles, Sarah. They might last longer — I’m not sure — but we used ours up by then. And yes, the puffy paint dries in 1-3 days depending on how much is on the artwork.

      Have fun with this!

  • Reply
    Elaine Phua
    March 3, 2017 at 12:43 am

    Hi there, can I ask whether this paint stains clothes and other surfaces it comes into contact with? I’m on the lookout for non staining art activities to do with my toddler (17 months). Appreciate this website, many great ideas!

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      March 3, 2017 at 4:50 am

      We haven’t had it stain anything, Elaine! If you’re worried about staining, perhaps use tempera paint for the color rather than food coloring. Good luck!

  • Reply
    Laura Runco
    March 3, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Love this! Can’t wait to give it a go! Can I use acrylic paint instead of tempera?

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      March 4, 2018 at 5:13 am

      Acrylic paint should work fine, but just remember that it is permanent. Have fun!

  • Reply
    Katharina Frank
    March 23, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    This is awesome! Love it! Can’t wait to try this with my kids in school. Is it possible to hang the finished paintings up on the wall or does, if so, the paint come off?

    • Reply
      Melissa Garrett
      March 26, 2018 at 11:53 am

      Hi Katharina. I’m the project manager here at The Artful Parent and I’ve been in many art groups where Jean has used this salt puffy paint. The paint dries very hard and looks great hanging on a wall afterwards. The paint won’t come off. Depending on how much paint the kids use, it does sometimes take a few days to fully dry, but the process and the results are stunning. Hope you have fun making it! Thanks for reading :)

  • Reply
    June 14, 2018 at 7:49 pm

    Do you wash out the squeeze bottles and reuse or is there no way to get them clean once the paint is in them?

  • Reply
    June 26, 2018 at 5:17 am

    Hello. We live in a very humid country, I don’t know if that affects the drying time. Will it help to dry the paintings quicker with a hair dryer or should they be in an airconditioned room? Many thanks

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      June 27, 2018 at 2:45 pm

      Hi Aimee, we have high humidity in the summer where I live, too. I imagine it affects the drying time a bit, but I don’t think it does too much.

  • Reply
    August 21, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    i need to explane this to little kids and the reason why it is puff and why colors don’t mix. as a science thing .

  • Reply
    September 7, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Hi I would like to know the ratio of flour and salt and water, thank you !

  • Reply
    Tonya Johnson
    December 1, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    Hi there! Could you use less water to make it a thicker consistency, like frosting? Would it hold shape if piped with a frosting tip?

  • Reply
    August 21, 2019 at 11:29 am

    Hi ! what flour did you use ? Mine turned out rather watery and started running. But I mixed the ingredients with a spoon instead of a whisk ….

  • Reply
    September 15, 2019 at 11:30 pm

    I know this is a very old post but do you think I can use this to decorate clay gingerbread houses as a keepsake? thinking of doing go gingerbread house out of polymer clay with the kids

  • Reply
    Mary Breathwit
    July 8, 2020 at 8:41 am

    When you give a craft , show the cup measurements or it does not help if we are wanting to make this craft.

  • Reply
    July 21, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    It shows the measurements on the video Mary.

  • Reply
    August 11, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    also the recipie said that you just do equal ammounts

  • Reply
    ROSA Hernandez
    January 3, 2021 at 10:35 am

    Is it okay if I can paint in aluminum foil paper

  • Reply
    June 13, 2021 at 4:02 pm

    If I did this on canvas how long will it last Would like to give as end of year gift

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