Okay, so this is a little off topic and not so much about nutrition. But we had so much fun making play dough at home this weekend that I just wanted to share it with you all!

First, here is the recipe we found from an old magazine:


  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tsp liquid food coloring
  • 2 tbs cooking oil
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 4 tbsp cream of tartar


  1. Combine water, food coloring and oil in a small bowl
  2. Add flour, salt and cream of tartar to a large saucepan
  3. Over medium heat, slowly pour the water-oil-food coloring mixture into the saucepan while stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 5 minutes until a ball of dough forms
  4. Cool the dough for 5 minutes then knead with your hands until it is smooth
  5. Store in refrigerator when not in use

The twins had a lot of fun kneading the dough, mixing up food coloring and eventually making shapes out of the play dough!

Of course, being the scientists we are, we simply had to understand the chemistry of play dough! It is really quite fascinating. Here is a short excerpt from how play dough modeling comp0und works which also has a lot of other cool facts about play dough.

Starch granules break down as warm water is added to the flour and the mixture is stirred. Slowly, the mixture becomes gelatinized and turns into a soft, pliable dough. Cooking oil acts as a lubricant which makes it easy to form it into different shapes. Salt acts as a preservative. Cream of tartar is a very important player in this chemistry because it adds strength to the dough. Cream of tartar is actually a by product of wine fermentation where it forms as a potassium acid salt of tartaric acid. In cooking, it is commonly used to add stiffness to egg whites. It is also used to prevent crystallization of sugar.

Commercial play dough contains a lot of other chemicals for making it more stable, less sticky, moist and resistant to bacterial and fungus growth.


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