If you are anything like me, you probably have lots of crayons and broken crayon pieces around the house. What do you do with all those pieces? A quick search on Pinterest will bring up several ideas. I found this round-up of 27 ideas, many of them are variations on the same themes. You can melt them down into bigger, shaped crayons using silicone muffin or ice cube molds (did it). You can melt them with other waxes to make candles (tried it – they look great but don’t burn well). You can shave them to make suncatchers (tried it). You can melt them in glass ornaments (tried it – came out really nice actually). There are several variations on melted crayon art (the drip from the top of the canvas one is actually pretty difficult and takes a lot of practice to get it looking anything like what you want). You can even make your own makeup with them. Or, I as tried with this project, you could use them to color play dough!
Making play dough at home is actually easy. All you need is flour, salt, cream of tartar, vegetable oil, and water, along with some method of coloring the dough. You could use food coloring. The gel type works well for vibrant colors. Or you could use some of those crayons you have at home. I had already used up my broken crayon stash in other projects. However, I found these little boxes of 8 crayons in a color theme at a closeout store for a ridiculously low price. I looked at several recipes for play dough and worked out this version that makes a smooth, soft dough that holds it shape well when cut out or molded.
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 crayons – or equivalent in pieces
- 1 Cup water
- 1/3 Cup salt
- 1 Cup flour
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Because I was using coarse grind salt, I added it to the water so that the dough would be smooth rather than having granules in the final product. I did not see other recipes suggesting this step, so if you are using a fine grind, you can skip this and add the salt to your dry ingredients.
Mix the flour and cream of tartar in a bowl. Add the salt if you did not add it to the water already. Set aside.
Break your crayons into 4-5 pieces each.
Heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add crayon pieces.
The crayons will start to melt in the oil.
When the crayons are fully melted, add the water. If your heat is too high, you will get a strong reaction between the oil and water, so be sure that your heat is only on medium!
I used Crayola crayons and it turned lumpy like this. Crayons made by other companies may have a different blend of waxes and so may become even more lumpy or it could even stay smooth.
Add the dry ingredients and stir, stir, stir. At first it will look white and pasty. Then the color will blend through the dough.
The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan as you stir. It happens very quickly on medium heat. If your heat is too low, it can take several minutes to move from the paste stage to the dough stage. When the dough starts to stick to itself and form a ball as you stir, dump it out onto some parchment paper or a cutting board or your countertop.
In this picture, my heat was a little too low and the dough was still a little sticky when I dumped it. It came together in the next step.
Once it is cool enough to handle, which takes just a minute or two for adults or about 10 minutes for kids, knead it with your hands until it is a smooth consistency throughout. If it does feel a little sticky, add a little flour and knead it well.
This dough is very playable, just like the store bought stuff. It rolls out, it cuts nicely, and it goes through the extruders.
Store your play dough in an airtight container and it will last for months. If it starts to get a little dry, just knead a few drops of water into it until it is back to normal.
I found these 1.5 cup storage containers at the dollar store. They are the perfect size for storing a batch of play dough!