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Essential Oil–Scented Play Dough

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Play dough can be a great tool for sparking creativity in both children and adults. You can make a great sensory experience by adding essential oils to your play dough. This recipe makes a smooth, shiny, colorful, scented play dough that lasts a long time before drying out!


Essential Oil–Scented Play Dough

  • Servings: Yield=4 play dough balls
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup salt, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. cream of tartar, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water, divided
  • Food coloring
  • Essential oil
  • Vegetable Glycerin
  • 4 oz. Salve Jars


  1. In four separate bowls, add 1/2 cup flour, 1/8 cup (2 Tbsp.) salt, 1/2 Tbsp. cream of tartar, and 1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, and stir together.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to boil. Once boiling, remove from heat, and place 1/3 cup of water in four separate bowls or cups. Stir in a different color of food coloring in each bowl or cup of hot water. Keep in mind that the coloring will be lighter once added to the flour mixture, so you may need more than you think. About 10 drops of food coloring for each bowl should work well.
  3. Add a bowl of water to each bowl of flour mixture, but add just a little bit of water at a time as you stir the dough. Continue adding water until the dough feels just right. If you added too much water, you can add a little flour and knead it into the dough until you get the right consistency.
  4. Once you have your colored dough balls, make a little well in each one, add a few drops of essential oil and a drop or two of vegetable glycerin to each ball, fold the dough so it closes over the well opening, and then continue to knead the dough for about 60 seconds each ball. If you find the scent of the dough is not strong enough, add  a few more drops of the essential oil.
  5. Store each piece of dough in a 4 oz. salve container, ziplock bag, or other air-tight container.

Extra Ideas:

  • Adding the food coloring to the water is a much cleaner way to get the color distributed evenly throughout the dough than adding the coloring after the dough is formed. But, if you would rather, you can always just make one bowl of flour mixture by following the measurements above, add the boiling water in increments until you have a good dough, divide the dough as desired, and then add your food coloring just like you would add the essential oil.
  • Be sure to choose essential oils that are safe for children. It’s fun to choose oil scents that go along with each color, and this also makes for a fun sensory experience. For example, mix a drop of lemon essential oil in with the yellow play dough, a drop of peppermint essential oil in with the green or blue play dough, a drop of orange essential oil in with the orange play dough, a drop of lavender essential oil in with the purple play dough, etc.


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