Non-toxic Play Dough

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It is hard to know what exactly is in conventional Play Doh because their recipe is listed as “proprietary” on their website. More searching reveals this:

Play-Doh's current manufacturer, Hasbro, reveals the compound is primarily a mixture of water, salt, and flour, while its 2004 United States patent indicates it is composed of water, a starch-based binder, a retrogradation inhibitor, salt, lubricant, surfactant, preservative, hardener, humectant, fragrance, and color. A petroleum additive gives the compound a smooth feel, and borax prevents mold from developing.

We do know there is wheat and gluten containing ingredients found within it. The unnatural hues are indicative of artificial dyes. For those with celiac and gluten sensitivity, even touching conventional play dough can be problematic and cause unwanted symptoms.

This creates the need for a natural alternative that is safe for our children to use. Our recipe is gluten and grain free and free of chemicals, artificial fragrances, and dyes. Using wholesome ingredients including natural food dyes and essential oils, children are able to play freely without concern of consuming or coming in contact with harmful substances.


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1 1/2 cups cassava flour

3/4 cup arrowroot powder

3/4 cup real salt 

2 tablespoons cream of tartar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 

1 1/2 cups water

Natural food dye

Essential oils

In a sauce pan, combine cassava flour, arrowroot powder, salt, and cream of tartar. Whisk the ingredients together with a fork. Add the extra virgin olive oil and water to the pan and stir together until well combined. Turn the heat on to low and continue to stir consistently until dough forms. This takes about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the dough to cool. If you choose to add color to the play dough, divide the dough into equal portions and add several drops of natural food coloring to the dough. Knead the dough to work in the food dyes. We also love adding several drops of essential oils at the same time. 

Not only is this play dough recipe non-toxic and free of allergens, the added essential oils support the mind and body on a deeper level. Choose essential oils based on the aromatic properties you hope to impart into the play dough. Our favorite essential oils for play dough are:

  • Lavender : a classic essential oil known for its calming effects on the mind and body

  • Balance : a grounding blend that brings feelings of tranquility and relaxation

  • Peppermint : a fresh, invigorating scent that promotes focus and stamina

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My girls enjoy playing with this aromatherapy play dough during read aloud time. It serves as a kinesthetic activity to aid in learning. Plus, mind-focusing and grounding essential oils offer added benefit to kinesthetic learning and playing. 

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