Picture of How to make conductive play dough.
All credits go to the people over at the squishy circuits website.

I was on hackaday earlier this year and I found an article on squishy circuits.  I thought making circuits from play dough sounded like a very interesting idea.  I did some research into it and it seemed simple enough; different ingredients created different values of resistance and so on.  I thought about it, and decided that I had to make some for myself.  I threw some together and it worked great!  In this instructable I will provide the recipe for conductive dough, insulating dough, as well as some ideas for circuits you can build out of it.  I think this has enormous potential in a classroom setting, being able to teach students how circuits work, something that I didn't even understand until about three years ago.  I can just imagine a whole class of students showing off their creations that glow, and make cool noises.
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Step 1: Conductive dough

Picture of Conductive dough
In order to make the conductive dough, you will need the following:

1 cup Water
1 1/2 cups Flour
1/4 cup Salt
3 Tbsp. Cream of Tartar*
1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
Food Coloring

*9 Tbsp. of Lemon Juice may be Substituted

Mix water, 1cup of flour, salt, cream of tartar, vegetable oil, and food coloring in a medium sized pot.

Cook over medium heat and stir continuously.

The mixture will begin to boil and start to get chunky.

Keep stirring the mixture until it forms a ball in the center of the pot.

Once a ball forms, place the ball on a lightly floured surface.

Slowly knead the remaining flour into the ball until you’ve reached a desired consistency.
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Could I use the dough to make a capacitor, and how would I do it?

GASSYPOOTS3 years ago
if u used tartar dont eat it (tartars a laxitive)
Cream of tartar is commonly used in foods without any problems related to a 'laxative' effect.
If you use PlayDo dount eat it. (PlayDo is toxic)

Hi - I'm trying to help my 4th grader design a science project with only one variable. Her original idea was to see whether cookie dough or pizza dough was more conductive (not workable - too many variables). Could you instead suggest two recipes for playdough where only one ingredient differs - and that might give her interesting results as far as conductivity or resistance? What can I say - I'm a musician :).

Jan_Henrik10 months ago


Slay.2 years ago
If i were (and i may be in the process of doing this) to find some bouncy play-doh, kneed in some iron powder so it would be magnetic, and then do this to it, would it still bounce, be conductive, and be magnetic? also, is the iron powder alone enough to make it conductive (the doh was NOT conductive to begin with due to it being a knock-off called bouncy-doh).
furrysalamander (author)  Slay.2 years ago
Possible, what you mean by do this to it. But I'd imagine the iron would make it conductive already.
Nerko-erko2 years ago
Instead of insulating dough, could one use normal play dough?
No, Play Dough is conductive as well. You could get away with only making the insulating dough and using Play Dough as the conductive dough though.
techxpert3 years ago
will the play dough heat up if the battery leads are connected directly to a thin strand ?
The dough has pretty high resistance, so a short across it shouldn't cause too much heat...
furrysalamander (author)  techxpert3 years ago
care to elaborate?
I really ejoyedthis. I mixed up a coupleof batches toshow how the brain might conduct electricity. The dtudents kovedit.

Thanks so much! I made this for my 8th graders and they loved it. I even had some 3rd graders playing with it as well. They could not believe that we were playing with play doh in 8th grade.

But hey, that's science!
Nice! I'm in eighth grade too. I'm glad you tried my project!
techxpert3 years ago
great job!!! :)
Ugifer3 years ago
This is excellent stuff!

I might well combine this with the "555 piano" circuit:

You could tape a wire to a spoon and make a "keyboard" out of dough. I guess you would make "fingers" for keys joined by a fairly thin bar at the top to give the resistance.

The resistance of the dough would probably be high enough to give a different pitch for each note! If not, just use less salt in the recipe.

I sometimes do simple projects with my 6-year old and some of her friends so we might make this one, I reckon.
leegeorg073 years ago
I assume changing the amount of Tartar sauce changes the resistance? If so, you could try make colour coded resistors using it somehow. Or show how you can substitute a group of resistors for one larger one. by colour coding them.
furrysalamander (author)  leegeorg073 years ago
It would work, I think, but a better way to do this would be to just change the way you have them connected. Short fat wires=Low resistance, Long skinny wires=High resistance
I should have said, I mainly meant for teaching the resistor colour codes. *note to self, add context*
Dhunter14693 years ago
I'm sooooooooo gonna try this just if it dries it might become like sugru:)))
( we dont gt sugru in SA )
furrysalamander (author)  Dhunter14693 years ago
It dries like regular playdo, unfortunately. Gets dry and crumbly.
MR.Geo3 years ago
This stuff could have come in handy when I was learning about resistivity in my Advanced Subsidary physics course.

resistance=resistivity*length/cross sectional area.
Amazing! I never would have thought of this! 
Nice stuff! I made some and made a xmas tree with it about ten inches tall, and the wood in the middle was 2 strips of brown and one strip of insulating green twisted to look like a candy cane. and all of the lights were conducting leds off branches, poked in:}Merry late xmas!
furrysalamander (author)  solomonhorses3 years ago
post a picture! It might get you a free pro membership!
epignosix3 years ago
I think this would work well in a car cig lighter outlet if you have the conductive part insulated. You could put a bunch in box to give yourself multiple 12v connections I think....
wilgubeast3 years ago
That looks like an awesome way to learn circuitry. Good on you for entering it into the Teacher Contest.

I would counsel against traveling with this, as it looks ever-so-slightly like a plastic explosive. An educational plastic explosive, though, no matter how sketchy wires protruding from a plasticine substance may look.
furrysalamander (author)  wilgubeast3 years ago
you can win a pro membership by showing me what you make with this.
Can you use it to make a circuit board?
furrysalamander (author)  alindsey33 years ago
ivanjacob3 years ago
you can use it to make sure firework doesnt fall down
furrysalamander (author)  ivanjacob3 years ago
electrical uses
In case the batteries don't fit into the battery case that well, you can put the dough in there and make it fit snugly.
elizjvv3 years ago
Why not enter this into the teacher competition? I teach Maths and English, this makes me wish I was a science teacher. Very cool.
furrysalamander (author)  elizjvv3 years ago
Please rate!
Voted & rated
furrysalamander (author)  elizjvv3 years ago
And vote!
furrysalamander (author)  elizjvv3 years ago
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