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Last night we were having Science Time in the kitchen and needed some pepper. When the salt was revealed in the same cabinet it became the highlight of Science Time: dumping it onto a plate, running her hands through it, sprinkling it on the table. I initially imagined just reclaiming her "cereal box" (see last step) and filling it with salt. Then I remembered seeing colored rice previously. I thought it would be fun to try to make colored "sand" out of salt.

Step 1: Supplies

Salt

Food coloring

Hand sanitizer

Step 2: Making Colored Salt

Pour some salt into a bowl. I only used about one to two tablespoons since I was running low, but exact measurements are not necessary for this project.

Then add a few drops of food coloring. I used 4, but how vivid your colors are depends on the type of food coloring you have and the ratio of salt to coloring.

Stir with a fork or spoon until coloring is evenly distributed.

Next add a few drops of alcohol hand sanitizer.

Stir again until evenly distributed.

Consider spreading it out into a thin layer and letting it dry for at least an hour to minimize the color that transfers to kids' hands.

Step 3: Play Time

Time to play! This is what our salt "sand" looked like when all the colors were mixed together.

Step 4: Tips and Alternatives

  • You can probably use rubbing alcohol or vinegar instead of hand sanitizer since I have seen that for colored rice projects.
  • I tried making purple, but when I added red and blue I got a greenish color. Then, I tried mixing red and blue food coloring to make purple prior to adding it to the salt and still got a greenish hue for the final mixture.
  • Her hands initially did not look stained at all, but after 30 minutes of playing with it her hands had turned a little green. If you let it dry for longer it may avoid this issue.
  • For colored rice I have seen that you can make it in a plastic bag

    or a plastic box that you are later going to store it in and shake it instead of stirring.

  • Natural dyes seem like a good option as well.

  • Consider making a very large volume of this. Salt is very cheap. We have a large shallow storage box we have been using as a "sand" box that is leftover cereal and pasta. My original idea was to put at least five canisters of salt into it.
  • Alternatively, you could use white salt as "snow" since it is Christmastime. This would be even easier and no issues with potential food coloring on the kids' hands.

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