Instructables

Natural dye for homemade playdough

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Picture of Natural dye for homemade playdough
I have discovered lately that its really easy to dye homemade playdough with natural ingredients. We dyed ours using raspberries, rose petals, beetroot, blueberries, turmeric and oak tree bark. Check out the results in the picture. Pretty good eh?

As well as creating some great playdough it’s also a lovely way to teach kids that some of the most beautiful dyes can be found in your own back yard.

You can read this, and other eco-craft ideas at minieco.co.uk.
 
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Step 1: Extract the dye

Picture of Extract the dye
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Raspberries

Put a big handful of raspberries and a cup of water in a pan. Bring to the boil then gently simmer on stove for 20 minutes (until liquid has reduced to about half). Once cooled pour through sieve then follow playdough recipe below

Rose petals

Roughly tear up the petals from about six red roses and put in pan with a cup of water. Bring to the boil then gently simmer on stove for 20 minutes (until liquid has reduced to about half). Once cooled pour through sieve then follow playdough recipe below.

Beetroot

Chop up one medium sized beetroot and put in pan with a cup of water. Bring to the boil then gently simmer on stove for 10 minutes. Once cooled pour through sieve then follow playdough recipe below.

Blueberries

Put a big handful of blueberries and a cup of water in a pan. Bring to the boil then gently simmer on stove for 20 minutes (until liquid has reduced to about half). Once cooled pour through sieve then follow playdough recipe below.

Turmeric

Put approx two teaspoons of turmeric in a pan with a cup of water. Bring to the boil then gently simmer on stove for 20 minutes (until liquid has reduced to about half). Once cooled pour through sieve and follow the recipe below.

Oak tree bark

Put a big handful of oak tree bark in a pan with a cup of water (its best not to take it directly from the tree – if you scout around you will find plenty on the ground). Bring to the boil then gently simmer on stove for 20-30 minutes (until liquid has reduced to about half). Once cooled pour through sieve then follow playdough recipe below.
sabu.dawdy1 year ago
this is beautiful
jkaraya2 years ago
I used dried blueberries I found in the cupboard and it made a nice strong eggplant color. More affordable this time of year when berries aren't in season. Any suggestions for a nice green? I tried spinach but it just made a dirty brown water.
Adalei jkaraya1 year ago
This website has a big list of natural dyes, but a few of them aren't food-safe. There's also a bunch of suggestions in the comments!

http://www.pioneerthinking.com/crafts/crafts-basics/naturaldyes.html
Batness3 years ago
Interesting and great! I'd love to see a little more added to this 'Ible though. Like, could you show us a better photo of the different dyes and what they look like once added to the dough? I can't tell which dyes were used in which dough from the one photo. Also, it'd be nice if there were some additional directions on what to do with the dough/how to use it. Like can I bake this dough? If so at what temperature? Does it dry out easily? Does it stain fingers/countertops?
kate12345 (author)  Batness3 years ago
Hi batness, Have a look at my main photo. In the front row (running left to right) you can see a) undyed b) raspberry c) turmeric. In the second row back there is a) blueberry b) beetroot c) oak tree bark and d) a tiny peek of rose petal. As for colour intensity – its a bit hit and miss really. If in doubt make the colour as strong as you can. Then you can mix it with some undyed playdough to make the colour less intense! Generally speaking beetroot is a very strong colour so thats the only one I would be inclined to go easy with! You can make different kinds of playdough that you can bake but this one is meant to stay soft and is only for play! No - it doesn't dry out - as long as you store it in an airtight container. If it does get a little dry then simply knead in a teaspoon of water. Once made it lasts for ages. No need to keep it in fridge - the salt is a fantastic preserver. Once the dough is made I have experienced no problems with staining (having said that I wouldn't let my son wear a pristine white top whilst playing with it - but that also applies to regular playdough) When you are making the dough I would take the usual precautions - use a chopping board, wear an apron, avoid using your best saucepans etc. Having said that I used my best stainless steel pans and experienced no problems at all. If you are worried about staining just give your kids an undyed batch. My kids love it undyed because it looks like ‘proper’ pastry. :-)
Hmmn that's really interesting about the heating to combine... What is the purpose of that? Perhaps to unravel some of the gluten in the flour? when I was a kid we just mixed the flour, salt and water (with coloring or not) in a bowl. It would dry out eventually, but as you said it will rejuvinate with a little water unless you let it get too dry, then it's just easier to make more if you let it get dry enough to crumble into little rocks. However, the one thing I'm wondering is, you state in your comment above that this one isn't for baking, is it the salt/flour ratio or something that affects that or that you heated to combine? Because the stuff we made was remarkably similar (I don't remember exact proportions as it was a VERY long time ago) but didn't combine heated. This stuff turned into an extremely hard substance once baked. Have you tried baking your formula just to see what would happen?
Heating makes it more elastic. I'm not sure about the chemistry, but I've made both the standard salt clay you describe and this type, and the uncooked stuff can get pretty crumbly, but this mix is more plasticky in texture.
Not sure if this can be baked.
kate12345 (author)  mce1283 years ago
Hi MCE, i actually haven't tried baking it. I just presumed it wouldn't bake very well (or keep its shape). I'll give it a go and let you know.
That would be really nice! Thanks!
Anything that allows you a chance to work with natural dyes has got to be fun. I wanted to try this with some natural wool. Thanks for the tips
Remember that with wool you will need a mordant to set the dye, like salt or vinegar.
That is a great idea!  It looks yummy enough to eat and I bet it smells good too.  It reminds me of growing up with sheep.  My mom would die the wool with natural ingredients and it was really cool knowing that the colors were straight from nature.

Victoria Girard
Publisher, http://revealgreatskin.com
popina3 years ago
Love these recipe, want to try that..
Was wondering about the turmeric, does it stain cloths after it is mixted up w/the playdough?
OOOOHHHHH PREEEETTYYYY COLORSSSSS :D. One question though. how does this stuff smell? just curious. Also, I rated it 5*s :)
kate12345 (author)  NatureBoom213 years ago
Hi Nature boom - to be honest the dough doesn't really smell of anything. You can put a few drops of essential oil in if you want it to though. Thanks for the rating :)
grooooovy3 years ago
This is a new idea... pretty creative! Warning though, just in case, berry stains don't come out.
pyogazel3 years ago
Very nice colours, thank you for this instructable! I have a few suggestions for colours : curry powder for a yellowy green, matcha powder for light green black sesame paste for black. I don't make playdough anymore, I was tired of seeing the "work of art" laying around so now I make coloured cookie dough and we bake it : et voilà! edible colourful work of art :)
Puzzledd3 years ago
I used to make playdough in a saucepan, but if you use a microwave, you don't end up with messy saucepan and aching arms from stirring- just microwave in the (plastic) mixing bowl for 30 secs at a time, taking out and stirring, until it's a nice lump. I love the natural colours!
Rivil3 years ago
Is the pink dye actually raspberries - because the picture has strawberries. I would think that raspberries would give better colour, but the most i know about natural dyes is that lavender produces a red dye. i.e. dyes are often not what you'd expect.
kate12345 (author)  Rivil3 years ago
The pink dough in the main picture was produced just using raspberries. When I took more pictures for the instructable I used both. Very similar result but a little more red. You are right about the colour change. I made some with red cabbage (not pictured) - the water was blue /purple but it made bright pink playdough. Something to do with the solution reacting to the acidity/alkalinity in the cream of tartar/salt I think? Maybe a chemist can explain better than I can :-)
ansion3 years ago
Oh, yeah, and I color mine with 2 packs of Kool-Aid powder. It doesn't transfer either, after you've cooked it and mixed it up properly. Plus, it smells really good. We love smelly playdough.
ansion3 years ago
To answer the cooking question, this dough doesn't bake well. I've made it for years for my kids. It's the best for keeping and playing with, as it's a nice soft dough. But if you bake it, it will take HOURS to dry it out, and then it puffs up and the insides run out and you end up with a perfectly puffy hollow thing that resembles your original plan. But I always end up cutting off the excess that leaked out. I think it's something to do with the cream of tartar, but I'm no chemist. If you're planning to bake it, I'd suggest the old standby salt dough. If you're planning to bake it, I'd suggest the old standby salt dough.
lynnmillard3 years ago
The pdf is for LED throwies and not for the play dough dies.
kate12345 (author)  lynnmillard3 years ago
Hi Lynn, Try again - I just did and it seems fine. If you are still having problems then visit my site and you will be able to view all steps of the same page: http://www.minieco.co.uk/natural-dye-for-homemade-playdough/
HollyHarken3 years ago
The berry and rose ones must smell fantastic! How do you keep your kids from eating the dough?
kate12345 (author)  HollyHarken3 years ago
Hi Holly, To be honest the dough doesn't really smell that much. My kids are the kind of kids who are compelled to play dough of any kind - I just make sure I supervise them and give them a firm 'no' if they try to sneak a bit in their mouth!
TIP: Put in a whole tablespoon of oil rather than a half so it doesn't stick to the pan!
do you have to put in the cream of tartar, cos i dont have any
kate12345 (author)  cherishcherub3 years ago
It would be fine without. It just acts as an additional preserver.
ChrysN3 years ago
Nice, I like natural dyes. Watch that turmeric though that stuff really stains.