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Homemade Paint | How to Make Paint

Making your own homemade paint with kids is a rewarding process that helps children understand that store-bought is not the only way! Using a combination of salt, flour, and water, this recipe is beyond simple.

Homemade Paint | Salt + Flour + Water | Easiest Paint Recipe Ever!

How we made homemade paint

My toddler is at that stage where she loves squeezing paint out of the bottles. I gave into this to give her the chance to explore this phenomena, but after using an inordinate amount of paint in the process, I thought it might be more frugal to make a batch of homemade salt and flour paint for more economical squeeze painting.

This homemade paint recipe is simple, non-toxic, and it costs next to nothing to make. Not to mention it’s pretty rewarding to make your own art materials. I made these while my daughter was napping, but next time I’ll include her in the process. The following recipe makes enough paint to fill 3 2 ounce bottles (affiliate).

Keep in mind that this paint is perfect for exploring the process of painting, but it’s not great for creating a masterpiece to hang above the mantle. In essence, it’s not a tempera or acrylic paint replacement!

Homemade Paint | Salt + Flour + Water | Easiest Paint Recipe Ever!

Recipe for Homemade Salt and Flour Paint

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup water

Blend 1/2 cup of flour with 1/2 cup of salt. Add 1/2 cup of water…

Homemade Paint | Salt + Flour + Water | Easiest Paint Recipe Ever!

and mix until smooth.

Homemade Paint | Salt + Flour + Water | Easiest Paint Recipe Ever!

Divide it up into three sandwich bags and add a few drops of liquid watercolor or food coloring to each bag.

Homemade Paint | Salt + Flour + Water | Easiest Paint Recipe Ever!

Squish them up until the “paint” is well blended. Use Ziplock bags if small children are helping with this step. Add more water if you’d like a thinner paint. Cut a corner off the baggie and squeeze the paint mixture into your squeeze bottle.

Homemade Paint | Salt + Flour + Water | Easiest Paint Recipe Ever!

This homemade paint came out pretty thick, and was a little hard to squeeze. Next time we’ll dilute it with a bit more water. The good news is that the paint dries quickly. The squeeze paintings we made with regular tempera paint (2 days ago) are still wet, while these are already completely dry! And they have a nice puffy, sparkly texture too!

If you’re looking for a smooth paint (like tempera from the art store), this paint may be disappointing. Because of the salt, it will have a grainy texture to it, which makes it great for squeezing and not so good for painting with a brush

.Homemade Paint | Salt + Flour + Water | Easiest Paint Recipe Ever!

A question for you:

What’s your favorite kind of paint and/or painting process?

More homemade art and paint recipes

Our favorite toddler art recipe homemade playdough. It’s easy to make, non-toxic, and inexpensive. This recipe has been successfully used thousands of times.

More Art Projects for Toddlers

12 Simple Art Projects for Toddlers | TinkerLab.com
For more toddler art projects, you may enjoy the easy-to-set-up activities that use mainly everyday materials in 12 Simple Art Projects for Toddlers.

103 Comments

  1. Love the idea! And the fact that it is quick drying too. I’ll definitely try it out!

  2. thank you Rachelle!! Simone and I did this project and it worked out great. we painted on paper plates and created a mobile.
    I’ll definately do this again.

    • I’m soooo happy to hear that this was a winner for you girls. I love the mobile idea, and I’m sure that N would love to do that too. Thanks for the good idea.

  3. WOW. I love this site. The photography is incredible. Now if I could only get my mom off her ass so I could actually do these projects!

    • Glad you’re here, Lily. It’s possible that your mom needs a little break. If you think she’s truly slacking, I have a couple thoughts…you could try emailing her a link to the site, or Sharpie up some walls which will prompt her to organize some art projects for you. Let me know how it goes!

  4. i LOVE this and so will my 4 YO. just found you from the artful parent (loved the interview). i’m thrilled to have both of your blogs as the creative inspiration i so desperately need. thank you!!

    • Susan! I’m so glad you found us. Jean’s site is an inspiration to me too — one can never have enough ideas!

  5. we call this puff paint at my school and use it on large paper, folding the paper in half, then asking what do you see??

    we usually pre-fold the paper

    the kids get to fold it after they put the paint on and they really like being able to rub/squish the paper and then open it back up

    • oh, this is like making butterflies! what a good way to use these paints…adding that to the list!

  6. My toddler is into squeezing things right now so we’ll have to try this sometime soon! Thanks for sharing this and so much more on your blog!

    • It’s such a pleasure! And thanks for taking a moment to share a comment — it’s so appreciated!

        • Hi Lyn, I don’t this this paint will work with silk screen. Best to use paint designed for that purpose. Good luck!

  7. Thanks for the wonderful ideas! We have a 2 year old boy and I’ve been looking for activities to do with him. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your site. =)

    • Thanks for the nice note, Aimee, and welcome!! I’m so glad that you’re here 🙂

  8. We just did this project today! It was so much fun! You are so creative! Thank you! I had bought ketchup and mustard squeeze bottles at the Dollar store. We didn’t split the mix up and just made 6 different ones. (there were 7 kids doing it) It was perfect and they had so much fun!

  9. Thanks for this paint recipe! I wanted to plan a project for my preschoolers that involved “drip” decorating on letter d’s and this paint works perfectly when it’s a little watered down. They had a great time with this activity!

  10. Hello,
    I love this idea and I want to try it for texturing paper. Does it stick to the paper well? Will not it peel off soon?

    Thanks

    Romana

  11. Hi,

    Great paint! I was wondering if the water is meant to be hot though, to disolve the salt?

  12. You have a great website! I’m excited to try this. I’m trying to make raised letters on canvas, and I think that if I pipe this, it’ll do just the trick! We’ll find out tomorrow!

    Thanks,
    Hailey

  13. May I just ask..why do you need to put salt in the mixture?? what is it’s purpose?? –school purposes..

    • Hi Faye,
      The salt makes the flour more elastic and keeps the mixture from turning into rock-hard clay. We’ve played with just flour and water in the past, and it can be a nightmare to clean up if it begins to dry.
      Rachelle

  14. I am looking for a make your own paint for Blow Painting with Straws for a children’s craft table for the 4th of July. Do you think if I add a little more water this would work for this?

    • Hi Cindy,

      That sounds like a fun activity. I think it would be too thick, but you might want to check out this post the I wrote on making paint to blow. https://tinkerlab.com/straw-blown-watercolor-painting/

      You can quickly make the paint with a mixture of liquid watercolors or homemade dyes (if you want to really make your own paint) and water. I hope that helps!

      Rachelle

  15. Great info. I am sure my two and. A half year old grandaughter will try and paint. Everything in sight. Does it wash off easily or does it stain?

    • The watercolors we used were washable, so they would temporarily color the skin and clothes — both washed away without staining. However, I wouldn’t let these paints near furniture. Keep it outdoors if you’re not sure.

  16. I was wondering if this is safe as face paint as well. I’ve just mixed a whole batch up and suddenly it dawned on me that it might not be ok to paint on skin.

    • Hi Stacy,
      Well, salt is generally good for the skin (think salt scrubs, salt soaks, and swimming in the salty ocean). However, table salt doesn’t have a lot of healing qualities to it. I doubt that it would be harmful, but it might be irritating to the sensitive face skin. I haven’t tested it myself and can’t say for certain. Sorry I can’t be of more help.
      Rachelle

    • We didn’t have a problem with this, but you’ll want to test your liquid watercolors or food coloring ahead of time if possible. The watercolors we used were washable, so they would temporarily stain skin and clothes — both washed out.

  17. I’ve made this a couple of times for two sets of granchildren -= at different times. I noticed that if you leave the paint in the bottle, the water separates from the flour/salt mixture.

    And i like the fact that when it dries, the salt gives it some dimension… !!!!

  18. What happens if we don’t use it all? Can we re use it or do we have to make more? I love it.

    • You can try shaking the bottle up to re-blend it and then use it again. If you’re not planning to use it in a couple days, try putting it in the fridge so that it doesn’t grow mold.

  19. Is it supposed to be so gritty? I like the idea, but when I tried it, the salt made it so gritty. =/

  20. I made a HUGE batch of this, ten 8 oz bottles, and we had a great time doing it. It’s so gritty though! Is there anything I can do now to dissolve the salt? Also, how long does it last?
    Thanks

    • Wow – so fun! The salt makes it gritty, and I don’t believe there’s much you can do about that. I haven’t tried putting it in the blender, but maybe that would help?

    • Hello Sabrina,
      Dissolving the salt in some water first, should make it not gritty. HOWEVER: I’ve not tried ANY of these recipes myself, so I don’t know if it would ALSO ruin the desired texture; or other properties.

  21. My paint was very grainy, you can see the salt on the paper, did I just not stir it enough? Let it sit longer before using??

    • It’s a grainy paint. I updated the post to make this point more clear – thank you for your comment, Jessica!

    • I would use it within 3 days, and then put it in the fridge if you want to keep it longer (to avoid mold). I haven’t tried that myself, but it’s worth a try!

  22. I love this recipe for flour paint because it isn’t toxic like most other paints and I wanted to use it on fabrics, What kind of solvent would you recommend to make it water resistant?

  23. Hello, this sounds wonderful and I am so glad for stumbling across it! Does it dry solid, or flake off? I am a nanny and have found that some of the recipes I use for homemade paints tend to flake off or do not work for things such as wind chimes because it’s a sticky consistency even after it ‘dries’.

    • Hi Heather: In my experience it dries solid and won’t flake off, but I wouldn’t recommend using this in place of acrylics or tempera paint as the quality is very different. It’s a great paint, however, for squeezing and process-based art projects with toddlers and preschoolers. Does that help?

  24. I am think of making this for my daughters 9th bithday and using itt for a paint fight. Would it was out nice and does it stain??

  25. What about painting the paint on rocks.(the salt,flour,water paint)?
    Would it work?
    Can’t wait to try it.

    • Hi Janice, I would work as a temporary painting, but I imagine that it would eventually flake off, and maybe leave a stain of color behind. It could be worth trying!

  26. I tried it out with my little brother and he loved it we had extra so we put it into bags and we at going to give them to ours cousins So they can try it out .

  27. We’ve made flour/salt paint and used squeeze bottles from Daiso (the Japanese “dollar” store). You have to cut off the tip of the bottle cap yourself…which is great because if you want the paint to come out more easily (e.g. for toddlers) or thicker, you can cut the tip closer to the base of the cap and get a larger hole.

  28. […] Neon “water” balloon fight INGREDIENTS 2 cups cold water 3/4 cup corn starch 10 drops food coloring (I used neon) DIRECTIONS In a saucepan, combine ingredients Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, ONLY until you feel it thickening. It should take less than 2 minutes. Remove from heat immediately. Continue to stir and add water till desired thickness. It was easy to fill the water balloons directly from the spray bottle. tinkerlab.com/… […]

  29. I did not read all the comments, so hopefully I’m not repeating what someone else has said.
    Something I as well as the preschoolers I work with love to do is, dip yarn strands into paint and lay it on the paper, fold the paper, then pull out the yarn. It always looks so interesting. Similar to just folding the paper and squishing. Just adding another element. Thanks for the paint recipe! Have a wonderful day!

  30. How to make paint if you help me make paint i will be excited for what you did Infact I will give you 1,678,905 comment.Thanks love you sweetie.

    • It’s play paint and won’t stick to metal. Unless you’re interested in painting the bike for fun, and then washing it off.

  31. Wow thanks for creating this site and sharing with us , my grandkids and I will be putting it to test today . We are actually painting a wooden pallet in which we use to hold all the pool noodles. We will let u know how it turns out. I’m hoping the paint does not come off since it is for outdoors

    • Happy to share! It’s not a long-lasting paint, but more of a play paint. If you have the liquid watercolors (and they’re not washable), you could use them to stain the wood. Either way, have fun!

  32. I would suggest that the salt be diluted in warm tap water then cool it off and when cool start mixing the strained flour and add food colour. This will eliminate the grains.

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