Play dough or Play-doh is a fun thing to play with for children, and you can make it at home using a few basic ingredients. The play dough you buy from the store might be toxic, and since kids have a tendency to taste everything they play with it is better to stick with safe, non-toxic play dough that you can make using common products found at home.
The basic ingredients used include:
Flour- 2 to 3 cups
Salt – 1 cup
Water (preferably warm) – 1 to 2 cups
Oil – 2 tablespoons
Cream of tartar (optional ingredient this makes the play dough more stretchy) – 1 tablespoon
You can use safe food coloring for different colors and perfumed oils if you do not like the small of flour. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour to it, and it too dry you can change the amount of water or oil. Desiccated coconut, cocoa, peppermint oil, Kool-aid are several other suggestions to make the texture and the smell of the dough more interesting.
Some recipes suggest cooking this mixture at low heat till it dries and has the consistency of store bought play dough. Other recipes suggest kneading it only, and by adjusting the water you add in it, the dough is dry enough to handle. Kneading it for some time makes the dough more soft and silky. Using more oil makes the dough softer and easier to handle and avoids the use of cream of tartar.
Once the basic dough is ready (dry and elastic), divide into pieces for coloring. Basically, make a section in the middle of the ball of dough, and add the food coloring into. Then knead it again so that the dough is uniformly colored. You might have to be carful with the color as it might stain your hands and the surface you are working on. So wear gloves, and use a piece of foil or cloth to protect the surface you are working on.
Store the play dough in an air tight container. If it gets dry you can use a little bit of water to make it pliable again. If it gets too hard, and tough to play with, its time to make new play dough. Supervise your children when they are handling play dough. Although it is made from ingredients at home, it contains a lot of salt and if stored for a long time fungus or bacteria might grow in it. To prevent microbial growth, it is suggested that you add one tablespoon of alum that acts as a preservative. It makes the play dough unpalatable for children and lasts longer.