Homemade Air-Dry Modelling Clay {aka baking soda clay}

Homemade Modelling Clay | Mama Papa Bubba

Several years ago, we discovered the beauty that is baking soda clay during one of our annual Christmas ornament crafting sessions.  Since then, baking soda clay ornaments have become a regular occurrence in our house – and not only for Christmas either!  We’ve used the homemade modelling clay for all kinds of projects, and this year we’re using it for two new ones – something spring-themed and something Easter themed {so stay tuned for those!}  In the meantime, if you’ve not used it before, I’d highly recommend giving it a try.  It requires only 3 very basic kitchen ingredients, it can be used for all sorts of projects, and it air dries in a couple of days time.   

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We’ve experimented with several variations in the recipe over the years {and even made a gingerbread version!}, and truthfully, it has always turned out.  That being said, all of our variations have consisted of three main ingredients – cornstarch {aka cornflour on the other side of the world}, baking soda {also known as bicarbonate of soda or soda bicarb – baking powder will not work!!}, and water, and there is a recipe we use more often than any others, only because it’s really easy to remember.

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To make the clay, simply measure out the ingredients into a medium-sized pot and turn the element on to medium {or medium-low} heat, then stir pretty much constantly.

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As the mixture heats up, it’ll begin to thicken.  What you want is for it to reach a mashed or whipped potato consistency…  Keep stirring and turning the mixture over onto itself until you reach this point and then take it off the heat immediately.  {Two things to note – you should not have any extra water floating around in the bottom of the pot when done, and if you were going to err on the wetter or drier side of things, I’d err on the wetter side as a drier dough does seem to crack more often during the drying process.}

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Allow the mixture to cool in the pot for a few minutes or until you’re able to handle it without burning yourself.  When you’re able, dump the contents of the pot out onto a clean countertop, form it into a quick ball, and wrap the ball in a damp dishtowel or cloth.

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Allow it to cool this way for about 15 minutes or so.

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When it’s sufficiently cooled, unwrap the baking soda clay and give it a good knead.  This will make the dough nice and smooth and take away any residual stickiness.

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Now you’re ready to create!  You can use your clay to make next to anything, but here are a few things we’ve learned over the years…

1) When not in use, excess dough should be wrapped in a damp towel to keep it from drying out before you want it to.

2.  Thicker pieces tend to crack more during the drying process, so try to keep your creations on the thinner side if possible.  We usually aim for somewhere in the 0.75 – 1 centimetre thick range.

3.  Parchment paper is your friend!  Because baking soda clay is a lot softer than store-bought modelling clay, it can be a little bit more fragile.  Placing a piece of parchment paper on either side of the clay while rolling it out really helps!

4.  You want the drying process to be sloooow to avoid cracking.  In other words, air drying is best, and somewhere away from a heat source is optimal.  In Kuwait, where the weather is hot and there’s always a very steady flow of a/c, we’d cover our tray of ornaments with a just barely damp towel to slow the drying process down.  Gently flipping the ornaments over every now and then helps too.

5.  After your pieces are dry, they can be decorated almost any way you please!  We’ve painted ours with acrylics and watercolours, we’ve covered them with glue and dunked them in glitter, we’ve decorated them with markers and Sharpies, and we’ve glued embellishments onto them.  Anything goes!

Alright, now time for the recipe…

Homemade Air-Dry Modelling Clay {aka baking soda clay}

  • 2 cups of baking soda
  • 1 cup of cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups of water

Place all ingredients into a pot over medium heat.  Stir the mixture almost constantly, until it thickens and becomes the consistency of whipped mashed potatoes.  Let cool and then knead until smooth and no longer sticky.  Done!  Now create!


Need some ideas?  Here are a few of our favourite baking soda clay projects from years past…


handprint keepsakes


clay monogram ornaments


fingerprint heart ornaments



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55 thoughts on “Homemade Air-Dry Modelling Clay {aka baking soda clay}

  1. I can’t wait to make this! I made the handmade soap, but i only had soy oil. I found that i just had to use a little more and it worked perfectly! Must do it with the girls at school!
    Love your ideas! They always work!

  2. I’ve used your recipe before and it’s the bomb!!! I love using air dry clay even more than play dough as I love the fact you can make it into things that can be kept and given away!

  3. can you make a round sphere using an upside down metal mixing pan as a template. What would I use so it doesn’t stick to the pan, when it dries and I want to separate it from the bowl.

    1. Put plastic wrap between the bowl and the clay. Once it’s dry you should be able to remove it and peel the plastic wrap off.

  4. It worked very well, but it does get crumbly and start to fall apart after a while. It may have been because I had a fan on, but the petals of the flower I was making started to crumble after I made them. Other than that, it was awesome!

    1. Mine was slightly crumbly.. so when I was kneading it I worked in some clear glue.. which made it great.. I added the glue in hopes of slowing or do away with cracking … it’s almost 24 hrs. Most pieces cracked… this is the second time.. I made thin pieces… it didn’t seem to matter.. how ppl says it last forever Idk..
      Good lucks

  5. Oooooooh man. I spent money on corn starch. I printed the recipe and instructions. Followed everything to a T. When drying to mold my dough into shapes it kept sticking to everything, so no flat shapes could be made, and anytime I’d bend a piece the slightest bit, it would break in half like a cookie.
    Not pleased. Kiddo was disappointed and cried. I put three lumps out to dry but I have a feeling once they do, they’ll just shatter as soon as I try to pick them up.
    I’d love a better recipe cuz this sounds like such an awesome craft project, but unfortunately this one just didn’t do it for me :(

    1. Using corn starch in your hands or dusting like it’s cookie dough helps from sticking. I think the timing of cooking it varies so if you pull early it sticks. I prefer it to stick and slowly dust with corn starch to get it where I like. Also the thicker the more it cracks. Baking also cracked mine more.

    2. Maybe cuz what you where trying to do was not for the clay or to much for the clay, or a much more clear theory that u followed the recipe wrong. dat all just maybe make another, much more a esire and informative

  6. Would I be able to press some moss onto the clay while it’s still fresh and have it stick still once dry?

  7. I made it and wrapped it in plastic then in a zip lock bag so when I go see my grand daughters ina coupld of days I hope I can do hand or foot prints… I didn’t see anything about making ahead ans storing…But I have a long drive for the visit and need it ready to go….

    1. Hi Julie! Let us know how it goes… I wouldn’t usually recommend making baking soda clay ahead of time as it dries really quickly and it can be a bit finicky to begin with, but my fingers are crossed for you!!

  8. Thank you to share the recepie I have daycare and I’mgoing to be a grandma in March and it’s the first grandchild for us. I will do it with the girls for this Christmas.😀😀

  9. I’ve made this the first time couple of weeks ago, tripled the recipe for my large class, approximately 21 kids. I only had enough for about 14 kids. The dough was perfect! Followed everything on the directions – I put the dough in a container and put damp tea towel over it. Then while still cooling, I fit the lid over the large container with the towel overnight. The next day, it was ready to be rolled out and came out perfect! Wish I had pics right now.

    Then I made another 2 batches for 6. It came out a bit cracked while drying. I’m worried that it’ll crack more.. I’ll find out tomorrow when I go into work. The only thing diff I did here was that I didn’t put in a container and placed the damp towel over the bowl. Should’ve put it in an air container..

    Def loved the recipe. My other colleagues did salt dough recipe and I’m super mine looked cleaner!

  10. I havent used this . i work with salt dough and its fairly easy to work with but you have to bake it or put it somewher where it can dry undusturbed

  11. For anyone asking about making ahead, I made 4 batches yesterday for Bible School today. I put each batch in a quart freezer bag, eliminated the air, and refrigerated. When I got to church today the dough was crumbly and still cold. I kneaded each batch a bit and flattened it into an aluminum pie pan with wet paper towels under and over it then sealed it with plastic wrap. At time for class, each pan was perfect, moist and pliable.

  12. This recipe worked great. I made a half batch and then once cool enough split it into 6 and coloured the dough with food colouring. Only 2 of our shapes cracked and the rest dried perfectly.

  13. I made this twice now for baby hand prints and it worked out fantastic, no cracking at all. I’m looking forward to painting the prints in a few days when it is fully dried out but so far two days have passed and it looks great!!!

  14. Hi! I tried this recipe last year in Oct for a kiddo I watch. He loves Halloween, so we made Zombie heads, skulls, and witch hats. They came out perfect! They were 3-D, so very thick little figurine type statues, and only minimal cracking on the bottom in a few places. After 4 days we painted them. He still has them and they are perfect! We are planning to do this again very soon, so I had to hunt the recipe down again! We followed the instructions and had zero issues. We live in San Antonio, TX.

    1. Omg making this just led to burned powder on the bottom of my pot. There’s no way this little liquid can combine 3c wet ingredients. What a waste of materials.

      1. I’m sorry it didn’t turn out for you, Micki! I wonder if you mixed up the ingredients… It should be 3 cups of dry to 1.25 of wet and the dry ingredients (baking soda and cornstarch almost melt in water). As for the burning part, consistent stirring is really key… Or maybe your stove runs hot? It really shouldn’t burn.

  15. So. I love this recipe – when it comes out correctly it’s smooth and acts and feels exactly like play-doh. I’ve made Easter and Christmas ornaments, both thin and thicker, and they come out really well. You can add glitter, food coloring or even essential oils to the dough. HOWEVER, I’ve had one batch that I made using a different/cheaper baking soda and the dough turned out very crumbly and impossible to work with. I’m assuming it was because of the baking soda, as it’s the only thing I changed, but perhaps someone else has a different idea?

  16. This is so helpful. I teach kids online and because of closures some of my students have had a hard time getting craft materials. I have directed them to your webpage to use this recipe! I am putting together a downloadable pdf craft that uses air dry clay, would you mind if I included this page as a link on the pdf? Thanks so much!

  17. If an hand ornament got cracked, could you potentially cook it back down with some water and start over with the process?

  18. HI! Thank you for the recepie. Teacher question: How many hands can be made from one recepie serving? I teach second grade and have 24 studetns. I am trying to see how much supplies I would need to buy to have all students make a hand ornament. THANK YOU!!!

  19. i made this clay to make some anime characters to decorate my room.when i did this it was super smooth and it gave me satisfy.i handled it very carefully so it didn’t crack.i even taught this to my friend.but she had some cracking problems and failures.but then i made a clay for her.no she is playing with the clay so happy.and thank you for this website creator🙇‍♂️😁^_^

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