Kinetic sand (also known as “play sand”) has become all the rage in recent years as a less messy alternative to slime, and a more interesting option for older kids to play with than Play-Doh.
It can be used in all sorts of STEM activities and sensory play activities for kids ages 3 and up.
The soft, fluffy texture feels amazing and even many adults love to play with kinetic sand for stress relief and relaxation.
The best thing about kinetic sand is that it only sticks to itself, making it easy to clean up and perfect for sculpting and molding.
What you might not have realized is that you can make your own! With just a few ingredients and about 30 minutes of time, you can whip up your own batch of this popular and colorful sand.
Below, we’ve detailed one of the most popular recipes to teach you and your family how to make kinetic sand!
What is Kinetic Sand?
Kinetic sand is simply sand that has been coated with silicone oil for lubrication that rivals that of wet sand. Unlike wet sand (or Play-Doh), kinetic sand will never dry out or harden.
It is mess-free, hypoallergenic, and non-toxic, making it a great option for young children to play and experiment with.
In addition to being a fun educational toy, kinetic sand is a great therapeutic tool for kids who seek sensory input, experience anxiety, or enjoy fidget toys.
Commercial kinetic sand comes in a variety of colors including some with sparkles and even scents. If you’d like to make your own, there are several different DIY recipes to choose from.
DIY Kinetic Sand Ingredients
One of the most popular kinetic sand recipes is the one below, which features a small amount of slime and baby oil to help the sand retain its elastic, gooey texture without the use of silicone oil.
Kinetic sand can be made without these 2 ingredients, but it won’t be as close to the texture of commercial kinetic sand that you may be used to.
- Sand – 1 Cup (We recommend white craft sand)
- Dish Soap – ½ TSP
- Corn Starch – 1 TBSP (1 tablespoon)
- Water – ½ Cup
- Acrylic Paint or Food Coloring (Optional)
- Baby Oil
- Slime – 1 TSP (Click here for easy slime recipes)
Multiply measurements as needed for each batch; repeat as needed for each color.
You will also need 3 bowls: 1 large mixing bowl, and 2 smaller bowls for your wet and your dry ingredients.
Stirring spoons are a great help in the beginning stages, but many people find that they can mix the sand mixture much better with their hands as it begins to take shape.
How to Make Homemade Kinetic Sand
The process of making homemade kinetic sand is fairly simple, and your kids will have a blast helping you do it! The entire process should only take about 30 minutes from start to finish, not including an optional period of drying time in the end.
Here’s how you can get started!
- Gather your ingredients and make a small batch of slime if needed. (You can also buy some to save time – like this great non-toxic slime from Play-Doh)
- For an easy slime recipe, simply mix together 1 ounce of glue, 1/4 a cup of water, 1/4 a cup of Borax and stir until it reaches the consistency you are looking for. Set your slime mixture aside.
- Mix together your dry ingredients (corn starch and sand) in one of your small bowls. Start off with your sand and then add the corn starch into your sand and mix thoroughly. You will want to keep stirring until the mixture is fully integrated together. Once that’s done, set this mixture aside.
- Mix together your wet ingredients (water and dish soap) in a separate small mixing bowl. Do this by first filling your bowl with water and then stirring the dish soap into the water as best as you can. It’s ok if your dish soap does not fully absorb into the water at this point. You will be doing plenty of mixing later on! A great non-toxic dish soap to use is the free & clear variety by Seventh Generation.
- Place your slime mixture at the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Begin to add in your dry sand mixture a little at a time. Slowly add your wet mixture into your dry mixture, kneading and stirring as you go. This part may take a while, so patience is key. You don’t want to add your water too quickly. As you begin to mix your wet and dry mixture together with the slime, you will also add a small amount of baby oil as needed. If you wanted to add in a scent, you could mix together a few drops of essential oil into your baby oil first. (Lavender would be a great option for its therapeutic calming effect!)
- Continue this process as many times as needed in order to use up all your ingredients. You will keep kneading your sand together, slowly alternating the addition of a bit of your baby oil, a bit of your slime, a bit of your dry mixture, and a bit of your wet mixture. If at any time your sand becomes too wet, simply add more sand. Alternatively, if your sand becomes too dry, simply add more water. Once the mixture begins to feel crumbly, add in more slime and repeat the process. Keep alternating until you have the right consistency and texture for your kinetic sand.
- Add your food coloring, glitter, or acrylic paint of your choice. For a stronger hue, use more color, and for light pastel shades, try adding just a few drops. Mix together in your large bowl until the color is evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Start off conservatively with just a few drops, and if you are unhappy with the color, you can always add a few more drops. You can mix your sand by hand or with kitchen tools, but if you are mixing by hand you may want to wear gloves at this stage to prevent staining.
- Store & Play – Enjoy your kinetic sand! After the initial creation, you may want to let it sit for at least 30 minutes to settle and finish absorbing the color. Once you are done with sand play, be sure to store it in an airtight container for the best results.
If you skipped the addition of the baby oil and/or slime, the process will be the same as mixing your wet and dry ingredients together, just without these extra ingredients.
However, we highly recommend using one or both of these items if possible, in order to ensure that your play sand is just the right texture and that it does not dry out right away after using it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does kinetic sand dry out?
Commercial kinetic sand does not harden or dry out. However, many of the DIY recipes do eventually dry out. Depending on the recipe you use, your kinetic sand should last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The recipe in this article has been tested and proven to last longer than others.
Is kinetic sand toxic?
Commercial kinetic sand is non-toxic and although you should never ingest it purposely, your child will be OK if they accidentally do. According to the U.S. Poison Control Center, “kinetic sand won’t poison a person if they eat it” but “it does pose a choking hazard, and if large amounts are eaten it can cause constipation”.
DIY kinetic sand recipes may contain other ingredients such as dish soap, baking soda, or paint, so special care should be taken to ensure your child does not consume the sand by accident.
How to store kinetic sand?
The best way to store your kinetic sand is in an airtight container like a Ziploc bag or a Tupperware bin. This will help your homemade sand last longer and not dry out.
Special portable trays for kinetic sand like this one from Amazon are a great storage option as well. Remember to store your different colored sand to prevent unwanted color mixing!
Can kinetic sand get wet?
If kinetic sand gets wet, it may get a little bit sticky. However, you can easily spread it out flat to dry and the water will evaporate after a while.
Kinetic sand should return to its original texture within a few hours. On the other hand, if you are making your own kinetic sand recipe and it gets too wet, you may have to add some more sand to counteract the excessive moisture in your sand.
Is kinetic sand magnetic?
Kinetic sand is not magnetic by default. If you were to use natural beach sand for your kinetic sand recipe, you may be able to experience some mild magnetic properties due to the mineral content (iron ore) in the sand.
What can be done with kinetic sand?
There are tons of things that can be done with a batch of kinetic sand. You are only limited by your creativity and your imagination! Kids can play with kinetic sand much as they would play with Play-Doh or wet sand at the beach! This means that they can shape it, slice it, cut it, mix it, and even draw in it!
Kids love to use kinetic sand in a sensory bin with other toys such as dinosaurs or toy cars. You could hide small objects in the sand for them and make a treasure hunt.
Kids can also use their beach toys, Play-Doh molds, and other fun accessories to enhance their experience with kinetic sand.
Over to You!
It may seem like such a simple concept, but learning how to make kinetic sand can provide many hours of sensory fun.
Whether you buy a few packs of play sand or make your own, there is no shortage of the fun that can be had with these stretchy, fluffy bundles of sensory magic.
With this simple and easy kinetic sand recipe above, your kids will not only get to play with kinetic sand, but they will get to learn how to make kinetic sand as well!
Kinetic sand is a great STEM activity, a fun toy for a rainy day, and a soothing sensory play activity for both kids and adults.
We’d love to hear from you! Have you ever made your own kinetic sand? Is there a recipe you have found that you enjoy better than the one above? Let us know in the comments below.