How to make your own Kinetic Sand and save big!
Sensory sands, like Kinetic Sand and Moon Sand, are a lot of fun for kids of all ages. They can be very pricey though! A 2 lb. box of Kinetic Sand on Amazon costs around $15! An 11 lb. box costs $40! With just a few ingredients – some you may already have on hand – you can make your own batch for a fraction of the cost. And you can choose to make a small batch or a big one for very little difference in cost.
After spending $5 on a bag of sand and cornstarch (I had Dawn, Melaleuca Oil, and a container on hand) I made a batch weighing about 10 pounds, and I have lots of sand still on hand for more batches. Such a bargain!
- 5 to 7 cups of play sand (the finer the grain the better)
- Container for mixing and storage
- 1 to 1.5 cups cornstarch
- 1/2 Tablespoon (or 1.5 teaspoons) of Dawn Dish Soap
- 3-5 drops of Tea Tree (Melaleuca) Oil
On a hard surface floor (or outside if the weather in nice) pour 5 cups of play sand into the bottom of a container. You can see that my sand was very wet. I was literally dripping water as I carried it in my house. Sand is usually kept outside at the stores, so depending on your local weather, it may be quite wet or it may be just moist. Be aware of the moisture content of your sand as we continue. If your sand is too wet, the cornstarch may get a little goopey before it has the chance to mix in with the sand. If your sand needs to dry out a little, spread it out in the container and give a few hours (or a day) to dry.
Begin mixing it all together. I started with a big kitchen spoon, but ended up just rolling up my sleeves and going for it. It was really soft! If you have an cornstarch clumps, pinch them between your fingers and rub them in with the sand. My sand was still a little wet, so it took a few minutes to get all the cornstarch blended. By the end, I could pull the sand mixture into one large mound.
You can see that after spreading the sand mixture out evenly, all my hands needed were a light brushing before being fairly clean. No sloppy, wet sand here. That is a good indication the moisture level is right.
*You may have noticed the varying amounts of sand and cornstarch in the supply list above. That is because I had to troubleshoot a little to get the right consistency. I share it with you so that you can also know how to make any needed adjustments as you go. From all of my reading on making your own sensory sands, everyone’s experience is a little different – probably because no two areas are going to have the same sand grain with the same existing water content. You might have to play with the ratios a little bit, but hey – playing with the sand is what this post is all about.
My sand was already at a good consistency with moisture, but I hadn’t added the dish soap or Tea Tree Oil yet. This is what caused my need for some troubleshooting. I couldn’t leave those ingredients out, and I couldn’t add them in without some water to help it blend well. They are important ingredients. The soap helps the sand from sticking to your hands (think of it’s de-greasing powers) and it smells nice. The Tea Tree (Melaleuca) Oil has an antibacterial quality that will help keep your sand and cornstarch from going bad. Tea Tree Oil smells a little mossy, so if you don’t like the smell you can opt for Lemon Oil or Orange Oil instead. I mixed a 1/2 Tablespoon (or 1.5 teaspoons) of the dish soap and 5 drops of Melaleuca Oil with 1/2 cup of water. Just pour it over the top and mix it with the sand.
You can see that my sand mixture was smooth, but way too wet. I had fun making a hand print, and the added dish soap made a difference with my hand staying clean in spite of all that water. Normally wet sand is very difficult to brush off. I was already impressed! To fix the moisture context, I mixed another 2 cups of sand with another 1/2 cup of cornstarch. I worked that into the wet sand mixture and it immediately improved.
I let the sand sit out for a few more hours. It dried slightly and was a great consistency. The nice thing about making Kinetic Sand is you can always adjust by adding a little more sand/cornstarch mixture, or a little more water and soap, or just by letting it sit and dry for a bit. Once you have it how you like it, store it with an air-tight lid to keep that moisture in, and to keep it from spilling in your home. It was fun to mold and feel the soft texture in my hands. I don’t think it holds shapes quite as well as some manufactured sensory sands, but it’s unique texture is fun to play with and holds a shape much better than regular sand, wet or dry.
I hope you have fun making and playing with your own Kinetic Sand! Enjoy!