Homemade Baking Soda Clay Ornaments Review – Does it Work?

2 out of 5 leaves

2 out of 5 leaves

Baking Soda Clay.  Have you seen this one pop up on Pinterest?  (Examples here, here, and here.)  With a simple combination of baking soda, corn starch and water, you can mix up a beautifully white, smooth, and soft batch of modeling clay.  You mold it or roll it, and then bake in the oven to completely dry it out.  It makes gorgeous clay bowls or Christmas decorations, or fun little critters in the hands of your kiddos.  Or does it?  Does homemade baking soda clay really work?

The Good:

  • Better for you – no weird chemicals here – just three ingredients you already have in your kitchen
  • Better for the earth – homemade means no packaging waste, no shipping trucks, etc
  • Saves money – the ingredients are super cheap – you can whip up a batch of this for less than a dollar
  • Easy – super duper easy to mix up and easy to work with too
  • Pretty – there’s something just gorgeous about snow white dough

The Bad:

  • Tends to crack and warp while drying
  • Very fragile, breaks, chips and crumbles easily
  • Dissolves when it contacts water

My Experience

Baking Soda + Corn Starch + Water = homemade modeling clay?

When I saw this recipe for homemade baking soda clay on Pinterest, I knew immediately that I wanted to try it.  The ingredient list was short and easy, and the mixing directions straightforward.  It was something I could do with the kiddos too, which is always a bonus for me.  I thought it would make great Christmas ornaments (and gifts) if we rolled it out and used cookie cutters to make Christmas-y shapes.

The recipe went together easily, just like the other bloggers promised it would (kind of like instant mashed potatoes).  We waited until it cooled and then rolled it out and cut it just like sugar cookie dough.  I dried the ornaments out in the oven, as instructed, and left them on a plate for about a week before we got around to painting them.  (Because as pretty as snow white ornaments are, when you’re a kid, painting them up is even better).

Pretty right? Just wait until the kids touch them…

When I pulled the unpainted ornaments out of their hiding place, I noticed immediately that a number of them had cracked or broken into pieces.  It seems that many had warped or curled as they dried, and just the weight of another ornament on top was enough to break the bottom layer.  So we lost about a quarter of the ornaments right off the bat.

As the kids were painting them, I realized how fragile these things really were.  We lost another quarter just by the kids handling them.  My little guys are 4 and 2, so they’re still working on perfecting gentle, but by no means were they crazy rough with them either.  I also noticed that any paintbrush water that got onto the ornaments started dissolving the clay after a few minutes.  I guess that oven drying time was only to dry, and not to cure, as I had hoped.

We got about half of them painted intact, optimistically set a few aside for gifts and hung the rest on the fresh Christmas tree.  A week later there are only two left on the tree (out of probably 25 that were originally rolled out).  It turns out that any drop onto the hardwood floor = broken ornament.  Even from a height of just a foot or two.  Also, a certain big brother jealous of his little sister’s gingerbread man ornament that inadvertently ended up looking like Spider Man may have found it a bit too easy to snap off said man’s arms and legs.  (Nothing like this ever happens at your house, right? 😉 )

Overall, this homemade baking soda clay was a Green Idea Fail.  It was easy to make and fun to work with, but did not dry well, or handle well when dry.  I would recommend it as a cheap easy recipe for children’s play clay, but not for any serious arts and crafts work.  I’m not sure if I mixed it up incorrectly, or rolled it too thick, or dried it too much, but this did not work for me.

Have you ever tried out homemade baking soda clay?  Did it work for you?  Or do you have a better recommendation for Christmas ornament clay?

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20 Responses to Homemade Baking Soda Clay Ornaments Review – Does it Work?

  1. dea says:

    mom made something like this for my brother and Me when we were kids. I think it had oil, salt and flour in it. It was too many years ago to remember, and Mom is gone now. We made ornaments for the tree, and they worked pretty well. Pretty much like biscuit dough without the leavening.

  2. Marilyn says:

    2 cups flour
    2cups water
    1 cup salt
    2 tabspoons oil
    1 tablespoon cream of tarter

    Cook on stove top until it pulls away frompot. m if still stcky, it needs to be cooked longer. This can have essential oils added and food coloring. This stuff is amazing. Roll it out, cut with cookie cutters, dry….I did it in low oven…. Paint with orange shellac…these will look Exactly like cookies. Put hole in the topwith a straw prior to baking. Thesnlast indefinitely…Mine are over 25 yrs old!!

    • Victoria says:

      Perfect! This is exactly what I was looking for. This is also almost exactly the recipe I have for homemade playdough. I’ll have to try it out!

    • Jen oneal says:

      I can’t wait to try this what kind of oil do u use how long what temp did u bake them

    • Jen oneal says:

      These were the best recipe I’ve tried yet. they hardened really well, look good, a couple had a few issues but otherwise turned out great I got 61 ornaments out of this recipe of yours im taking them to my daughters class today to hand out…. I added lots of cinnamon to mine gives it a good smell plus there a nice brown color…..awesome recipe thanks so very much for sharing it

  3. Candice M says:

    I have texture/smell issues with playdough and salt dough so I made this for fall/halloween and it worked great for us! But I did make mine kinda thick. Of course then our upstairs toilet decided to crazy overflow and it came through the ceiling unto our ornaments…. that DID ruin them 🙂 LOL

  4. Joanna says:

    I used to just use salt dough to make decorations. They didn’t have the lovely white colour,more the natural dough colour of course. They last really well when painted, but they will need plenty of time to dry again. They then need a couple of coats of thin varnish – the sort that will soak in and not water based. The only downside to them is that I lost a lot of mine one very wet summer (and I mean wet, not just a bit damp), the salt then absorbed the moisture in the air and they crumbled, not all of them but many of them. Those that survived I still have and my kids have now grown up and left home and just starting to have babies themselves.

    Recipe for the modelling dough is
    1lb flour
    1lb salt
    Water, as required
    Mix and knead well. This dough is sticky and is good for modelling. It can be dried hard in a cool oven and painted

  5. Pingback: Removing Yellow Armpit Stains from Clothing with Dish Soap, Peroxide and Baking Soda Review – Does it Work? | Green Idea Reviews

  6. Hi Victoria,
    I really like this review. My son wanted to try something like this, I will make sure we do not use the baking soda one. We’ll try the salt dough recipe. Thanks so much for sharing at Wednesday’s Adorned From Above Blog Hop.
    This weeks party is live. Here is the link to the party
    Debi @ Adorned From Above
    Joye and Myrna @ The Busy Bee’s

  7. Kelly says:

    You do need to flip your air-dry ornaments a couple times a day for the first couple of days as they dry…otherwise, yes, they will curl and warp. I use a similar cornstarch clay recipe, and love the results. Don’t give up on cornstarch clay…it’s great stuff. Craft on!

    • Victoria says:

      Hey Kelly, Thanks for the tip. But even after drying flat are they still crumbly and super fragile? If dropped would they break? If so, I can’t recommend them for any home with children…

      • Kelly says:

        I let them dry for about a week…no less. Before they set completely, yes, they are fragile, so I touch them only to flip them. Mine aren’t fragile once they’re completely dry. No more fragile than most ornaments, at any rate. If I were to throw them on the floor, a corner might chip, as with any kind of ornament, but they aren’t at all crumbly. It takes some effort to snap one in half on purpose…I’d liken it to breaking a thick piece of peanut brittle. Also, I weigh my ingredients to make sure the proportions are correct. I’ve made many batches, and I still get the rare batch that doesn’t turn out great. Anyhow, good luck and thanks for your posts! 🙂

  8. Hello Victoria! I love how well planned out your blog is. I just wanted to let you know that recently I’ve been using Baking soda clay to create some childhood hero sculptures and what not. I’m not completely gentle with them and if they are not dried completely they do crack. I recently changed the way I dried them and found I had more luck. I have a 3 year old and a 9 month old . Of course my 9 month old doesn’t handle the creations but my son does, he’s not the most gentle, but he hasn’t broken any yet. Heres my advice

    Baking soda clay is finicky But if done right you shouldn’t have problems. My recipe is this
    1/4 cup of cornstarch
    1/4 cup of baking soda
    1/4 cup of water. Everything needs to be precise.

    Mix all ingredients over low medium heat until it thickens to clay pour into a bowl and continue folding with a spoon until texture is good. Store in ceran wrap.

    When you’re drying your product I find it’s best that if you’re cutting a flat kind of object like ornaments you make it a little thicker. When youre done preheat your oven to 350 F once heated turn the oven off and put your creation in and let it dry in a warm oven. Dries fast and I don’t get much warping but I also use an electric nail drill to file imperfections.

    If you’re planning on using water colors when coloring after creating the ball of thickened clay on the stove when you transfer to a bowl fold in 2 drops of your chosen scented essential oil 🙂

    While watercolors are cool walmart sells 55 c acrylic paint that is waterbased. Works very nicely. I always cover in either a matte or glossy clear finish just because I use glitters. I’ve made hair barrettes Necklaces and Ive had a lot of luck.

    Sorry that this was so long <3 With love Cherish

    • Victoria says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us Cherish! I’d love to see some of your hero sculptures!

  9. I love Mickey Mouse:) says:

    Does anyone know a type of modelling clay that you can make at home that doesn’t crack when made into very small things, I need to make some tiny little Vikings for a monopoly game they have to be about 15mm tall so it has to be pretty good

    Please reply quickly it is due on Monday the 7th of April 2014

  10. Shawn B says:

    How quickly does it dissolve in water? I’m looking for something that dissolves slowly.

  11. Pam Hollingsworth says:

    We made it using the same recipe you used. Put them flat in the dehydrator on low overnight. They are rock hard. If I try as hard as I can I can break one, but it’s difficult.

  12. Janean says:

    Has anyone had trouble with these getting moldy?

  13. kat says:

    Terrible we mixed it like it said it never got into modeling clay it would pat hard then if u laid it down it wold melt right before your eyes waste of tie and money junk save yourself science experiment by the clay