Kinetic sand is moldable sand that holds its shape like clay. It’s expensive to buy, but easy to make. Here are several kinetic sand recipes and the pros and cons of each one.
What Is Kinetic Sand?
The type of kinetic sand that you can buy is a fine sand (silicon dioxide) coated with silicone oil. Silicone oil is a chain-like molecule called a polymer that contains the elements silicon and oxygen. You’ll find silicone oil in many common products, such as hair anti-frizz gel, treadmill oil, diaper rash cream, and cosmetics. It goes by a variety of names, including dimethicone and polydimethylsiloxane. You can buy silicone in pure form, but be aware there are different weights and formulas.
How Kinetic Sand Works
Silicone oil is the “magic” in magic sand. It doesn’t stick to hands and surfaces, but it seeps into tiny crevices in sand. Its high viscosity helps hand stick, yet flow. One homemade recipes for kinetic sand uses silicone, but the other recipes are adaptations of slime and oobleck recipes. Here too, the other ingredients stick sand particles together and have high viscosity, making the sand moldable.
How to Make Kinetic Sand
There are many, many kinetic sand recipes! There is the classic version, similar to what you buy in a store. There are variations that are more like moon sand or slime. There are even non-toxic and edible kinetic sand recipes.
Kinetic Sand Made With Silicone
You only need two ingredients to make kinetic sand with silicone. This is the homemade version of the commercial stuff.
- Fine play sand or craft sand
- Dimethicone (silicone oil)
- Make certain the sand is completely dry. Either spread it on a pan and let it dry overnight or bake it in an oven for a couple of hours to drive off the water. If you bake the sand, let it cool before proceeding.
- The best ratio is 2 grams of dimethicone per 100 grams of sand (20 grams dimethicone per kilogram of sand), but you don’t actually need to measure the ingredients. Simply work a few drops of the silicone oil into the sand. If the sand doesn’t stick together, add a bit more until you get the desired consistency.
- Use cookie cutters, sandbox toys, or a bread knife to shape the sand. Store it in a sealed bag or container after use. It won’t dry out, but it will pick up dust.
Use the finest sand you can find. The recipe works best with uncolored sand because the particles are rougher, but feel free to experiment with colored sand. You can add food coloring, but it will stain hands and surfaces. Powdered tempera paint works better than food coloring.
The best dimethicone is dimethicone 500, which is sold as a treadmill oil online. However, other products work, such as personal lubricant or anti-frizz gel for hair. Just check the label to make sure the product contains dimethicone or silicone oil.
The difference between homemade kinetic sand and the commercial product is the size of the sand particles. The stuff you buy in a store uses very fine sand, so it has a smooth texture.
Kinetic Sand Made With Corn Starch
This recipe produces a kinetic sand that is smoother and softer than regular kinetic sand. It feels slightly damp and is easy to mold.
- 2 cups fine sand
- 2 cups corn starch
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid (optional)
- 1 teaspoon tea tree oil (optional)
- 1 cup water
- Mix together the corn starch and half of the water. Basically, this is oobleck.
- Mix in the sand and more water to get the desired consistency.
- If desired, add dishwashing liquid to improve the consistency of the kinetic sand.
- If desired, add a small amount of tea tree oil to help prevent mold and bacteria from growing.
- Store in a sealed container after use. Add more water if the kinetic sand dries out.
Non-toxic Edible Kinetic Sand
This kinetic sand recipe uses kitchen ingredients. It’s non-toxic and safe enough that it’s fine if young children get a bit in their mouths. Corn meal takes the place of sand, so the texture is a bit different from the regular product. The kinetic sand has a natural beachy color.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup corn meal
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (any kind)
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup
Mix together the ingredients. Because this recipe is meant for young explorers, who may be tempted to taste their creations, it’s best to make the kinetic sand fresh before each use.
Shaving Cream Kinetic Sand
It’s easy to make this kinetic sand. However, it has a limited working time. When it dries out, add a bit of water to revive it.
- 1 can shaving cream
- 1 bucket of sand
Mix together the ingredients and you’re done!
Starch and Glue Kinetic Sand Recipe
This kinetic sand recipe is perfect when you want sand creations to dry and last a bit.
- 1 cup colored sand
- 1 tablespoon clear school glue
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid starch
- 1/4 teaspoon dishwashing liquid or liquid soap
- Mix the glue, starch and soap. The result will be sticky.
- Mix in the sand, a spoonful at a time. Work the sand in with your hands once the mixture is too thick for a spoon.
- Store the kinetic sand in a sealed bag or other container. Add a bit of water if it becomes too dry.
Does Kinetic Sand Dry Out?
Kinetic sand made only with silicone does not dry out. Other kinetic sand recipes do dry out as water evaporates. It’s fine to add a bit of water to dry kinetic sand to make it pliable again.
Got leftover sand? You can use it to make waterproof magic sand!