With the cooler days of fall upon us, along with school breaks finding kids at home saying “I’m booooored!” I thought doing a play dough comparison would be fun. I don’t really know the specifics of what traditional Play Doh is made of, I believe its a proprietary recipe but the day glow colors make me wonder just what the heck my kid is playing with. Not to mention might possibly be eating. You know they all taste it once right?
So I went on a hunt for all the retail versions of natural alternatives that disclose their ingredients and possibly use safer ones. And we have a home recipe too for those that want to save a few pennies. When possible I had my 3 year old son play with each brand for a week or so to give each one a fair test. We rated them on things like pliability, texture, smell, color, price and fun factor… so now on to the showdown:
Mary’s Soft Dough
We tested Mary’s first and had a good time with it. Mary’s Soft Dough most closely resembles the texture and feel of traditional Play Doh. The colors are bright and rich, yet not day glow. She has a wide variety of colors available in 1 ounce tubs or a larger rainbow tub (my fav), which we had that includes the traditional colors, red, yellow, blue, green and purple. Most of the traditional dough is unscented but has a doughy salty smell that isn’t overpowering or weird. They also carry scented dough as well ranging from lavender to bubble gum.
This dough lasts a long time with proper storage and was durable with repeated play time. The dough didn’t dry out unless left out too long. The plastic tubs keep the dough sealed air tight to help keep them preserved. They have play sets that include a wooden rolling pin and small “cookie cutters” that made this a bit more fun.
Mary’s Soft Dough uses a basic recipe and while some of their products use regular food coloring and synthetic scents (bubble gum isn’t from nature is it?) They do have naturally scented doughs available as well which include lavender, Lemon, Orange, Peppermint, Rose and Vanilla. But overall this dough had one of the best performances during our playtime than the others.
Prices: Large Single color tubs (1lb 2oz) and Rainbow Tubs are $9.95. Small Single color Tubs (4oz) are $3.35
Get It: TerrapinToys.com
eco-kids Natural Plant Dye Modeling Dough
eco-kids carries a line of natural art supplies and craft projects that have a number of positive characteristics. They are all made in the USA, they don’t use synthetic dyes, instead opting for plant, vegetable and fruit extracts to color their products. They use essential oils to keep the dough soft and pliable (and smelling pleasant!).
These doughs are fun to play with and kept my son busy. Proper storage is essential with natural dough or they dry out pretty quickly. They smell nice and although they can get a little sticky after a while, they get the job done because let’s face it, how long can a kid play with dough before they get bored.
I like this company and their products, in fact I use their wonderful eco-egg coloring kits at Easter-time and they come out beautiful!
Prices: about $17-20.00 | Gluten Free version $30
Clementine Organic Play Dough
I was excited to try Clementine Organic Play Dough because of it’s organic nature. We got a full play kit that includes 6 1 ounce jars of yummy scented dough and a few tools to play with including a bumpy rolling pin and some shape hammers all made of wood. The tools make things fun and stray from the normal cookie cutter alternative.
The kit provides you with 6 4ounce jars of naturally tinted dough ranging from a lime green to a deeper pink/red color. All the dough is made from natural ingredients and contains organic flour. The tints are made from natural vegetable extracts. My favorite part? The scents! Each color is scented with natural extracts and include lime, orange, strawberry, grape and lemon. And they all smell divine.
We loved playing with the Clementine Dough and the longer you use it the better it gets. The first few plays are a little sticky and the dough does get stuck on the table which makes the colors get mixed up a little, but it does improve when it dries out a bit. It’s crucial to keep these doughs in their containers right after use or they will dry out (like all doughs).
Prices: Play Dough Kit $38, includes 6 colors and wooden tools
Get It: Available on Amazon
Side Note: Clementine has a whole line of natural art supplies that are all environmentally friendly and totally non-toxic. Amazon
SafeMama Play Dough Recipe
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
- beet, spinach, and carrot juice (or food coloring)
Instructions: Mix flour, salt and oil, and slowly add water. Cook over medium heat, stirring until dough becomes stiff. Put onto wax paper and let cool. Knead the dough with your hands until it feels right. Start playing as is, or divide into balls and add a few drops of the vegetable juices to make green, pink, and orange. You can also use a few drops of traditional food coloring.
No Cook Play Dough Recipe
- 1 C Flour
- 1/4 C Salt
- 1/3 C Water
- 1 tsp Vegetable Oil
- Food Coloring (optional)
Instructions: Combine flour, salt and oil in a bowl. Gently mix together.If you want colored play dough, add 2 to 3 drops of food coloring to 1/3 cup of water, otherwise use plain water. Gradually add water to dry ingredients, mixing with your fingers until smooth. Knead the dough with your hands until smooth and pliable (about 3 to 5 minutes). Return to step one and start over to make another color! Be sure to store the dough in an air tight container. (from eHow.com)
Price: Just the cost of supplies!