Making colored sand

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Coloured sand is a popular medium for arts-and-crafts projects. It's often used to create bottle art, in which layers of coloured sand fill a decorative bottle. It can also be used in the same manner as glitter, sprinkled over an adhesive to create a textured effect or on tacky board for sand painting. Coloured sand is also a fun addition to a child's sandbox. Coloured sand can be expensive to purchase in bulk but can be made cheaply at home. There are a variety of methods for making coloured sand. Choose the one that works best for the project in mind.

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Sand, Food Coloring and Water

Saturate white play sand with just enough water to cover all the granules. Add a generous amount of food colouring. Pour off excess water. Spread sand out on a cookie sheet to dry, stirring occasionally.

Sand and Colored Chalk

Mix equal parts white play sand and ground powered coloured side walk chalk.

Sand and Liquid Tempera Paint

Combine white play sand with liquid tempera paint. Stir until the granules are coated. Spread sand out on a cookie sheet to dry. Stir the sand frequently to avoid clumping.

Sand and Powdered Tempera Paint

Blend white play sand with powdered tempera paint. Add a small amount of water, a few drops at a time, to help the paint adhere to the sand. Allow it to dry.

Salt and Food Coloring

Salt makes a cheap and easy replacement for white play sand if the sand is to be used in art projects. Combine salt with food colouring and allow it to dry.

Mixing Tips

Regardless of the method used to make coloured sand, mixing the components together can get quite messy. To keep the work area clean, put the ingredients in a zip-top plastic bag and knead the bag until the ingredients are completely mixed. The sand can be stored in this same bag, or you can use the bag as a funnel to pour the sand into a storage container by clipping off one corner of the bag.

General Information

Coloured sand or coloured salt created with food colouring may stain hands or clothing. If this is a concern, tempera paint may be a better choice. If the sand needs to dry before being used, accelerate the drying process by placing the sand on a cookie sheet and heating it in the oven on the warming setting. Stir frequently to prevent clumping.

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