How To Make Colored Sand
My friend had some extra sand from filling her sandbox and gave me a bucket thinking I could do something with it. What do you do with a bucket of sand? Oh, so many things! But first you have to make it fun by adding a little color! We tried a few different methods and did not have much success until we did it the simple way…Just add color! Quick, easy and you get to create some great colors for some fun projects.
UPDATE: We’ve played around with some other ways to make colored sand thanks to suggestions from readers. Check out How To Make Colored Sand With Chalk AND don’t miss our Speed Sand Art Video below!
DIY Colored Sand
What You Need:
- Food coloring (we had a box of neon colors, too, find some here)
- Baking pans
- Oven set to 200 degrees
- Spoon or stirring stick
- a Sifter of some sort (ours was some leftover tulle rubber band to a container)
Step 1: Sift Sand to get out any big rocks or unwanted debris. We made our own sifter by fastening some tulle over the top of a container with a rubber band and then slowly pouring sand on top while lightly shaking/bouncing the “sifter”. The kids enjoyed this part!
Step 2: Separate sand into baking dishes. Add a little water. Aim for a damp consistency but not soaking wet where extra water is visible. If you happen to add too much water, no worries. It will just take you a little longer in the drying process.
Step 3: Add food coloring to get desired color and mix the sand up well to distribute the color.
Before the oven
Step 4: Place pans in oven (set to 200 degrees) for 5 – 10 minutes. Pull the sand out when it is barely wet and let it air dry over night. If the sand is completely dried in the oven, the color tends to fade and is not as vibrant when pulled out barely wet. Once the sand is cool, I place it in a storage bag and leave it open on the back of the counter until it is dry (usually a few hours). If you happen to dry it too much or do not get the color you want, you can always add more water and color and do it again! You cannot mess this up!
After – These are snack size bags
Step 5: Now get busy and make some fun art projects! Like, Sand Art!
Check out Sand Art in action too!
(click here if you do not see the video below)
OR create a sand art bottle with sand from your recent vacation. I know a lot of people who collect sand while on vacation. What a great way to use it as a decoration rather than a bottle of sand stored in a box in your closet.
Or maybe you love the idea but you’re thinking I don’t have the time or desire to make this. I’ve seen some really great colored sand on Amazon:
A Not So Successful Technique:
I am pretty sure this method did not work because we were using real sand. The idea is to add sand, water and color together and stir it well. Then you are supposed to let it soak over night and then remove the sand and let it dry. This method, although fun for the kids to help put together, barely added any color to the sand.
Now you know how to make colored sand with food coloring!
Make sure to check out an alternative way to make colored sand here with chalk!
This was originally posted in March 2011, as it is summer time we are sharing some of our old fun with all our new readers again! AND we just created the new video to go along with it!
Julie saysMarch 21, 2011 at 4:32 am
I’d love for you to link up at Inspire Me Mondays!
Jamie saysMarch 21, 2011 at 8:34 am
What a great idea. I can think of so many things to use it for. I hope you stop by DIY Home Sweet Home and link up to More The Merrier Monday.
radhika saysMarch 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm
Wow! What a fun idea!
Amy saysMarch 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm
I buy the plain white sand at the dollar store (used in floral arraignments) , pour it into a sandwich bag and then just add food color. I mix it right in the bag until I get the color I want, never have to worry about it being too wet or baking it. Just another example of how to color sand.
Fun On A Dime Lady saysMarch 23, 2011 at 10:48 pm
Thanks for sharing an alternative! I have not seen the white sand at my dollar store, but I’m going to have to look a littler closer to make sure!
Sky saysMarch 22, 2011 at 12:18 am
My little boys will love this! Thanks for sharing the tips on what NOT to do- that’s always helpful!
Kimberlee saysMarch 22, 2011 at 1:24 pm
How fun is that! Great idea and great directions.
emily kate saysMarch 23, 2011 at 10:11 pm
Fun craft activity!
maggy, red ted art saysMarch 24, 2011 at 2:48 am
Very good timing! We are going to the beach in 2-3 weeks time and will be bringing sand back to craft with! This will be great help!
Thank you for linking up to Kids Get Crafty 🙂
Karina's Challenge saysMarch 24, 2011 at 11:29 am
Oh I never thought of Making my own colored sand :)! Great tutorial!
You should come link it on my blog
Lillian Pearl Designs saysMarch 24, 2011 at 11:37 am
Thanks for the tutorial! Never would of thought of that, its been years since I’ve played with colored sand!
Cheryl saysMarch 28, 2011 at 7:15 am
This is a great idea! I’ve featured you today at Craftastic Monday. Stop by & grab a Featured On button when you can & can’t wait to see what you link up next:)
Nicole saysMay 24, 2011 at 1:57 pm
Thank you so much! I’m throwing a circus themed birthday party for my daughter in a couple weeks and i’m planning on doing sand art as one of the activities. I remembered in school crushing up sidewalk chalk to do this with. I’m going to save my chalk and try this.
Fun On A Dime Lady saysMay 24, 2011 at 5:19 pm
My friend told me that she remembers using salt, instead of sand…if you are looking for another alternative. Have fun at your party!
Sha saysJune 30, 2014 at 11:16 pm
Wouldn’t the salt dissolve when you added the food coloring? Any advice on this? I want to do some sand art for a baby shower in a couple weeks and salt sounds cheaper than buying sand but I don’t know, how would you do it?
Michelle (AKA Fun On A Dime Lady) saysJuly 4, 2014 at 3:29 pm
Actually, another variation to use with salt is to use colored chalk and rub the chalk in the sand until it is the desired color. Hope this helps
moses saysJune 1, 2011 at 4:11 am
Now take your colored sand and bake it for about an hour 200 to300 degrees (to completely remove all moisture),then let cool.Next spread sand out on a cookie sheet or similar spread thin as possible.Now spray sand with SCOTCH GUARD a nice even coat,mix around and repeat.Now wait for it to dry,then mix sand around and repeat the spraying and thats it, Now you have just made MAGIC SAND,which will keep them busy for hours building sand castles n stuff under water.
Fun On A Dime Lady saysJune 1, 2011 at 7:21 am
Awesome idea and a great alternative! Thanks Moses for sharing the process!
Taylor saysJuly 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm
I am looking to make colored sand to put in a centerpiece arrangement. If I add water on top on the sand in the vase will it make all the color come out? Thanks so much for the help!
misssrobin saysOctober 19, 2011 at 8:37 am
Again, this looks like lots of fun.
Emily Cullen saysOctober 19, 2011 at 9:10 am
I really liked your project. I also liked that you showed your less than perfect results! It shows your audience, at least me anyway, that we are all not Martha Stewart moms but it should not prevent us from experimenting and trying to have a little fun with our kids. Even if things don’t come out perfectly, it’s the time that they will remember you spent with them! Thanks!
Patricia saysOctober 19, 2011 at 10:00 am
Oh my gosh! This is great! I saw the colored sand at a store and bought some ~ well, just three bags, because it was so expensive. I used it in my yard between stones and it looked really cool. Now, from your great “how to”, I can do it myself and not spend a gazillion dollars. Thanks ~ Patricia
Virginia saysMay 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm
When I was little we each bought a pail of big different colored chalks and bottles os salt,
Then rubbed the chalk against the salt to make different color sands. Hope it’s helpful.
Michelle (AKA Fun On A Dime Lady) saysMay 25, 2012 at 2:20 am
That sounds interesting. I may have to try this, this summer with the kiddos. We like to try new things! Thanks for sharing
My Traveling Troop saysOctober 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm
My daughter loves to play in the sand! I bet she would love this craft.
Happy SITS day!
Jennie B saysOctober 19, 2011 at 11:09 pm
Great idea for kids with sensory needs as well!
Lady Jennie saysOctober 25, 2011 at 11:49 am
Now this sounds like a great plan for the next time we head up to the beach. 🙂
Virginia saysMay 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm
Planning b day party for a 13 and 10 yr old. I’ve been severly sick and they had no party for 6
Years. Any suggestions or ideas? Thanks any will help.
Michelle (AKA Fun On A Dime Lady) saysMay 25, 2012 at 2:19 am
I’m sending you an email right now! Hope it helps. Such fun ages!
Jillian saysOctober 29, 2012 at 10:45 am
Thank you! This worked out very well for me.
Alexis saysNovember 19, 2012 at 7:58 pm
Thank you for posting how to make colored sand. I live in California and I’m making homemade Zen Gardens for my friends and family in the midwest. I plan on using sand straight from the beach. I may try coloring sea shells as well.
Michelle (AKA Fun On A Dime Lady) saysDecember 4, 2012 at 2:01 am
That sounds like a really neat gift. I would love to see pictures when you are done!
Erika saysMay 2, 2014 at 8:39 am
After looking all over to purchase colored sand I LOVE the idea of saving money and doing it myself! I have 2 boys, ages 2 and 5, and I just know they will make a complete mess of this stuff. They like to add water to their sandbox so they can make things. My question is, when the sand becomes wet, does the color bleed?
Michelle (AKA Fun On A Dime Lady) saysMay 20, 2014 at 1:59 pm
I would think that since it is dye, that it would probably bleed. When we attempted to soak it in just the water, the water was always the color we wanted to make the sand.
Nancy saysMay 8, 2014 at 9:28 am
Thank you, I am going to try this for my wedding. We are doing a blended family sand union. Bride, groom and 6 children. We all need our own color! If easy enough I will plan some play time with the grand kids to make sand art!
Brenna saysJune 15, 2014 at 1:22 pm
Just wanted to share my 2cents. 🙂 I’m dying sand for my wedding and went over every tutorial I could find. In the end I decided to use rit liquid fabric dye. I worked amazingly. I bought play sand from Home Depot, sifted it, decided it into 5 different containers and dyed each one a different color to represent me, my husband, and our 3 kids.
A few pointes. I did not moisten the sand before adding dye. The navy blue came out black. I added a lil aquamarine to make it the correct color. The purple came out LIGHT purple. I added a lil navy blue :). Be prepared to play with your colors. I also just mixed it right in the container shaking vigorously. Then when I had my desired color I just left the lid off to dye. Shaking it once everyday or so. I had lots of time before the wedding though and wasn’t worried about it drying fast. Hope this helps some one.
Michelle (AKA Fun On A Dime Lady) saysJune 16, 2014 at 4:29 pm
Awesome! Thank you so much for the tips!