play doh crystals

Why does Play-dough Crystallize? Explained

You have probably already found enough interesting content on our site about how much fun playing with Playdough can cause a mess.

Whether you are an adult or a child, there are many benefits to working with this type of soft molding compound.

If you use it often and for a long time, you are probably wondering: why does Play-dough (Play-Doh) crystallize?

We have dedicated this text to the answer to this question, so that we can work carefree with this type of mass, without the fear that you will lose or spoil something by crystallization. 

Play-doh is mostly crystallized as a result of the salt which is one of the ingredients in the composition. 

The composition of oil-bound plasticine mass is of calcium salt, vaseline, aliphatic acid, and gypsum powder.

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Also, the figures you make from plasticine cannot dry out, since they are connected with oil that does not evaporate.

All the ingredients in combination, allow you to work with a mass that is easy to shape and that shape remains, without spilling. 

Compared to other materials, plasticine is considered a suitable mass for work even by professionals. 

Let’s Go Back to the Beginning – Why is Playdough Good?

Fine motor skills develop precisely if you work with a mass such as Playdough, which you knead and shape in your fingers and hands.

This is extremely important in childhood, when children develop the use of hands, learn to distinguish colors, and do creative things with the shaping mass. 

However, adults also benefit from Playdough especially if they pinch, pull, kick, and twist through fingers, hands, and wrists to form a mound of dough.

By doing this, you strengthen smaller muscles, develop small movements, and connect the eye and arm – through an activity known as “the cerebellum“. 

That’s why it’s important to work with the Playdough mass. In the preschool period, it is a good introduction to writing, as well as tying shoelaces, learning to button buttons, or closing the zipline. 

In addition to the game with the playdough, children achieve coordination of sight and movement and activities such as stringing threads, tying knots, turning numbers on the dial of earlier versions of the phone, as well as unlocking the door, and turning the key in the lock. 

Playdough mass plays a major role in recovery from injuries to fingers, hands, or joints. This type of mass is soft and easy to use and does not leave stains due to “greasy” parts in its composition. 

Artists also like to work with Playdough mass, because it is obedient in shaping, and keeps its shape for a long time, without leaving greasy stains on the surface.  

If the Play-dough Mass is “greasy,” Then Why Does It Crystallize?

As we mentioned in other texts on this site, the basic ingredients of Play-Doh mass are water, salt, and flour.

When it stays in the air longer, the water evaporates and the salt crystallizes. Even the manufacturer of this soft molding compound recommends several ways to “refresh” the mass: 

  • Add one drop of water and mix the hardened mass on the surface of which salt crystals have appeared.
  • Wrap the mass in a wet cloth or paper towel, put it in the original packaging, and store it overnight.

All of this tells you that even the Playdough mass maker expects this to happen. And that’s nothing weird or dangerous, it’s not even a reason for the masses to throw up because of it. 

You will have another problem if paint appears on the surface of the mass and the surface is filled with a strange layer of fungi. Then it’s time to say goodbye to your Playdough parts. 

play dough crystals green
Playdough crystals:

How Do I Fix Crystallized Play-dough?

The Internet is full of many tips on how to make the “home version” of Playdough in the best way, how to store it in the right conditions, and how to fix it if it dries.

Throughout our blog, you will find useful information about the benefits of using Play-Dough mass, why it is important for children’s growth, and what shapes and figures you can make. 

On our site, we have recommended tips for the best weight storage in several previous posts. Play-Dough is an object of creativity, but it is very messy.

Unfortunately, it quickly loses moisture if left in an unprotected box. But, don’t throw it away right away, try some of the tricks to restoring the humidity of the mass. 

There are several ways to fix crystallized Playdough: 

  • The first method involves taking toilet paper or a napkin, soaking it in water, and wrapping Playdough in it. Make sure that the whole mass is covered. 
  • Second: Then take a plastic box and pack the mass wrapped in a moistened handkerchief or napkin and close it well, to avoid the liquid evaporating from the box. It is best to leave the mass wrapped in a napkin and covered in a plastic box, to spend the night. 

After a whole day, make sure the towel is still wet. Press and stir the mass gently, because it should be soft and ready for further use. 

It may be necessary to get a new Playdough if this method of restoring mass moisture fails. 

  • The third method implies that you break the hardened mass into smaller pieces because that way it will absorb moisture more easily. Put all the parts in a bag with a zipper. Make sure the bag is tightly closed and ensure that moisture does not enter the bag. Add a little water to the bag and close it. Knead the mass with the liquid with your hands, so that the Playdough quickly absorbs the water. However, leave it overnight, so that the mass absorbs a sufficient amount of liquid and becomes elastic enough to work with it. Finally, strain the mass to remove excess liquid. Mix the mass well in your hands and enjoy it while working with it. 
  • This method is the most common for achieving a new softness of the mass. The best way is to pour the dried mass into a bowl, and then add water drop by drop in the same bowl and knead again and again, until you achieve the desired softness of the mass. 

When the mass is soft, moist, and sticky enough, you can enjoy shaping the figures of your Playdough mass.

How Do I Fix Grainy Playdough?

Purchased variants of Playdough masses come packaged in the right proportions. But if you or your children enjoy playing with this shaping mason, you probably need a larger amount, more paint, or more frequent replacement of the mass, after it crumbles, hardens, and dries. 

There is a multitude of recipes that include different ingredients in making a homemade variant of Play-Doh mass.

In this blog post, you can find a recipe with ingredients for Play-Dough at home. It is also important to know how to store, maintain softness, and work with it as long and successfully as possible. 

So how do You fix Crystallized Play-Doh? 

Our recommendation is to wet the mass and mix it well. The lumps are a sign that the liquid has evaporated from the mass and become hard, bad for working with it and shaping the desired shapes. 

When you play and work with the Playdough mass, it can bring you a lot of creative challenges and joys. Make sure to store it in proper condition. There, it can last as long as possible. 

If salt crystals appear due to drying of the liquid or if it hardens, then read again the tips we already gave here and at other places on our “Bay of Clay” website. 

Enjoy the creative challenges offered by the Playdough mass!

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