DIY edible glitter you say?! You bet. A couple of years ago, while putting together a playdough sensory project, I thought it would be fun to add a bit of sparkle for a snow-like effect. After a disastrous first attempt, a couple of rounds in the kitchen, and some toddler testing, I found salt is the secret to DIY glittering with kids.
Because I made ALL of the mistakes, I thought I’d share what worked and what didn’t, so that you can make your own taste-safe, biodegradable glitter. Success guaranteed – the first time round!
I’ve also shared some of the specific ways I’ve used our salt glitter for play, as it works SO well for some activities, but isn’t always a good substitute (this won’t work well in our DIY meditation jars, for instance).
To make your own DIY edible glitter you’ll need:
- Salt (you can experiment with different types – table salt, rock salt, etc.)
- Food coloring (I’ve used both drops and gel)
- A Small plastic bag or similar for mixing
Note: As with any craft, when using salt glitter with toddlers or younger children, adult supervision is a must. Though this is a taste-safe recipe, like many household ingredients, salt can be dangerous if ingested in large amounts. If you have pets, you’ll want to make sure they can’t get into this etiher, as even small amounts of salt can be toxic.
DIY Edible Glitter Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 and place salt into a small bowl. Different kinds of salt will give you different sizes and colors of glitter, so experiment with using table salt, rock salt, etc. to see which you prefer!
- Dye with food coloring
Add food coloring and mix evenly with the salt. In my experience, both liquid drops and gel work well, but the gel may be a bit easier to mix quickly and evenly.
Tip: to add dimension to your glitter, you can mix up 2 or 3 different batches using shades/hues of the same color (light blue, green-blue, and a dark indigo for example). After cooling, mix together to create a salt glitter that gives the illusion of more sparkle.
Spread mixture onto a baking sheet in one layer. Bake in oven for 10 minutes.
- Let cool, then pour into a small container for storage
After cooling, pour into a suitable container for storage. I like to use old spice jars.
Yay! An ocean and riverbed-friendly alternative to real glitter that you can sprinkle on crafts or use with sensory activities to your earth-loving heart’s content!
Ways to use your salt glitter for play and crafts with kids
It isn’t everyday that a project comes along and you think, “I’m going to need edible glitter for this,” but I’ve found it’s perfectly suited to certain play situations – here are a few ways I’ve used this edible glitter with kids…
- PRACTICE KITCHEN SKILLS. The coloring of your glitter is a great way to give toddlers an introduction to basic kitchen skills. Smock them up and let them mix up their own colors of salt, in a nice big bowl with a spoon, or smushed around in a plastic bag. We adults aren’t generally transfixed by the food coloring process, but for little ones, watching the salt turn colors is pure magic!
- USE IT WITH PLAYDOUGH. Our Paul Bunyan dounut sensory activity is a REAL crowd-pleaser. Instead of using expensive baking decorations to top our playdough donuts, you can mix up different colors of glitter salt for sprinking and rolling.
- SPRINKLE IT IN THE GARDEN. Glitter in…gardening? I know – it sounds crazy, but we’ve been known to sprinkle glitter on dirt to produce magical results (wink!). Glitter is one of the star supplies used with our unicorn gardens, and this salt glitter is PERFECT for sprinkling on plants as it disintegrates and washes into the soil after a couple of waterings. In fact, salt (specifically Epsom salt) is packed with good nutrients that can encourage things like big blooms and healthy chlorophyll production. If your kids are into fairy gardens or just love an opportunity to sprinkle anything over dirt and flowers, salt glitter is a plant-friendly option!
- USE IT FOR KIDS CRAFTS. I don’t often use glitter in art and craft activities (because it gets EVERYWHERE) but on occasion, it really does give a project that extra special sparkle. Our bendable bats are a great example, and the *hint* of shine and dimension colored salt adds really lends itself to the mysterious illusion of movement. While salt glitter IS going be a bit less…glittery…it still maintains a nice shimmer in the light, and you can mix different shades of the same color to add dimension. It’s also SO much easier to clean up.
Would this work with sugar…?
If you’re wondering if you could get the same results with sugar, I tried it, and don’t recommend it for use with kids. Here’s what I’ve learned: It sort of works. Food coloring mixed into sugar produces a beautiful brightly-colored, glitter-like sanding sugar. You don’t have to bake it, but it comes with one major headache for play and kid-crafting…
When held in little hands, the sugar warms enough to become really sticky, quickly creating a technicolor mess. Though it looked gorgeous and had that fantastic glitter sparkle, the playdough we used it with started to change consistency after just a few minutes of play, and we ended up having to toss out the goopy batch we had rolled in the sugar glitter.
So while it’s absolutely delightful for baking, using sugar as a glitter substitute for play or crafting just didn’t work.