Aromatherapy Play Dough

DIY Aromatherapy Play Dough!

Making your own aromatherapy play dough is a fun and easy activity that anyone can do. It’s great for kids to play with, but as a stressed out adult I find it therapeutic too!

It’s exam season and if you’ve got some anxiety-ridden youngsters in your home, give them an aromatherapy play dough stress ball to play with. The essential oils in the play dough can help calm nerves and ease stress.

Here are some great essential oil ideas for your aromatherapy play dough:

Sweet orange - a happy scent, reminiscent of summer

Geranium - very floral and pretty

Lavender - floral and calming. Lavender is an adaptogenic essential oil

Rosemary - for focus, concentration, and even helps with a headache

Lime and  lemon - can also help with focus and stress. Lemon is an adaptogenic essential oil

Peppermint - energising and cooling

Feel free to play around with your favourite  essential oils, tailor them to specific conditions such as allergies, easier breathing or sleep, or even make up your own oil blends.

If you would like to learn more about essential oils for kids, please read here:

Child-friendly Essential Oils

And here is more essential oil inspiration:

Essential Oil Blends

This aromatherapy play dough is safe for kids over 3 to play with, with adult supervision. Please do not let them eat it or put it in their mouths though. It will be salty and essential-oily and just not very good for eating. Play dough is also a choking hazard.

Our recipe for the dough uses corn starch, salt and cream of tartar. I like using corn starch because it is gluten free and ultra fine, making for a smoother dough. The salt acts as a preservative and cream of tartar gives some elasticity. That being said, this dough won’t last forever - fingers are full of germs and bacteria. So I recommend not using it longer than a month at a time before making a fresh batch. Please note that temperature, humidity and usage can all affect how long the dough lasts.

Here is the recipe:

Aromatherapy Play Dough Recipe

40% corn starch/corn flour

8.8% plain table salt

6% cream of tartar

3.2% carrier oil of choice

42% water

A few drops of your essential oils of choice

Mica for colour if desired



Metal bowl or you can use a saucepan

Set the metal bowl on the scale and weigh out all the ingredients. Or if using a pot, weigh out everything and then add to the pot. Give the mixture a good stir and work out any lumps. It will have a thin, pourable consistency.

If using the metal bowl, turn on a hot plate and set the bowl directly on the plate. Stirring constantly, allow the mixture to heat up. It will thicken as it cooks. When ready it will come away from the sides as you stir and you should be able to roll a ball with the dough without it sticking to anything. If it is sticking then allow it to cook a little longer. Remove from the heat and give it a knead on a flat surface to make sure the dough is smooth and elastic. 

If using a pot, follow the same cooking process.

While kneading, work in a few drops of essential oil and some mica for colour if you like. Don’t use too much mica or it may stain - only a small amount is needed for some pretty colours! You could also try colouring with food colour.

Salt is a humectant and will attract moisture, so keep your dough wrapped up in cling wrap. I also recommend doing this to prevent the dough from drying out when not in use.

Play instructions:

As play dough picks up germs on hands, please wash your hands before use.

As there is salt in the mixture, it can be a little drying on the hands if used for longer periods of time. Please wash hands after use to rinse off any residue.

Make sure to store the play dough in cling wrap or in an airtight container.




About the author:

Juliette van der Meer

BSc, BScH, PGCE, Adv Dip Cosmetic Science

Cosmetic scientist