Tutorial + How-to

Published on November 8th, 2010 | by Julie Finn


How-to: Aromatheraphy Play Dough

aromatherapy play dough

Play dough is excellent fun. Aromatherapy play dough is double fun!

As a sensory toy, play dough is also most magical. Sensory toys, toys that really trigger the senses, such as shaving cream, oobleck, or clay and play dough of all kinds, can calm an anxious person, focus a fidgety person, or soothe a distraught person, all through the simple acts of pulling and pounding and modeling.

When you combine play dough with certain essential oils, then, you can add to play dough’s sensory benefits and create a tool that can help bring about mental and emotional balance. Give a child lavender-infused play dough before bedtime, and he’ll relax as he plays. Give a child peppermint-infused play dough at breakfast, and she’ll be more alert and ready to meet the day.

Eucalyptus-infused play dough helps clear out stuffy noses. Mint-infused play dough helps calm down a queasy stomach.

Any conventional play dough recipe is suitable to make with an essential oil. I bake up at least one batch of my workhorse play dough recipe every week, but if you’re gluten-intolerant, Becky has some suggestions for a gluten-free play dough.

Of course, you must remember that essential oils are very powerful, and some people, especially children, can be sensitive to some oils. The oils that I use the most–peppermint, vanilla, pine, eucalyptus, lavender, and rosemary–are also oils that I use around the house daily, and so I know that my children aren’t sensitive to them. I do carefully introduce new essential oils to my children, I double-check that any oils that I plan to put into my play dough are not known skin irritants, and I’m mindful about possible sensitivities when I make batches of oil-infused play dough to share with children who are not my own.

The amount of essential oil that you add to any one batch of play dough is up to you, but remember that a little does go a long way. I add anywhere from six to twenty drops of any given oil to one batch of play dough, depending on how strong I’d like the smell to be and how powerful the oil is. Measure the drops into the measuring spoon that you’ll be using to measure the oil that the play dough calls for, then finish the measurement with that oil so that the total amount of oil in the play dough remains the same.

I am also incapable of coloring any play dough a color that doesn’t “fit” with the oil that I’ve added. Pine play dough MUST be green, of course. Peppermint play dough must be pink or red. Rosemary play dough is burgundy, in my opinion, vanilla play dough is white, of course, and lavender play dough? It’s lavender.

If nothing else, scented play dough adds even more fun to an already fun toy. However, I have seen my children calmed with lavender, and energized with peppermint, and made less stuffy with eucalyptus, and so I’m also happy to give them a toy that they enjoy, and that helps them to maintain their mental and emotional balance, and to just feel better.

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

9 Responses to How-to: Aromatheraphy Play Dough

  1. Just wanted to add a little smiling disagreement…

    Peppermint must always be pale green! 🙂

  2. Pumpkinbear says:

    And then pine could be dark green, I guess? Could work… But cinnamon must be DARK RED!!!

  3. Pingback: PLA: Plastic Made from Corn Makes for (Slightly) Less Evil Craft Packaging – Crafting a Green World

  4. Msbubbely says:

    Lavender has been linked to breast development in young boys who have not reached puberty. Tests on breast tissue show that using products containing lavender can boost estrogen and hamper androgens. The tests were not conclusive and effects receded in a few months after discontinuation of the use of the products. Just be aware if using lavender around young boys. http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20070131/lavender-oil-may-spur-breasts-boys

    • Aromatherapist says:

      It’s horrific the amount of fear this pathetic study caused. This study is a joke including the supposed research that followed. 3 kids out of how many? Billions? I can tell you my son has been exposed to both Lavender and Tea Tree oil in their purest form since he was a toddler, not in some minute diluted amount contained in a store bought product, and has never experienced breast enlargement. Other factors such as other ingredients in the products they used could just as easily cause breast enlargement. Even more so, the consumption of soy products, exposure to pesticides, plastics, etc. I’d want to know this information before blaming it on the essential oils. Both Tea Tree oil and Lavender are considered the most safest of essential oils to use and can often be used directly on the skin. They are not considered oils chosen for hormonal effect like, for example, Clary Sage or Geranium. Knowledge is power, make informed choices. There are a lot of good books out there that contain fact based information on essential oils along with their chemical make up to help you choose which oils to use.

  5. Wonderful idea! We carry chocolate peppermint essential oil which adds even more fun! http://www.57aromas.com

  6. Cynthia5627 says:

    I bought eucalyptus and lavendar oil. I would like to try tea tree oil as well. I hear it’s great for keeping away head lice.  I work with pre-k children ranging from 3-5. I love making play-doh but want to make sure it’s safe and won’t cause any skin irritations. If anyone has any info they would like to share I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks. 🙂

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