Homemade Puffy Paint

3-Ingredient, homemade Puffy Paint an easy art technique for kids using microwave and a few basic kitchen ingredients.

If you know me, you know we LOVE homemade paint recipes and easy science activities. This homemade puffy paint fits the bill perfectly! This paint is super-easy and inexpensive to make. It’s fun to create with, but the best part is watching your artwork puff right up when you place it in the microwave!

3 ingredient puffy paint

I love that Homemade puffy paint is a great art activity for children and has the added bonus of being a bit of a science experiment as well.

homemade puffy paint - self rising flour, salt, water

To make your own homemade puffy paint, you’ll need:

    • 1 tbsp self-rising flour
    • food colouring in the colours of your choice (I used Wilton icing gels) see below
    • 1 tbsp salt
    • little bit of water (start with 1/4 tsp)

For your convenience, I’ve included affiliate links for some of the products in this post:

Making your puffy paints:

Combine your flour and salt in a small bowl.  Add a little bit of water and stir until you get a smooth, thin paste (about the same consistency of stirred yogurt).  Add your food colouring, and mix well.

Ours sat for a bit while we walked to the school bus, and it thickened up again, so I just added a few drops of water to thin it back to the yogurt consistency.

Get some sturdy cardstock or thin cardboard, and some paintbrushes or q-tips, and get creating!

Magically transform it in your microwave:

Now for the science!  When you’re happy with your masterpiece, pop it into the microwave for 30 seconds and watch your painting puff up!  Your artwork will be warm when you remove it from the microwave, but it will be completely set.

Ta daaa…

Isn’t that remarkable?  Now I don’t think that these paintings will hold up over the long term.

Update: One of our paintings started flaking within a couple of days.  I’m not sure why, because the others held up for weeks on the window sill.  I’m not sure how long your project will last for, but as far as a fun art/science activity to do with your kids, this one gets 2 thumbs up from me!

Looking for more easy, super-cool art activities for kids?  Try our:

Starry Night with Melted Crayons

Wax Resist Art

Salt, Glue and Watercolour Art

Sharpies and Rubbing Alcohol Art

Marbleized Shaving Cream Art

Get the 3-5 Playful Preschool e-Book!

 25+preschool activities, 10 printables, 50 links to activities not featured in the book all for $8.99 until   Download your copy today:

3-5 Playful Preschool 3-book


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  1. preschooluniverse says

    I haven’t heard of doing puffy paint in the microwave. We did it with shaving cream and glue, but the colors weren’t as vibrant. Must try.

    • suzanne says

      ive done both puffy paints …kids loved it … i work in a pre school my boss calls me the mad scientist …. love itttttttt thank you so musch for the lovely ideas could not do it with out you !!!

      • happyhooligans says

        You’re so welcome, Suzanne! I’m so happy you’re getting inspiration from our crafts and activities! Can’t tell you how much that means to me. xx

  2. Valerie @ Glittering Muffins says

    Those look awesome! Sometimes I think you have more fun than the kids doing all those crafts, lol. :)

  3. says

    Thanks for the tutorial! We have tried it with kids and it was really fun! And we’re going to try some more things from your great blog soon :)

    • happyhooligans says

      You’re welcome, Jana! I’m so glad you’ve been inspired to try some of our ideas yourself! Good luck with them, and have fun!

  4. Jacki says

    Thanks for this one. Just did it for a rainy day activity. My girls loved it when they realised they could also draw on the puffy paint with permanent markers when it was dry. Love your page.

    • happyhooligans says

      Well, that’s cool, Jacki! So we could leave the puffy paint white, and then the kids could colour their creations! Thanks for the tip!
      So glad you like the blog! As much as I don’t want summer to end, I am eager to get back to the Hooligans and to blogging again. :)

    • happyhooligans says

      You could try. It might work, but then, it might break down the paint as well. I really don’t know. It is only flour and salt and water, so I’m not sure how it would react/hold up after being sprayed. Sorry I can’t be of more help there, but my advice would be, plan to do this as a fun activity, not for a project that you would want to keep for a great length of time.

    • happyhooligans says

      I’m on a tight budget here too, Debbie, so all of the arts/crafts/activites we do here can be done at little or no expense. :) I hope you find lots of inspiration here. :)

  5. Majet says

    It’s so, so, so, so nice! Great!
    But, I don’t know what is self-rising flour – can I use yeast with flour?

    Thank You!

  6. t.ins says

    hello! i’m really interested in trying this one out. would you happen to know if the paint will become puffy if you will just let it dry? we don’t have a microwave in the classroom. Your reply will really be helpful. thank you :)

    • happyhooligans says

      No, much like when you bake a cake, heat is needed in order for the chemical reaction with the self-rising flour to occur. It might be possible to do the experiment in a conventional oven set to low heat, but I haven’t tried it. What about a toaster oven? Could you bring one of those into the classroom for the experiment?

    • chrystelle allan says

      Hi,I love puff paint and yesterday I decided to use 2 hair dryers we had for makeover week,it ws brilliant! Th toddlers (with help from a teacher) dried it themselves and wtchd it transform.you can always buy second hand hair dryers.give it a go :-)

    • kris says

      We have a microwave in the staffroom, so we will take it in there. I may even be able to take small groups of the kids with me.

  7. Heather says

    My 2 year old had a blast with this! We painted mod podge over the finished protects to give them a nice seal and shine! It made the papers straighten out too. That worked out really nicely and looks great! Now they can happily be hung on her wall :) By the way I love this page!

  8. maddie says

    great idea! am going to try it! quick question though does it matter what material you get the children to design it on

    • happyhooligans says

      I’ve only ever tried it on cardboard, Maddie, but I’m sure it would work on paper or a paper plate. It might even work on fabric, but I couldn’t say for sure.

  9. Deb says

    We done thistle at and Maisie loved it!!, we used eye droppers to put the paint onto the card and when we put it into the microwave Maisie talked about how it would be hot when it came out. Only problem is I don’t think the consistency was quite right as it came out cracked or maybe I put I too long?

    • happyhooligans says

      Maybe it was the length of time it was in there, or maybe your microwave is stronger than mine? I really can’t say for sure. Glad you had fun with it though!

  10. says

    I am so excited to try this with my kids today! We are FREEZING and on “lock down” due to terrible wind chills, so I’ve been looking for some fun activities. They will adore this. Thanks!

    • happyhooligans says

      I’m thinking it would work in a regular oven, Jennifer – after all, when you bake with self-rising flour, your cookies and cakes rise. I’m thinking it would just take longer than it would in the microwave, and you wouldn’t want your oven temp too high because of the paper/cardboard you’ve painted on. Totally guessing there though.

    • happyhooligans says

      It might be baking powder and baking soda, Crystal. I’m not sure of that though, so google it, but yes, I believe you can make your own self-rising flour. I haven’t done it before though.

  11. Kay says

    You can also add bi-carbonated soda to ‘plain’ flour to make it rise. If you add a few drops of cooking /olive/vegetable oil to the mixture it will stop it from flaking and will stay intact for longer.

  12. Beth says

    This looks like an awesome project to try with my preschoolers… does anyone know if liquid water colors would work as well as the food coloring? Thanks for sharing this idea!

  13. 'Auntie' Nikki says

    That’s cool! Maybe some hairspray, or a glue-water mixture would help keep them together for longer too.

    • happyhooligans says

      I’ve never tried, Sandra. You’d just want to make sure you had a thick layer of paint going onto the paper so it would puff up.

    • happyhooligans says

      You can do some googling to find out, Lindsey. You might be able to do it in a regular oven, but I’m not sure. I’ve had a follower tell me she’s done it with a hair dryer too.

  14. Debra says

    I thought of using a bit of glue in the recipe. I wonder if that would help. Also, I might just try the mod podge for a shiny seal!

  15. clare khetab says

    just wondering if pva can be used instead of mod podge to seal being as it dries with a clear layer? thanks

  16. eileen staller says

    How do you get the colors so vibrant. One tube of wiltons icing colors doesn’t go very far. I tried it with my granddaughter. We had fun doing it, but didn’t get the vibrancy you got.

    • happyhooligans says

      When you say tube, do you mean “tub”, Eileen? I use Wilton tubs, and the colours go very far. They last me for years. Usually just a little dip in with a toothpick is enough to colour whatever project we’re doing. We used very little of the gel/paste to get the colours in this project.

    • happyhooligans says

      I really don’t know for sure, Laura, but something’s making me think it should be made just before using it.

  17. says

    We did this today and it worked wonderfully. I hadn’t heard of self-rising flour before so I googled how to make it. For anyone that needs it, here’s the recipe I used: 1 cup flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder. Sift or stir together.

  18. Jenn says

    My daughter and I loved this craft… and my husband was able to brighten up his office with a puffy paint masterpiece :) We used regular all-purpose flour and painted onto wax paper, it comes out a bit wrinkly but it looks great and keeps forever (it’s been several months and it still looks as good as new). Thanks for the great idea!

  19. Johanna says

    Thank you so much for this idea ! My son had a ball helping making it and then painting. At his request we did hand prints and it worked, looked great. My only question is about the thickness of the paper as ours ended up all uneven and I can’t straighten it up to hang them or glue them to make cards ?

  20. Stella says

    I would do puffy paint with my preschoolers but I used Shaving cream (Barbasol) works the best. Spray sone shaving cream in a bowl and put food coloring into bowl and gently fold it into the cream. Works well and stays puffy for and good long time

    • happyhooligans says

      I really don’t know. The shellac could very well dissolve the painting. It’s only flour and water, after-all. Like I said, I’m not sure why the one picture flaked. The others were fine, for weeks, and we’ve done the project several times since, and we didn’t have any problems with the art work holding up for weeks afterwards.

  21. A says

    I wonder if adding a small amount of cream of tarter or glycerin would help with the flaking bit. I know it does in homemade play dough so maybe in this paint??? Have to try!

    • happyhooligans says

      We only had the flaking happen once, and we’ve done the experiment several times since. I’m not sure what caused it to happen on the one painting.

    • happyhooligans says

      No, it’s All Purpose flour, Amanda. Different than self-rising flour. SR flour has leavening agents added, which means you don’t need to add baking powder etc. to the recipe.

  22. happyhooligans says

    Hi Helma, I’m glad you enjoyed my puffy paint enough to want to share it. You’re probably not aware of copyright infringement though. I wasn’t either when I started blogging. By law, you can’t copy and paste another website’s content into your own. It’s known as stealing (or scraping) content, and you can be charged for it, and google can remove your blog from the internet. I’d hate to see that happen to you. If you’d like to share, you can use one photo and a sentence or two to describe the activity i.e. “Here’s an easy way to make puffy paint at home in your own kitchen. See Happy Hooligans for the details” and provide the link to my site. You must provide one of MY pictures with the link though. You’ve used another bloggers, which again, is an infringement of copyright. Think of a blog or website as you would a book in a library. You can’t just copy a page out of a published book and print it in a book of your own. A website and blog is the copyrighted property of its owner, just as a published book is. I hope this helps you understand a little about blogging protocol. If you make the necessary corrections, you’re welcome to share my post. :)


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