How to dye pasta the easy way for kids crafts and sensory play! No mess, no waste and no rubbing alcohol!
We always have a big batch of brightly coloured pasta on hand here. It’s great for threading activities, for sorting and learning about shapes and colours, and it’s especially wonderful to use as a base in our sensory bins. Today I’m showing you how to dye pasta using the easiest method I know. It’s quick and fun, there’s no mess, and unlike other recipes out there, it doesn’t contain rubbing alcohol.
To dye pasta, you’ll need:
- various types of dry pasta
- food colouring (we use Wilton Icing Gels because of their vibrant colours)
- white vinegar
- small bowl
- container with lid
- baking rack
To keep the little hooligan busy while I preparing the activity, I filled a sectioned container with the pasta we would be using. She happily explored the pasta and scooped and poured it into a few different bowls while I got things ready. This, in itself, is a great activity for little ones.
Dyeing your pasta:
We dye our pasta the same way we make our dyed rice for sensory play. Ours is a mess-free way to colour rice or pasta. There are no wasteful ziplock bags involved, and we don’t use rubbing alcohol to dilute and set the colour. We use vinegar Here’s how we do it.
1. Pour your pasta into a container that has a tight-fitting lid.
2. In a small bowl, mix a generous dollop of food colouring with a teaspoon of vinegar. This helps to disperse the colour evenly over the pasta, especially if you’re using gel colouring which is quite thick compared to liquid colouring.
3. Place the lid on (make sure it’s tight!), and let your little ones shake it like crazy!
Pop the lid off to check on things. If your colour isn’t evenly distributed over the pasta, simply sprinkle in another tsp of vinegar. Don’t worry if your pasta looks wet or soggy. It will dry quickly. The smell of vinegar will also dissipate as it dries.
That’s all there is to it!
Pour your pasta on to a baking rack, and set it in a warm sunny place to dry. Ours only required a couple of hours beside the fire. Depending on the temperature of your home, you may need to let your pasta dry over night.
When ours was ready, the wee one scooped all of the dyed pasta into a storage container.
How to store your coloured pasta?
Your dyed pasta will keep indefinitely as long as you store it in a dry place. I keep mine in a storage container with a lid or a large jar with a lid. Just make sure it’s thoroughly dry before packing it away for storage. We still have a little pasta left-over from a batch that we made two years ago!
Check out some of the ways we’ve used it:
Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.