Homemade Child’s Watercolors Tutorial

by Ivory Soap on 10/04/2012

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I worked for ages trying to find out WHY all of the recipes online for water colors use a mixture of acid and base.  It didn’t seem to make sense.  But, when I tried the recipes with and without the fizzy reaction, the fizzies were far superior paints.  Less powdery and boogery.  More even distribution of pigment.  The best I can figure is that the resulting sodium salts (which are noted for keeping particles suspended in solution) hold the pigment better in the added water.  Dunno.

Another weirdo thingy about the recipes is that they all leave MOST of the baking soda unreacted.  Is that about having acid-free art?  Like the acid free paper?  I dunno.  So, I use the paint recipes that have citric acid in them.  It reacts MUCH more of the baking soda than vinegar.  Vinegar is an acid, but it’s really dilluted.  Powder citric acid is stronger.  4t of citric acid reacts 5t of baking soda. As opposed to vinegar which takes QUARTS to do the same thing.  You can buy citric acid in the dishwasher section as Lemi-Shine Original or just get a ten cent package of unsweetened lemonade drink mix.  (Note, the drink mix will have some coloring already in it and will taint your paint…if you care.)


You will need:

2 T baking soda

2T white flour

2 t sugar

2T water

1t citric acid or 1 pkg unsweetened drink mix

food coloring

ice cube tray

1.  Mix your dry ingredients in a big bowl.

2.  Add the water and wait for it to stop fizzing.

3.  Divide the paste into the ice cube tray wells.  Too little paint is superior to too much, if you want dry little cakes.

4.  Add food coloring until you think it’s TOO DARK.

5.  Stir and allow to dry on top of the fridge for a few days. (This is not necessary if you want to use them immediately)

6. Dampen with water and paint.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy October 6, 2012 at 10:01 am

Thanks a million! Gonna try BUT do you have any thoughts on veggie-based dyes? I have a couple of kids who must avoid the regular kind. Ever made or used them?

Ivory Soap October 12, 2012 at 6:54 am

The biggest problem I have with veggy based dyes is that they are PERMENANT. Think of beets, grape juice, blackberries… But if you want to experiment, I think this lady’s frosting dye might be of help: http://www.ourhomemadehappiness.com/2012/07/homemade-natural-food-coloring_31.html

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