White – Salt Crystal Paint (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , October 5, 2008 8:32 pm


The theme for this week’s Unplugged Project was white.  This was a really hard one for me!

I spent the whole week thinking:  “I pick the themes, so why on Earth did I pick white??”  All my kids could think of was white paint or marshmallows, but unfortunately we had neither in the house today when it got down to the wire for doing the project or giving up.

I figured there was bound to be a way to make homemade white paint so I googled “homemade paint.” I came upon this neat web page: Recipes for Art Materials.

As I read through the paint recipes, I came across an intriguing one for Magic Crystal Paint that required only hot water and Epsom salt (isn’t salt white?), both of which I had.  Further googling for “epsom salt paint” also led to this teacher discussion board post about salt paint.

This Salt Crystal Paint is simply a salt water solution that you brush on paper.  After the water dries, the salt crystals remain and produce a glittery effect.

My kids and I were excited to try it and we decided to really experiment.  We got out the Epsom salt, construction paper, crayons, scissors and hole punches.

We began by making construction paper “snowflakes” to use as stencils.  The idea of glittery snowflakes was quite appealing on this almost wintry day.

We used the shaped hole punches on our stencils too.

We also colored some pictures on the dark construction paper using crayons.

To make the salt solution, mix about 1/2 cup Epsom salt with 1/2 cup hot water.  I made mine by stirring the salt in on the stove.

We made one batch this usual way.

We also tried another way by adding LOTS of salt until we could add no more thus making a solution that was supersaturated (I snuck a bit of science in here!).

We stuck our stencils down with tape, trying to keep them flat, but without using so much tape that they would be difficult to remove later.

The first batch of “paint” looked like plain water and I didn’t hold out much hope for success. But we painted it on our stencils and our pictures anyway, then let them dry.

Here we are peeling off the stencils:

The effect was really cool!  It is quite difficult to show in a photo, but when you look at the pictures under a light or in the sun, they really sparkle like snow!

We did one picture with the supersaturated solution and it came out thickly crusted with salt.  There wasn’t much sparkle, just a flat white effect.  In fact the white almost completely hid the crayon:

We preferred the milder 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup water version, but the supersaturated one would be great to use as a paint on its own.  You could achieve some interesting looking white textures with a bit of experimentation.  The brush strokes really showed up well, as you can see in the photo above.

A fun variation that we’ll have to try another day, is to add food coloring to the solution. This will create colored crystals!

[NOTE:  In case you are unfamiliar with it, Epsom salt is the common name for magnesium sulfate.  It can be found in most pharmacies since it is often sold as a soak for feet or for adding to a bath.  I have also seen it in the garden section of Walmart since it can be used as a fertilizer.  Roses love it and that is how I use mine!  It is usually in a milk carton-type container, but I have also bought it in a resealable plastic bag.]

I imagine that this project works better with Epsom salt than table salt since the crystals are much larger.  I wonder if Kosher salt or sea salt would work too?  That would probably cost a lot more though.


Did you do a white Unplugged Project with us this week?  If so, then please put a link to your white project in Mr. Linky below.  Please remember, this week’s Mr. Linky is only for white projects.

If you didn’t do a white project but are interested in future Unplugged Projects, then please DO NOT link, but read how to join in here.  We’d love to have you!


The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project will be:




19 Responses to “White – Salt Crystal Paint (Weekly Unplugged Project)”

  1. shawna says:

    Very pretty, I think that would be the best snowflake project for winter without glitter! (Does it brush off too easily, or did it stick pretty well?) Also, what a neat comparison that the supersaturated solution dried so differently (perfect for stars!).

    shawnas last blog post..Unplugged #6: White

  2. Heather says:

    Such a fun project. I love these projects each week. I get so many great ideas to do with the kids. So thanks again for giving us ideas each week.

    Heathers last blog post..Unplug your kids….white

  3. warillever says:

    Sorry about that (new) notation — it was left in Mr Linky from another blog.

    I am up *way* to late listening to the Red Sox…..

    warillevers last blog post..Sticky Spider Webs

  4. A natural glittery paint, who’d of thought! When I go to the shops next i’ll be getting some salts as I really want to try this out.

  5. […] weekly theme at Unplug Your Kids was white, and like several other families, we used this as an opportunity to make something white and spooky […]

  6. […] 6, 2008 in Kids Crafts For the theme of white, we gathered up all the white toys and craft materials that we could […]

  7. Very cool! I knew about adding table salt to watercolors to give it a sparkly splotchy look, but I didn’t know about making your own salt solution. Fun. Had to laugh about you not knowing what to make for your own themes. I always thought you had a project in mind and picked a word to coordinate with it ;)

    Julie K in Taiwans last blog post..DIY I Spy Picture Story

  8. Karen B says:

    What a cool salt crystal project!

  9. Heather says:

    What a fun idea, we’ll have to try it sometime. I have used salt sprinkled on wet watercolor paintings for a neat effect but never thought about painting with a salt solution. I thought we’d get to this weeks project but of course not!

    Heathers last blog post..Birthday Party at the Movies part 2!

  10. I can definitely see using this paint for a winter project. Very cool sparkly effect.

  11. This is cool. We’re going to try it on Friday when we babysit.

    exploreacademys last blog post..Snakes!

  12. I am always one of the last to check in! We are going to try a salt painting project soon so now I have even more motivation. We had fun with some marshmallows.

    Mom and Kiddos last blog post..Unplugged Project: White (and Kosher)

  13. kristen says:

    I love epsom salt!! We dyed rice this week.

  14. Alicia says:

    Ooh, it’s lovely! We did this a long time ago but ours flopped! :) Maybe I used table salt. We’ll have to try again when we have more epsom salts. We did invisible art this week for the white theme. We always love your challenges!

    Alicias last blog post..Invisible Art!

  15. Gerky says:

    Yep, the picklets want to try that one too. :) For white we made homemade ice cream. You can see it at http://homefrontlines.blogspot.com/2008/10/unplugged-white.html

    Gerkys last blog post..Sketch Tuesday: Apples

  16. Dayna says:

    I love this idea. I can’t wait to start assembling holiday crafts…I think we need to make a whole bunch of these for our dining room!


    Daynas last blog post..Unplugged Project – White

  17. Jenny says:

    What a fun idea! CJ loves to paint, so I’m going to have to check out the link you posted. I keep thinking I’ll thinking I’ll take part in every week’s project, and then when the time comes, my mind is a complete blank. One week, I’ll surprise myself (and you!) by joining in at last!

    Jennys last blog post..A Long Overdue Update

  18. […] of my favorite themes and projects have been: White (salt crystal paint, pictured below), Ribbon (ribbon bookmarks), and Hot (edible sugar […]

  19. AnnE says:

    GREAT reporting on your White project. I live in a senior retirement apartment house and a lot of us decorate the hallway out side our doors. I’ve been working up my Christmas project, and this will add to it immeasurably. Construction paper; I love it.

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