How To Make Moon Sand With 3 Ingredients

Heather Dessinger

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How To Make Moon Sand

It’s squishy, it’s crumbly, and it crunches like a tiny bean bag when you squeeze it tight. You can mold with it, or you can smash it to smithereens. Although we’re big fans homemade play dough around here, moon sand is a totally different sensory experience.

My kids love it, and I love that we can make it together in less than 10 minutes. You guys, TEN MINUTES . . . and that’s if they help.

So, what is moon sand?

Also sometimes called cloud dough, it’s smooshy and moldable like wet sand, yet crumbly like dry sand. It crunches like a bean bag when you squeeze it, and can be molded and smashed to smithereens. Kids love it, and parents do too because sensory play helps build nerve connections in the brain, encourages the development of motor skills, and can be helpful for calming an anxious or frustrated child. (1) (2

Although many homemade moon sand recipes call for baby oil and tempera paint for coloring, I prefer to use coconut oil and natural sources of coloring. Not only does it make the moon sand completely food grade and non-toxic, using clear coconut makes the final product easy to tint with natural food coloring. (Also, if you’re looking for other super easy edible sensory play activities, check out this easy homemade edible finger paint.)

How To Make Moon Sand
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4 from 5 votes

Moon Sand Recipe

It's squishy yet crumbly, and you can mold with it or smash it to smithereens. Kids love it, and you probably already have the necessary ingredients on hand. Here's how to make moon sand.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • medium / large bowl
  • measuring spoons
  • fork
  • Quart-sized mason jar (or any glass jar) with a lid



  • Add arrowroot powder or cornstarch to a medium/large bowl.
  • If you’re using food coloring, now is the time to add it to your coconut oil. We added a teaspoon. The dye won’t fully mix with the oil, but I’ve found that whisking with a fork does help the color distribute more evenly, and once you combine the oil with the flour the dye will mix in.
  • Add the coconut oil to the cornstarch/arrowroot powder and mix everything together. We started with a fork and then finished up with our fingers.
  • When our moon sand was fully mixed the color was still pretty light. For natural food coloring I like India Tree, but I didn’t want to use my entire stash so I started trying to think of a way to adapt my natural Easter egg dye recipes. 
    I’d succeeded once before with naturally colored homemade play dough, but because this is an oil-based recipe I didn’t want to include a water-based dye. To may my own dye, I grabbed some non-gmo glycerin and a few blueberries, then tossed them in a pan to simmer over low heat for a few minutes.
    Once the glycerin reached a deep ruby color, I strained out the blueberries and then mixed in the glycerin until the color reached the intensity I wanted. Another option mentioned by a reader is to use dried, powdered fruits and veggies. She tinted hers with spirulina powder and it made a beautiful green-blue color.
    Tap image to expand view.
    pot with blueberries


  • Our moon sand has been placed in a glass storage jar until it’s needed again. I’m thinking I’ll pull it out the next time the potami are waiting not-so-patiently for dinner to be ready. 🙂


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Tips for Playing With Moon Sand

Though it’s not gritty like beach sand, it can make a mess. I rolled out some paper on the kitchen table then dumped the sand on top. The kids loved it and cleanup was easy. Another option would be to put it in a shallow tray or have the kids play with it on a porch.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add essential oils?

Yep. If you’d like you can add up to 48 drops of a child-safe essential oil like lavender, sweet orangespearmint or cedarwood to the oil before mixing it with the cornstarch/arrowroot flour.

Does this leave hands feeling oily at all?

Nope! It leaves behind a thin layer of silky powder that washes off easily. If you play with it for awhile it might moisturize your hands, but it won’t leave them feeling greasy.

How long does this moon sand last?

This recipe does best if stored in an air tight container
 between uses. It basically shelf stable but just like sandbox sand it’s probably a good idea to replace every once in awhile.

How does this compare to kinetic sand?

Kinetic sand is made with actual play sand, so it’s a different texture. I’d say kinetic sand is a little easier to build sandcastles with, but moon sand is much more affordable and works too!

Can I use vegetable oil instead of coconut oil?

Yes, any kind of oil will work.

Want more kids activity ideas?

Here are 50+ kids activities that encourage creativity.


1. Exploring The Benefits of Sensory Play

2. Why Sensory Play is Important for Development

Moon sand is squishy & crumbly, & it crunches like a bean bag when you squeeze it. You can mold with it, or you can smash it. Here's how to make it.

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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48 thoughts on “How To Make Moon Sand With 3 Ingredients”

  1. Sounds too cool!
    I suppose I could use red beet juice – here is to hoping I have some without vinegar, though the vinegar might not matter Any one know?
    How much does this recipe make ? Quart jar, more or less? Or is it in the text and I missed it . going to read over 🙂

  2. Oh cool! I will be pinning this to use next summer when my baby is a little older! I love any DIY sensory play projects for kids. I feel much more at ease with them going to town with something that I know is completely safe for them to play with/eat.

  3. We just made this recipe…So easy and so fun!! My 3 year old is loving it and it left my hands feeling nice and moisturized 🙂 thanks!

  4. Such a hit in our home… I use canola oil just because I cannot afford 1 cup of coconut oil for stuff that will be all over the flour, but I bet yours smells SO good!!! I put a few drops of essential oil in mine to make it fun to play with. Lavender and Bergamot are 2 of our favorites here. 🙂

    • Same! LavenderEO and a bit of eco-glitter and you’ve got some “unicorn” sand that calm even the sweet but oh so fast and furious little beings we children. ☺️

  5. precious heather!
    what a delightful find here today – so good for the short days inside 🙂
    thanks for a great recipe of harmless ingredients that are so easy to cleanup too!
    agree with the budget conscious suggestion of canola oil from yanic complete with yummy essential oils – i love grapefruit eo with some yellow and red coloring.

  6. I just made this using coconut oil and cornstarch and it doesn’t have the texture like yours. I even added in an additional .5 cup of cornstarch to see if that would help. It’s more like a sticky dough like consistency and it has NO sand like consistency. Is it because the oil is still warm? Something else?

    • Well, it’s evening now and since the oil cooled off the moon sand is perfect! It’s fun to play with and my 3 year old son really likes it. Thanks!

  7. My 3 year old really liked this! I also couldn’t part with 1 cup organic coconut oil and instead used my cheapest vegetable oil I use rarely throughout the year. It really worked great and was something different for a boring winter day!

  8. So how long is the shelf life? If left out like bought kinetic sand, will it stay soft? I’m just curious. I bought some kinetic sand and I want a larger supply for an indoor sand table, but if it isn’t sustainable I’ll probably just buy some more.

    • This does best if stored in a sealed container between uses. It basically shelf stable but just like sandbox sand it’s probably a good idea to replace every once in awhile. We have both this and kinetic sand – both are fun 🙂

  9. I am very excited to give this a try! I have no idea why but whenever I see moon sand my mouth salivates like crazy and I have an overwhelming urge to eat it. Kind of like pica but I’m not pregnant! So I have never bought it for my toddler. I feel this is a great solution. Thank you!!!

    • Yes, although the color of the oil might change the color of the moon sand slightly. I chose coconut because it is clear 🙂

  10. I would also like to know if there are any substitute oils to make this because coconut oil is literally impossible to find where I live.

  11. I made this yesterday with my 2 y.o. son. Turned out great and he loved playing it. We colored it with some dehydrated and powdered purple sweet potato. Its a lovely pinky purple color. Thanks for posting the recipe!

      • I think baking soda might cause skin irritation because it’s so alkaline. Flour might work, but I can’t say for sure because I haven’t tried it.

      • We clearly have different children 😂 they loved it but it was all over the chairs and floor by the time they were done! Despite having paper down and telling them to keep it on the paper lol It does cake a bit in my vacuum cleaner but most of it came out so I’m hoping it doesn’t create a problem!

  12. Why don’t you respond to your readers’ comments? There are (at least) three very relevant, unanswered questions asked in this moon sand post.

    • Right? I kept looking for the sand in the ingredients…. but it got me to read the whole blog. At 65 I have a lot of “things” to do and get done but I’m thinking this might just be a good relaxation course for me. For some reason I bought big containers of Corn Starch at Costco and this would be one way to use it! 2 different trips and yes, I Have been tested for Alzheimer’s….

  13. My daughter just loves recipes like this where she can work it with her hands. This diy moon sand sounds like a fun project for us both:)

  14. 5 stars
    My 2 year old granddaughter LOVED this. I used plain old canola oil and we colored it with “beet juice”. (the juice that comes from grated fresh beets).
    She had a ball, and it didn’t make too much of a mess.
    I gave her a cookie sheet and some utensils and she was happy for quite a while!
    Thank you Heather!