How To Make Colored Sand

My friend had some extra sand from filling her sandbox and gave me a bucket thinking I could do something with it. What do you do with a bucket of sand? Oh, so many things! But first you have to make it fun by adding a little color! We tried a few different methods and did not have much success until we did it the simple way…Just add color! Quick, easy and you get to create some great colors for some fun projects. 

UPDATE: We’ve played around with some other ways to make colored sand thanks to suggestions from readers. Check out How To Make Colored Sand With Chalk AND don’t miss our Speed Sand Art Video below!

Make Your Own Colored Sand - in bags


What You Need:

  • Food coloring (we had a box of neon colors, too)
  • Baking pans
  • Oven set to 200 degrees
  • Water
  • Spoon or stirring stick
  • a Sifter of some sort(ours was some leftover tulle rubber band to a container)


Step 1: Sift Sand to get out any big rocks or unwanted debris. We made our own sifter by fastening some tulle over the top of a container with a rubber band and then slowly pouring sand on top while lightly shaking/bouncing the “sifter”. The kids enjoyed this part!

Step 2: Separate sand into baking dishes. Add a little water. Aim for a damp consistency but not soaking wet where extra water is visible. If you happen to add too much water, no worries. It will just take you a little longer in the drying process.

Step 3: Add food coloring to get desired color and mix the sand up well to distribute the color.

Before the oven

Step 4: Place pans in oven (set to 200 degrees) for 5 – 10 minutes. Pull the sand out when it is barely wet and let it air dry over night. If the sand is completely dried in the oven, the color tends to fade and is not as vibrant when pulled out barely wet. Once the sand is cool, I place it in a storage bag and leave it open on the back of the counter until it is dry (usually a few hours). If you happen to dry it too much or do not get the color you want, you can always add more water and color and do it again! You cannot mess this up!

After – These are snack size bags

Step 5: Now get busy and make some fun art projects! Like, Sand Art!

Check out Sand Art in action too!

(click here if you do not see the video below)

OR create a sand art bottle with sand from your recent vacation. I know a lot of people who collect sand while on vacation. What a great way to use it as a decoration rather than a bottle of sand stored in a box in your closet.

A Not So Successful Technique:

I am pretty sure this method did not work because we were using real sand. The idea is to add sand, water and color together and stir it well. Then you are supposed to let it soak over night and then remove the sand and let it dry. This method, although fun for the kids to help put together, barely added any color to the sand.


Make sure to check out an alternative way to make colored sand here with chalk!

How to make colored sand - salt and chalkHomemade Sand with salt and chalk

This was originally posted in March 2011, as it is summer time we are sharing some of our old fun with all our new readers again! AND we just created the new video to go along with it!

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  1. What a great idea. I can think of so many things to use it for. I hope you stop by DIY Home Sweet Home and link up to More The Merrier Monday.

  2. I buy the plain white sand at the dollar store (used in floral arraignments) , pour it into a sandwich bag and then just add food color. I mix it right in the bag until I get the color I want, never have to worry about it being too wet or baking it. Just another example of how to color sand.

  3. Pingback: How To Make Sand Art | Fun On a Dime

  4. Very good timing! We are going to the beach in 2-3 weeks time and will be bringing sand back to craft with! This will be great help!

    Thank you for linking up to Kids Get Crafty 🙂


  5. This is a great idea! I’ve featured you today at Craftastic Monday. Stop by & grab a Featured On button when you can & can’t wait to see what you link up next:)

  6. Pingback: Make Colored Sand | Frugal Fun - Crafts for Kids - Dollar Store Mom

  7. Thank you so much! I’m throwing a circus themed birthday party for my daughter in a couple weeks and i’m planning on doing sand art as one of the activities. I remembered in school crushing up sidewalk chalk to do this with. I’m going to save my chalk and try this.

  8. Now take your colored sand and bake it for about an hour 200 to300 degrees (to completely remove all moisture),then let cool.Next spread sand out on a cookie sheet or similar spread thin as possible.Now spray sand with SCOTCH GUARD a nice even coat,mix around and repeat.Now wait for it to dry,then mix sand around and repeat the spraying and thats it, Now you have just made MAGIC SAND,which will keep them busy for hours building sand castles n stuff under water.

  9. I am looking to make colored sand to put in a centerpiece arrangement. If I add water on top on the sand in the vase will it make all the color come out? Thanks so much for the help!

  10. I really liked your project. I also liked that you showed your less than perfect results! It shows your audience, at least me anyway, that we are all not Martha Stewart moms but it should not prevent us from experimenting and trying to have a little fun with our kids. Even if things don’t come out perfectly, it’s the time that they will remember you spent with them! Thanks!

  11. Oh my gosh! This is great! I saw the colored sand at a store and bought some ~ well, just three bags, because it was so expensive. I used it in my yard between stones and it looked really cool. Now, from your great “how to”, I can do it myself and not spend a gazillion dollars. Thanks ~ Patricia

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  13. Planning b day party for a 13 and 10 yr old. I’ve been severly sick and they had no party for 6
    Years. Any suggestions or ideas? Thanks any will help.

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  15. Thank you for posting how to make colored sand. I live in California and I’m making homemade Zen Gardens for my friends and family in the midwest. I plan on using sand straight from the beach. I may try coloring sea shells as well.

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  17. After looking all over to purchase colored sand I LOVE the idea of saving money and doing it myself! I have 2 boys, ages 2 and 5, and I just know they will make a complete mess of this stuff. They like to add water to their sandbox so they can make things. My question is, when the sand becomes wet, does the color bleed?

  18. Thank you, I am going to try this for my wedding. We are doing a blended family sand union. Bride, groom and 6 children. We all need our own color! If easy enough I will plan some play time with the grand kids to make sand art!

  19. Just wanted to share my 2cents. 🙂 I’m dying sand for my wedding and went over every tutorial I could find. In the end I decided to use rit liquid fabric dye. I worked amazingly. I bought play sand from Home Depot, sifted it, decided it into 5 different containers and dyed each one a different color to represent me, my husband, and our 3 kids.

    A few pointes. I did not moisten the sand before adding dye. The navy blue came out black. I added a lil aquamarine to make it the correct color. The purple came out LIGHT purple. I added a lil navy blue :). Be prepared to play with your colors. I also just mixed it right in the container shaking vigorously. Then when I had my desired color I just left the lid off to dye. Shaking it once everyday or so. I had lots of time before the wedding though and wasn’t worried about it drying fast. Hope this helps some one.

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