Homemade Paint Recipe

Jan 14, 2013

If your children are anything like the hooligans in my home daycare, you've probably learned that when it comes to painting, a set of store-bought watercolours doesn't last very long. It can be frustrating to see the paints used up so quickly, and inconvenient to have to stock up regularly. I know. We've been there!

Paint on paper

Great news! We started making our own watercolours a year ago, using a few simple ingredients, and we've never looked back. The paints are easy and inexpensive to make, and the quality is equal to or better than some of the dollar store paints we've used in the past. Some neat stuff happens when you mix the ingredients, so be sure to involve the children in the process!

What You'll Need:


  • 8 tbsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp golden corn syrup
  • 4 tbsp corn starch
  • food colouring (liquid or gels)
  • mini muffin tin (or ice cube tray or plastic egg carton) to hold your paints
  • bowl for mixing your ingredients in (a 2 c. measuring cup is perfect — it's large enough to contain everything and the spout makes for easy pouring when transferring the mixture to your muffin tin)
  • craft sticks for stirring in the food colouring

How It's Made:

  1. In your bowl or measuring cup, combine the baking soda and vinegar. The kids will love this part! Once the fizzing stops, add the corn syrup and corn starch.
  2. Stir for a minute or so until the powders are dissolved. The children will be fascinated by the not-quite liquid, not-quite-solid goo they've created.
  3. Pour your mixture into the compartments of your container, and stir in your colouring. You may want to do this part yourself as the food colouring will stain anything that it comes into contact with. A small dab of colouring gel, or 5 to 6 drops of liquid food colouring, will give you a nice, intense colour.
  4. Stir the colour in completely. Once you've finished stirring, the paints will look wet on the surface. You'll need to let them set until they've hardened and are dry and firm to the touch (24 to 48 hours).

Here's a shot of our freshly mixed paints.

Mixed paints still wet

Ours usually set up quite quickly because I leave them near the fireplace overnight. If the paints start to look mottled while they're drying, or if they crack on the surface, that's OK. This is what they'll look like after they've set.

Dried mixed paints

Just have the kids swirl a wet paintbrush into them and get painting! The colours go on bright and glossy, and they dry with a slightly chalky feel to them.


These paints are not archival quality, or meant to be used for creating art that will last forever, but for little ones who like to get creative on a regular basis, they're perfect! And as a mom, I love that they're natural, non-toxic and non-staining.

Painted picture

When the kids are finished painting, simply give the paints a quick swipe with a wet brush to clean the surface of the paint, and store them uncovered until next time. If you'd like to see more of my easy and inexpensive crafts and activities, pop by and visit us at Happy Hooligans!

Article Author Jackie Currie
Jackie Currie

Read more from Jackie here.

Jackie Currie is a mother, daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind the blog Happy Hooligans. A self-proclaimed glitterphobe, she specializes in easy, affordable arts & crafts and good, old-fashioned play.

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