Drying The Salt Dough – Securing The Crafted Works Of Art

Salt dough is easy to make, very cheap, free from harmful additives, can be colored in bright colors, and can be shaped flexibly. In short: ideal handicraft material. In order for the soft works of art to have a long life, however, they have to harden during drying.

Drying brings stability

Salt dough is a great craft material that has been enjoyed by young and old for many decades. Making the mass and then tinkering is fun and elicits a lot of creativity from us. After the work is finished, the handicraft process is far from over. If you want to admire the results longer, you still have to dry them. As a result, they no longer lose their given shape and remain durable for a long time.

Drying salt figures, but how?

There are basically two options for drying salt dough figures:

  • air drying
  • Drying in the oven

Both methods allow the dough to dry, but they cannot be used arbitrarily for optimal results.

Which method is more suitable depends crucially on the figures themselves. Of course, it also depends on whether there is an oven nearby.

Flat or relief figures?

The high temperature in the oven dries the salt dough faster than the air can. However, the oven is not always the best choice.

  • The oven is suitable for flat figures
  • also for uniformly shaped works of art

If you want to dry salt figures that are relief-like or thicker in some places, you should avoid the high-speed oven. Even if small children would like to hold their finished works of art in their hands immediately, a little patience is called for. If the work is uneven, the kiln will simply not give you nice results, they will be disfigured by the heat. After that, one or the other tear can roll down.

  • uneven shapes prefer to air dry for a long time
  • the forms are preserved

Dry the salt dough in the oven

  1. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Carefully place the salt dough figures on the parchment paper to avoid breaking them. They should not touch so as not to stick to each other later.
  3. Heat can crack dough or ruin beautiful artwork with unsightly bubbles. Brush the figures with neutral cooking oil. This makes the dough more stretchy and stays nice and flat.
  4. First, only heat the oven to 50 °C.
  5. Slide the tray onto the middle rail and leave the oven door ajar for at least the first hour.
  6. Keep the low temperature: one hour per 1cm of thickness.
  7. Then increase the temperature to 120 °C.
  8. Finish baking your creations at this temperature for about 1 hour. Smaller figures could be ready a little earlier, larger figures can remain in the oven for up to 75 minutes.

Slow and gentle air drying

Air drying is a time-consuming process that requires patience and a suitable place where the figures can lose their moisture without being damaged.

  1. Line a large tray with parchment paper.
  2. Distribute the dough figures on it, each with a little distance.
  3. Place the tray in a dark room where there is little humidity. Damp bathrooms, kitchens with steaming dishes, and laundry rooms are less suitable.
  4. Turn the figures over every few days if you can without damaging them.
  5. Test whether the figures have dried sufficiently. To do this, gently press the figures with a finger. Feel whether the pond is still giving way slightly or is completely hard.
  6. Fat figures can occasionally release salt when drying, but this is not really a problem.
  7. When the figures are completely dry, you can customize them as you wish.

Conclusion for fast readers

  1. Stability: Drying salt figures tightens the shape and gives durability
  2. Methods: Slowly air dry or quickly in the oven
  3. First step: Always let the figures dry for a few hours in the air.
  4. Oven: Suitable for flat and even works
  5. Temperature: 1 hour at 50 °C per cm of thickness; then approx. 1 hour at 120°C; leave gap open
  6. Tip: Brush with oil to prevent cracks and blisters
  7. Air drying: Suitable for relief and uneven works
  8. Place: In a dry and dark room; approx. 2 days per cm of thickness
  9. Test: Press the figure lightly with your finger. If it gives, it’s not dry yet
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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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