How to Make Homemade Nontoxic Watercolor Paint

If your children love to paint, but love putting paint in their mouths even more, then a non-toxic watercolor paint recipe may be just what you need. The recipe requires many ingredients and tools found around the home, including a muffin tin (to hold the paint) and paint utensils such as clean paint brushes or fingers.

Edit Steps

Setting Up Your Work Station

  1. Identify a suitable area for painting. Since this recipe contains syrup find an area that is not carpeted or near anything valuable or easily stained.

Mixing and Pouring the Paint

  1. Combine the baking soda and vinegar together first. The mixture will produce a fizzing noise. Continue mixing until that noise stops. (You may want to mix these ingredients over the sink as the mixture may bubble up.)

  2. Add the corn syrup and corn starch to the baking soda and vinegar mixture. Stir well until the starch has dissolved.

  3. Pour into the container/muffin tin or ice cube tray. Fill each compartment only half way as you will eventually allow the mixture to dry before adding water to create the watercolor.

  4. Add food coloring to each paint-filled compartment. If you’re working with a set of primary colors, you may need to mix a few colors together to create a wider palette. When combining colors, only use a few drops at first and continue adding until you reach the color you desire.

Drying the Paint

  1. Place the filled paint container in a cool, dry spot to dry. Be aware that drying times will vary dependent on the ambient temperature. In some instances, this step could take up to two days to complete. However, if you find a good location to allow the paint to set and it’s not too humid, this process could take as little as overnight.

Using the Paint

  1. Fill a separate cup with clean water. Use these paints in just the same way you would approach using watercolor paints.

    • Dip your brush in the clean water before rubbing it over the chosen paint color.
    • Then apply to the paper.
    • Allow to dry as usual.

Edit Tips

  • If the initial mixture seems too watery, add a pinch of corn starch to compensate.
  • Even though you should dress accordingly for this project, homemade watercolor paints will not stain clothing and should come off with a good washing.
  • Store paint inside a closed zip lock bag in a cool, dry area. Because the paint contains food grade ingredients, bugs or other critters could be attracted to your paint unless it is sealed.

Edit Things You’ll Need


  • 4 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • ½ tsp light corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp corn starch and food coloring.


  • A large mixing bowl to combine your ingredients
  • A large spoon – only use a utensil that has been used with food in the past (and not paint), or is still new
  • Empty plastic ice cube tray
  • Muffin tin or small paper muffin cups to hold the paint
  • Painting utensils – an empty plastic egg carton would work well too

Edit Sources and Citations

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