Is there a way to make air dry clay food safe?
Sculpting with air dry clay is so easy and fun. It doesn’t require special tools or equipment (like an expensive and big kiln). Air drying clay is so versatile. You can make endless crafts with it. But is it suitable for making mugs and plates to hold drinks and food?
You can make mugs, plates, or bowls with air dry clay, but only for decorative purposes. Even though air dry clay is not toxic, it’s not food-safe even after glazing or using waterproof sealants. But let’s dig deeper! Why can’t you use air dry clay for food, and what can you use to make food-safe mugs and containers.
Is air dry clay toxic?
Most air drying clays are non-toxic, natural, and water-based. It’s safe to use for children. Always assist your child while crafting air-drying clay.
Ingredients differ from brand to brand. You should always check the label before giving it to your child or if you have sensitive skin. For example, Crayola air drying clay contains gluten (wheat flour) which may cause allergic reactions (when accidentally swallowed).
However, epoxy air dry clay is cured by chemical reactions. It’s also advised to wear gloves while handling the clay (people reported getting skin reactions). It’s not suitable for children!
Can you drink from air dry clay?
Although air dry clay may hold the water for a short period of time (longer if it’s sealed with a waterproof varnish), it’s not advisable to drink that water. Air drying clay is not intended for making pottery for food or beverages.
Hot drinks may speed up the deterioration of the clay. Also, chemicals from the sealant or paint may leach into your drink.
Is air dry clay food safe?
Even though the clay is non-toxic, it’s not food-safe either. Crayola states on their craft safety page that you shouldn’t use air dry clay to make containers or vessels that will hold unpacked food.
This not only stands for drinks or ‘wet’ food (soups, cooked food, sauces, etc.), you shouldn’t eat dry food either from an air drying clay vessel.
You may think that it’s okay to keep snacks or fruits in a clay bowl. Many snacks leave a greasy or oily residue, fruits may leak sticky juice. You won’t be able to wash the dish. Cleaning with a wet cloth isn’t hygienic.
It’s okay to make a bowl or plate to store wrapped candies (for Halloween).
How can you make air dry clay waterproof?
You can make air dry clay waterproof using a glaze or water-proof sealant or varnish. However, this doesn’t mean you can use your craft to keep water in it for a long period of time.
Air drying clay exposed to water (yes, the sealed ones too) will disintegrate or develop mold from the inside out (water will find its way).
Why shouldn’t you use air dry clay for mugs and plates?
There are several reasons why you shouldn’t make a functional mug or plate with air dry clay. I’ve already talked about not being food safe. But let’s see a couple of other factors that you want to consider.
- Air dry clay is fragile. Even though some types of air dry clay harden well after drying, they don’t have the strength of ceramics or stoneware.
- In lots of cases, air dry clay cracks while drying. Cracks can vary in size, some may be so small you wouldn’t even notice, but water will get into those cracks and break the item from within or develop mold.
- You can’t add a glaze. The glaze added to pottery makes the items water-proof and food safe. These glazes require firing at a high temperature. Most manufacturers don’t advise baking air dry clays in the oven. They definitely won’t resist the firing temperatures.
- Even after using a water-roof sealant, there is no way to properly wash the containers.
How to use air dry clay for mugs and plates?
I still encourage you to make mugs and plates with air drying clay but don’t drink from them.
You can make cute mugs and cups for your favorite succulent or small plants.
Create personalized mugs and use them to store pencils, pens, paper clips, etc.
You can also add potpourri and decorate your shelves or table.
You can decorate a ceramic or glass mug with air dry clay, for example, to create a vase.
You can pour water into it but washing the container isn’t advised. Water can seep under the clay. It will either break and fall off or develop mold. I like to use polymer clay for these types of crafts.
What kind of clay do you use for mugs?
To create food-safe and waterproof mugs you need traditional clay, stoneware, or ceramics. All of them need to be cured in a kiln. Some also need to be glazed (with a food-safe glaze), which also needs to be fired.
A kiln is expensive and huge. Most people don’t have access to a kiln.
If you want to try making mugs, bowls, plates, or other containers that are food safe, take a class in ceramics or pottery. They will give you access to a kiln.
You can also ask someone in your town to fire it for you. Or there are also public kilns that are available for rent. Unless you have a lot of items to fire, it’s not a budget-friendly option. This article will help you find a pottery firing service.
You can also buy an electric kiln, or if you are ambitious enough, you can build one in your yard.
Conclusion about creating mugs and plates with air dry clay
Sadly, you can’t create functional mugs, plates, or bowls from air dry clay for food or beverages.
The main reasons why air dry clay is not suitable for mugs and bowls are:
- it’s not 100% waterproof (not even after sealed) so you can’t wash it,
- it’s fragile,
- cracks occur often, so water can break the clay from the inside out.
Although you can make awesome decorative items for your home or give them as gifts.
For example, you can create a cute mug plant holder, a beautifully painted potpourri plate, a faceted bowl for stationary, or your keys, etc.