2 Ingredient Moon Sand Recipe

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Homemade moon sand is one of my favorite sensory activities to keep kids busy. All you need are two simple ingredients to make your own moon sand with a moldable texture that little hands love.

Moon sand that has been shaped with a measuring cup

In my attempts to keep the girls busy over the summer, we started making what we dubbed “Moon Sand” over a decade ago from just 2 simple household ingredients. It’s hard to believe it’s 2022 and we’re still having fun with it!

It’s a really fun outdoor activity that’s perfect for play time. The reason I say outdoors is because Moon Sand is so much messier than real sand. My girls always had to change their clothes afterwards.

On rainy or snowy days, you can set up an old sheet in the kitchen and let your kids pretend they’re playing with beach sand, so cleanup is a bit easier. The best part is they’ll have a great time and you’ll get some free time.

Ready to learn how to make your own moon sand? Give this easy recipe a try and your kids will have so much fun. It’s so easy to make that some kids can make it themselves with just a little help!

Ingredients and Supplies

Moon sand ingredients, including vegetable oil in a measuring cup and flour in a large mixing bowl.
Ingredients for a double batch of moon sand: 16 cups of all-purpose flour and 2 cups of vegetable oil.
  • 8 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Dough blender
  • Tub or bin

By the Numbers: How to Make Moon Sand

Follow these simple step-by-step instructions to learn how to make this easy moon sand recipe for children of any age.

Step 1: Bake Flour.

Pre-heat your oven to 350°F. While it’s preheating, spread the flour out on baking sheet… 8 cups fits perfectly on a half-sheet cake pan. When the oven reaches temperature, place the pan in the oven and bake for 5 minutes to kill any potentially harmful bacteria. Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool completely before making your moon sand.

Baked flour on a large sheet pan.

Note: Raw flour is not edible, so if you want your moon sand to be taste-safe for your little ones, you’ll need to bake the flour first. If your kids don’t put things in their mouth, you can skip this step if you want to.

Step 2: Combine Flour and Oil.

Put all 8 cups of the flour you baked into a large mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of vegetable oil and use a dough blender to combine the mixture. It will take quite a while, usually around 10 minutes or so.

Flour and oil being mixed with a dough blender in a large metal mixing bowl.

Step 3: Check the Consistency.

When everything is completely and evenly incorporated, the sand should hold its form when you squeeze it, and easily break back up into sand.

If your mixture is too wet, add more flour. If it’s too dry and crumbles easily, add more oil. Make adjustments until it reaches the proper consistency.

Moon sand that holds together well when squeezed in your hand.

Step 4: Put Moon Sand Into Tub.

When you have a good consistency, transfer the moon sand mixture to a large container, tub or sand table.

Homemade moon sand in a white plastic tub.

Step 5: Add Toys to Tub.

Once you’re happy with the amount of moon sand in your tub, you can create a fun sensory experience. Add toys, figurines, buckets, beach toys, measuring cups, shells, spoons, straws or other items to it. Then place it outside and let your children play freely with it.

Homemade moon sand in a white tub with buckets, a pink plastic shovel, a unicorn and a sand castle.

Tips for Making the Best DIY Moon Sand

Answers to all of your questions about making this taste safe moon sand recipe at home, including tips and substitution ideas.

Which type of oil is best?

You can use any type of oil you like, although I don’t recommend solid coconut oil. If you want taste-safe moon sand, you’ll want to use an edible oil like vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil or liquid coconut oil. Otherwise, baby oil works too (it’s what we used when we first started making moon sand)!

How to color moon sand?

If you’re seeing tons of vibrant moon sand colors around the internet and wondering how it’s done, I’ve discovered that most of them are a different type of moon sand made from colored play sand, cornstarch and oil. Since these recipes use play sand, it’s not taste safe.

I’ve experimented with coloring moon sand and it’s difficult to get vibrant colors with all food-safe ingredients.

Three ways of coloring moon sand - mica way is the clear winner.

I’ve tried adding both regular and gel food coloring directly to moon sand and separately to the vegetable oil before combining it with the flour. Even using a whole bottle of regular food coloring isn’t enough to get great looking colors.

It’s because the moisture in moon sand comes from oil, which doesn’t mix well with water-based food coloring. You end up with small clumps of food coloring throughout the sand rather than an even color.

For a good taste safe option, some people have had success using Kool-Aid packets for coloring. And you may also be able to use powdered food coloring or an oil-based food coloring.

As far as coloring options that aren’t food safe, liquid soap colorant has the same issue as food coloring and does not work well. You could barely even see the color from the soap colorant when I tried it.

Mica powder gives the most vibrant, vivid colors out of anything we’ve tried, and you can add it directly to the prepared moon sand. Tempura paint powder would work as well. Just remember these ingredients aren’t taste safe, so use with caution if you have younger kids.

How to scent moon sand

Flavoring oils are the best choice for scenting moon sand for kids that are likely to try and eat it. You can use essential oils, but they aren’t recommended for ingesting so don’t use them if you want it to be taste safe.

Gluten free moon sand option

If your little one has a gluten sensitivity, you can use gluten free flour or corn starch in place of regular flour. You may have to play with the oil to flour ratio a bit to get a good consistency since every gluten free flour has slightly different ingredients.

I recommend starting with the same 8:1 ratio of flour to water. Then you can adjust by adding more flour or oil, as needed.

Sensory bin ideas

Moon sand makes a great addition to sensory bins if you have kids that need extra stimulation.

Small blue sensory table filled with moon sand, half regular, half blue, with a unicorn, blue fish and shells.

Some great ideas for sensory play include:

  • For a fun “beach” experience, put in one or more large plastic containers with sand toys and shells.
  • For a space theme, spread out on a shallow tray with different shapes like stars and planets so it feels like they’re playing on the surface of the moon.
  • To work on gross motor skills, put in a tub with cookie cutters, measuring cups, different molds, spoons and other items.
  • Make a zoo scene and add animal figurines that your child may see at the zoo.
  • Dinosaur lovers will adore a prehistoric theme filled with different dinosaurs and plants.
Tub of moon sand with plastic dinosaurs and buckets.

How much to fill a sand table?

I love sand tables because they’re great for open-ended play. If you want to fill your sand table with moon sand instead of regular play sand, you’ll need to know how much your table holds before making a huge batch.

I’ve found that most sand tables measure the sand capacity in weight rather than volume. For reference, one pound of sand is usually equal to 1 ⅓ cups. So, if your table holds 20 pounds of sand, for example, you’ll need 27 ⅔ cups of moon sand to fill it.

Since each batch in this recipe makes about 9 cups, if you triple this recipe it will just about fill a table of this size.

Storage tips

Moon sand should be stored in an airtight container to keep it from drying out. As long as it’s stored properly, it will last for a long time. Ziplock bags work as do inexpensive plastic containers from the dollar store.

However, compared to other sensory materials we make, it tends to last longer, even if you leave it out uncovered since it’s oil based rather than water based. So if you accidentally forget to put it away one day, it may still be usable.

More sensory activities for kids

Buy instead of DIY

If you want to explore moon sand kits instead of making your own, the closest thing is kinetic sand, although it feels a bit more like wet sand than the dry sand consistency of homemade moon sand.

You can get bags of kinetic sand that you can use with your own toys and kinetic sand kits that include toys and other items to make playing with it even more fun.

Close up of homemade moon sand

Best Moon Sand Recipe

This easy DIY moon sand recipe uses only 2 ingredients for hours of fun! Little kids' hands love playing with this magic sand alone or as part of a sensory bin.
4.24 from 372 votes
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 9 cups

Supplies

  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil - or baby oil

Tools

  • Sheet pan
  • Measuring cups
  • Mixing bowl
  • Dough blender
  • Air-tight container for storage
  • Small toys, molds, etc.

Instructions

  • Pre-heat your oven to 350°F. Bake the flour for 5 minutes, then allow it to cool.
    Baked flour on a large sheet pan.
  • Put the baked flour and oil into a large mixing bowl and mix with a dough blender until well combined.
    Flour and oil being mixed with a dough blender in a large metal mixing bowl.
  • Make sure the consistency is right. It should hold together when squeezed and break back apart easily.
    Moon sand that holds together well when squeezed in your hand.
  • Transfer to a large container and let your kids play with it like they would with actual sand.
    Homemade moon sand in a white plastic tub.
  • Add to a sensory bin with other fun things for even more enjoyment.
    Homemade moon sand in a white tub with buckets, a pink plastic shovel, a unicorn and a sand castle.

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20 thoughts on “2 Ingredient Moon Sand Recipe”

  1. how much does this recipe make? Looking to make some in my classroom of 21 students to each have about a sandwich size bag full.

    1. You’ll get about 8 cups of the moon sand with the recipe as written. To figure out how much to make, start by deciding how many cups of moon sand you want each student to have. Then multiply that by the numbers of students you have to figure out how many cups you need to make.

  2. I have also added a few drops of tea tree oil for the nice scent and to make it festive for parties/events, a dash of edible glitter.

    1. You can definitely try making moon sand with gluten free flour. The ratios will be different since wheat flour absorbs oil differently than gluten free flour, and every gluten free flour blend is made with different ingredients.

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