By Audra D.

Buying dough and modeling clay at the store for playtime can get expensive. This two-ingredient cloud dough is made of materials that you likely already have at home! Not only will you end up with an inexpensive playtime alternative, you can discuss the science behind how it is made. You can even customize your dough by experimenting with extra add-ins and other liquid ingredients. Check out Cool Doughs, Putties, Slimes, & Goops on Hoopla for even more recipes to explore!


Materials needed

  • ½ cup of cornstarch 
  • ¼ cup of inexpensive hair conditioner 
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring utensils 
  • Food coloring or glitter (optional)



  1. Pour about ¾ of your cornstarch into a mixing bowl.
  2. Mix in half of the conditioner. Fold the two ingredients together.
  3. Continue mixing in a spoonful of conditioner at a time until your dough starts to form.
  4. Keep mixing, folding, and experimenting with your dough until it is the right consistency. Your dough should feel light, silky, and smooth.
    1. If your dough is too slimy, add more cornstarch.
    2. If your dough is too powdery, add more conditioner.
  5. Add in any food coloring, glitter, or other supplies you would like!
  6. Be sure to store your dough in an airtight container when you are done playing and experimenting.

    Questions to ask

    • What other liquids can you mix with cornstarch to make homemade dough? Try different liquids such as water, milk, or vegetable oil mixed with cornstarch using supplies from your own kitchen. Which liquid makes the best dough?
    • What ratio of ingredients did you use to make the perfect dough? For example, did you use twice as much cornstarch as condition (2:1) or three times as much cornstarch (3:1)?
    • Is the ratio of ingredients the same for other liquids? Do you need more, less, of the same amount of cornstarch when using water, milk, or oil?

    How it works

    Cornstarch is a complex carbohydrate extracted from corn kernels. Cornstarch is common in many recipes and is often used to thicken sauces or soups. The cornstarch in your dough helps to make it thicker and more solid. The hair conditioner is a liquid made of water and many other ingredients. The conditioner helps to bind the cornstarch together and turn your mixture into dough. By mixing the cornstarch and conditioner, your ingredients go through a physical change. Your ingredients change shape and appearance, but a new chemical substance is not formed. You could still separate the cornstarch and the conditioner in your dough in the right chemistry lab!

    Audra D.
    Adult & Teen Librarian

    Audra D.

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