Homemade (Nontoxic) Colored Powder

DIY color run powderRecently you may have seen Trey and I playing around with colored powder for a fun photoshoot. I had saved the powder from a Color Run race I ran this past year because I thought it could lead to some fun photos one day. After those pictures, I started wondering if it was possible to make your own colorful powder at home. Good newsโ€”it is. And it’s completely nontoxic and cheap!

Color powderAs you can see, we decided to go with red, white, and blue to celebrate the 4th of July today, but you can make this powder in any color.ย 

I researched a bunch of different methods for making your own powder, and the resource I found most helpful was this video, although I have my own tweaks and tips that I learned as I experimented with a few batches.

Make your own colored powderSupplies:
-1 cup corn starch
-1/3 – 1/2 cup water
-1 container icing color (1 ounce). I used Wilton icing colors, but any food dye can work well.
-mixing bowl
-latex gloves
-blender or food processor

Step One: In the mixing bowl, stir together the corn starch and water. You want a consistency that feels like a thick paste but will ooze off your mixing spoon given enough time. Now is a good time to put those gloves on. Next, mix in the food dye. I used the entire 1 ounce bottle to get the vibrant colors you see (red and blue).

How to make colored powder for photosStep Two: Allow the mixture to dry out. I placed my mixing bowls high up on a shelf in our kitchen and left them there for two days. You’ll know the mixture has dried out when you see cracks in the surface.ย 

Step Three: Place the cracking powder on a baking sheet. I heated up my oven to 350ยฐF. Once it had completely preheated, I turned it off, placed the baking sheet with the powder inside, and left the oven door open just a crack. This dried the powder out even more, as it allowed moisture to escape out the (barely) open oven door. I allowed the powder to dry out in this way for 30 minutes. If you have pressed the powder into a thin, even layer before baking, you’ll begin to see cracks in the surface again, indicating that it has dried out.

Step Four: Pulse the dried-out powder in the blender or food processor until all the clumps are gone and you have a super fine and lightweight powder. Store in a ziplock bag until you are ready to use it.

DIY colored powderYou’re probably wondering how well this powder comes out of clothes. To be honest, it really depends how much food dye you use and how you wash your clothes after. Cold water helps. Not allowing stained clothing to sit too long is also a good rule of thumb. If you do decide to use colored powder with clothing that you really love, I would recommend dry cleaning it instead of washing at home. I’ve been able to get all the color out of clothing before, but the most difficult thing is probably shoes. My best advice is to quickly blot shoes with a cool, damp rag to try and remove as much colored powder as quickly as you can. Also, don’t wear your fanciest shoes. ๐Ÿ™‚

How to make your own color run powderHomemade color powderAlthough this powder is safe to handle, inhale, and use outdoors (around trees and grass), it does make a mess. Of course! So be considerate when choosing an area to use colored powder in. And if you have to get in a car afterward, bring a towel to sit on!

Color powder photo shootsOh, and if you’re wondering how we got the white powder so white, here’s the secret: that’s just plain corn starch. ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy 4th of July, everyone! xo. Emma


Credits// Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Emma Chapman and Jeremy Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.ย 

  • That looks like so much fun!!! My kids would love it, but I think it would be fun to do some kind of artwork with it!! Happy 4th!

    • I am a cake decorator and vodka works much faster then water, the vodka will evaporate very quick. Can leave over night and it will be dried out by morning and will not need to put it in the oven and take the chance of your gorgeous powder baking and turning brownish. Vodka will be totally evaporated so need to worry that there will be any left over that will harm a child. Love this Article and pictures. Awesome.

      • Good thinking. However, i need atleast 50kg of the thing for our charity “Fun Run” so that much vodka i doubt will work for me. anyways, good idea for small amount of the stuff.

        • How much corn starch did you use? Iโ€™m just confused about how much this recipe will make

    • Depending on how much food coloring you use. Colors like dark blue or purple usually come out after a couple of washes but lighter colors come off pretty easy. Just to be safe I wouldnโ€™t wear any good clothes to a color fight.

  • Awesome, and so easy to make! I never would have guessed. It’s great to host your own ‘color run’ haha.

  • I never thought about making my own! This would be so much fun to make and then use for a powder fight with friends maybe? Thank you so much for this ๐Ÿ™‚

  • The blue powder makes me think of Genie in Aladdin for some reason? It totally looks like Emma is summoning Robin Williams! That’s a tutorial I would like to see.

  • This is incredible! I loved your take on a 4th July post..its so refreshing and unique..In India we celebrate a festival called Holi which is all about playing with this powdered color, throwing it on each other, friends, family and foes and forgetting all old woes..its lovely..you should visit here and check it out sometime. It happens in March every year! Fo3 now Happy 4th of July!! <3

  • This looks like a lot of fun although I couldn’t think of a practical reason why I would make colored powder other than to take really cool pictures. I think the kids would have a blast with it and it’s great that it’s non-toxic on top of it!

  • It can. If you have ever gotten food dye on your fingers while baking it’s very much like that, except that you are working with more dye then any recipe would likely call for. So, I suggest using gloves while you are making the powder.

    I’ve been able to get the color out of all the clothes I’ve worn while using this powder as well but I was careful and even had one item dry cleaned. So, I think it is possible to stain clothes, if you left them to soak in the powder (after use) or didn’t properly clean the items.


  • I’ve seen a few DIY’s like this and I’ve been wanting to try them so badly! My siblings and my parents went on a color run a while back, but I was away at the time and wasn’t able to go so we’ve been trying to get one together just for our own backyard. Love these tips!


  • That stuff is not safe to inhale. Should people inhale cornstarch? No. Doesn’t matter what color it is. It’s not a good idea to inhale anything but air. The risk with inhaling colored cornstarch is that it can cause irritation to your lungs, which can potentially lead to a pneumonia.

  • How cool would this be for one of those Trash the Wedding Dress photo shoots. If I didn’t want to keep mine forever and mind risking a couple of stains I would so do this!!

  • This looks so cool! I wonder what would happen if you purposely tried to stain your clothes… I think it would look cool! Keep it up ๐Ÿ™‚

  • hello would like to know where you got the rack that your cocktail snow cones are on …..i love your site it’s really down to earth so a lot of us can do a lot of your cooking and diy you make it fun …thanks

  • This is awesome!! I will have to consider this when taking start of the year photos with my class next year!! The pictures come out so cool and the kids will love it I am sure!!

    Thanks for this Emma and team!! Love it! <3

  • So fun! I have always wanted to participate in the Color Run! It is definitely on my bucket list. I will have to try this! I think it would be fun to use with a group of friends, and it would certainly result in some awesome photos!

  • Omg, i have to make this colored powder. In my country there some events centered around it.

  • The colour is so bright and vibrant! I will definitely attempt this in the future for an event or activity (I feel this is the sort of thing kids will go wild for) ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Out of all of the recipes I’ve found, this is the best and most simple so far! Thank you for making it easy to replicate.

  • Thanks for the directions of making this powder! Do you know how to set the color in to the clothes? I would love to be able to set the color in. Thanks, Rhonda

  • Hello. Thank you for the recipe and instructions! I was wondering how much color powder this recipe makes? Thank you!

  • Just used this recipe for the paint fight I am doing for my engagement photos this weekend. I excited to see how it turns out. Thank you!

  • Hi, I want to use it to make textile paint. So it must not wash out. What can I do to prevent it from washing out and stay vibrant on the fabric ??

  • Does this stain the bowls? I could only use nice Tupperware containers.

  • Hi! Itโ€™s a great idea…tho we had a epic fail …we attempted to make it for a color run to raise money for cheerleading …unfortunately it got moldy while we were tryig to let it dry out/before we cooked it ๐Ÿ™
    Any advise other than starting over?
    Weโ€™re wondering now if we used too much water or it had something to do with people touching it with their hands/not always wearing gloves?
    Thanks for any ideas you may have ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Colour run powder is made of very fine dust, which may get in your eyes. Protect your eyes by wearing laboratory protective eyewear, sunglasses or swim goggles. You may also have to scrub it harder to completely remove the dust. You may also wear gloves or a hat if you are going to report for work the next day.

  • Holi powder has risen in popularity over recent years with applications in everything from fun runs to photo shoots. Itโ€™s a time to welcome the new season, honor rebirth, and to celebrate peace, unity and joy! We hope you have fun with a Holi event this year!

  • Could you put this in balloons and shoot at them with either a pellet gun or gun for a gender reveal that would puff up in the air with the color? It looks like it could but searched comments for if someone used it for that and didn’t see any.

  • Hi

    Quick question, how does one use the above recipe?? I would like to make it for my little one and do his hair in different colours for the up coming holidays.

  • Hi there, I’m just wondering how long you can store the powder for?

    • Make sure there is absolutely no moisture in it otherwise it will get moldy and smell. Make sure to keep it in an airtight container or vacuum sealer it

  • I made this and 2 of my colors didn’t come out as powder, they are coarse and don’t spread. What do you think could be the reason to that?

  • Thank you so much for the diy on how to make this powder. I made 9lbs of blue powder for my niece’s gender reveal. We put it in the muffler of our big bud tractor. It turned out great!

  • When letting mine dry out for the two days, it got moldy?! What did I do wrong??

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