It’s no secret that we love waterbeads around here! Over the years, we have shared a lot of different ways to play with water beads, and every time we do we hear the same questions: Where do you find water beads, and how do you color them?
While it is really easy to find colored water beads online, finding rainbow packs of water beads in stores isn’t all that easy. However, dyeing water beads is extremely easy and clear water beads can be found at any store that sells floral supplies. Plus it is typically A LOT cheaper to buy clear water beads.
How to Dye Water Beads
I picked up everything to do this at Walmart. You can also find these supplies at craft stores like Micheals, Hobby Lobby, or Jo-Annes.
- To start you will need to fill up a container with water for each color that you plan on making and add in the desired amount of gel food dye. A little will go a long way!
- Gel dyes are oil based so your water may have clumps of color in it. To fix this add a dash of white vinegar – if you only add in a splash it won’t make your water beads stink. If the color looks pretty evenly distributed you can skip adding in vinegar.
- Then pour in your water beads! Remember these tiny little beads are gonna expand – just like with the gel food dyes, a little goes a long way. My rule of thumb when dyeing sensory materials is that it is a million times easier to add more than it is to try and remove excess.
- As the water beads expand they will absorb the colored water – easy peasy! Once your water beads are fully expanded, drain off the excess water and rinse them really well. If you skip this step your kids will have technicolored hands…and gel food dye is a major pain to wash off.
- Once rinsed play!
We have so much fun with these!
Water beads are a particular sensory material because of how they interact with water. If you plan on making this do not make your water beads in large batches unless you are only making/storing one color. If you try to store multiple colors together they will they will absorb any excess colored water and bleed into each other until they are all a lovely shade of brown. While it would probably make a fascinating science experiment, it would be very frustrating to make a big batch at once only to have it that shade of brown when you pull it out to play. Our will usually remain their dyed colors for 48 hours when mixed with other colors.
If we plan on making a large batch of water beads ahead of time we store each color separately and only pull out a small amount of each to create the sensory bin.
More Water Bead Ideas!