When I first saw these painted salt structures on Pinterest, about 5 years ago, I knew then that this was definitely something I wanted try with my charges. However, I worried that it was one of those “too good to be true” pins. So I put it to the back of my mind and forgot about it. Fast forward to earlier this summer and it reappeared on my Instagram feed. Clearly it was a sign that it had put it off for too long and now was the time to try it. The perfect opportunity presented itself this week when EC wanted to plan out what activities we could do together before he goes to sleep away camp.

Warning, this is not an activity you can do on a whim. It takes a couple of days to prepare the structures before you can paint them.

Make sure you follow my craft board on Pinterest for more ideas. Don’t forget to save the pin for later.

You will need:

*these could be anything like sand castle molds, cups, bowls etc.

painted salt structure

To prepare the structures you need to mix the salt and the water together. It should have the consistency of damp salt that crumples. There shouldn’t be any dry spots. If after mixing it together you still find these patches add ¼ tsp of water.

Press your damp salt into your mold. Think along the lines of making a sand castle. The more compacted it is the better your chance of it coming out in one piece.

painted salt structure

Now leave your mold for 12 hours for it to dry. After the 12hrs is up carefully take the structure out of the mold; in the same way you would with a sand castle. I found that the plastic cups we used were easier to get them out of than the pottery ones. They also looked smoother with less crumbled parts. Leave them to dry for 12-24 hours before you paint them.

I actually left ours in the mold for 24 hours because I forgot to take them out before I went to bed. In total they were left for about 50 hours before we got around to paint them. By that point, I feel, that they were beginning to dry out too much and looked like they would disintegrate. They didn’t. Thankfully.

Painted salt structures

Both YC and EC found it fascinating to decorate them. The liquid water paints start to seep and blend the colours together.

Painted salt structures

Even BB and his friend who is only 13 months decorated one, with help obviously. BB screamed while I tried to get the apron on him, but as soon as we started using the pipettes he stopped and wanted to do more. He loved squeezing it to fill and empty the pipette. His friend also loved it and screamed every time we paused to get a new colour.

Painted salt structures

EC decided he wanted to give his structure a ruined look to it.

Once you have painted then leave them to dry for awhile before moving them. I think if they are still standing when I get back to work on Monday I may let BB play with them with his toy hammer as part of some sensory play.

If you enjoyed making these painted salt structures be sure to check out my salt painting and marbled thank you cards.

Pin for later:

These beautiful painted salt structures may take a while to make but they are certainly fun to create with kids.