• Sarah Caughron

Salt Painting: Science + Process Art

My 5 and 8-year-olds LOVED doing this activity, and I think we got some great art!

If you aren't familiar with process art, this is the early childhood buzzword for art that focuses more on the PROCESS the child uses to make the art than the PRODUCT the child produces. For example, cutesy handprint art turned into an elephant is product art, while dipping a potato masher into paint and stamping it onto construction paper is process art.

Salt painting is process art because there is no right or wrong way to make the picture, and the artists get to make their own creative choices in the process.

Salt is hygroscopic. This means that it can absorb liquid water AND it can absorb water vapor in the air through a chemical action. Water is a polar molecule (which means it has two charged ends), and the polarity of water allows water molecules stick together and also have a high surface tension.

Materials Needed:

  • Granulated Salt (any table salt will work fine!)

  • Watercolors or Liquid Watercolors

  • Tray (optional)

  • Towel for clean-ups (optional)

  • Bowl to collect excess salt

  • Paintbrush or pipettes for applying color

  • Cup of water for cleaning paintbrush (if using watercolor paint palette)

  • White or clear liquid glue

  • Cardboard, paper plates, card stock, or thick/strong paper


Use liquid glue to make a design on the thick paper of your choice.

Completely cover liquid glue design in salt.

Dump excess salt into a bowl (this refuse salt can be used to cover another design!).


Make sure your watercolor (palette or liquid watercolor) is prepared and dab paintbrush or pipette into the color and apply to salt. (You want to make sure your paintbrush is really wet. It's more like dropping water droplets on the salt rather than pressing down and painting on the salt.)

Observe the adsorptive power of salt as the color adheres to the glue/salt mixture.

Our masterpieces on black cardstock.

Watercolors on white shown below.


This is a great way to practice art and letters or numbers or shapes with your little one.

Either pre-make cards with numbers/letters/shapes/words on them and have your child paint them OR help your child make the numbers/letters/shapes/words.

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