Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories At Home Art Studio Drawing Infants and Toddlers Theory and Resources

Homemade Crayons

Sara Ottomano
In the Art Studio, we are always looking for high-quality art materials. And we have learned that toddler crayons are some of the most challenging materials to find. 
Large shaped crayons in assorted colors and shapes.

The Search for Great Crayons 

We have tried purchasing different varieties of toddler crayons and have often been disappointed. We bought egg-shaped crayons that were wonderful for little hands but had a hollow-core and shattered into tiny shards when dropped. Some crayons were eco-friendly and made of food-safe materials, but their small size was too close to choking hazards for us to confidently put out for guests in the studio. We tried melting down small bits of broken crayons from past projects, but then learned that crayon companies do not advise melting at home due to the chemical fumes released into ovens during that process.  

Colorful rainbow and rock crayons on top of scribbles.

Currently in the studio, we have rock crayons at the lower drawing table that are a good size for young hands and are colorful. But each crayon is made of at least two colors, so they tend to break easily along the seams of the color pieces. We also tried out a larger gem crayon by the same company but have found that it is too large for little ones to manipulate. Both are also advertised as non-toxic, but there isn’t a lot of transparency around the ingredients. 

Our Ideal Crayons 

Throughout this search, we have honed in on what criteria we would like our toddler crayons to meet. Below are our top priorities: 

  • Safe size: The crayons need to be fairly large to avoid them becoming a choking hazard. 
  • Safe ingredients: We know that the crayons are often mouthed by our youngest visitors, so we need the ingredients to be non-toxic.  
  • Graspable size and shape: The size and shape of the crayons should allow them to be easily moved by little hands. 
  • Vibrant colors: We want the crayons to have bold colors so that they are exciting to use. 
  • Smooth application: The crayons must also color with relative ease to avoid having to push down very hard to make an effect. 

Making Our Own 

With all this in mind, (and realizing that we weren’t coming close to finding a toddler crayon that fit all the criteria) I decided to try and make our own crayons from scratch. I found a video recipe online for taste-safe crayons. We liked that it used non-toxic ingredients and seemed to have a smooth application. But we were worried that the spices inside the crayons would encourage eating. So, I looked for a food colorant that could work instead.  

Ingredients to make crayons including a silver pot, wooden spoon, food coloring bottles, and packages of beeswax, carnauba wax, and cocoa butter.

Assembling the Materials 

Colour Mill came up in my search as a food-safe dye that seemed to work well and evenly disperse within oily substances. For the waxy materials, I purchased in bulk organic beeswax, carnauba wax, and deodorized cocoa butter. I chose ones that were in flake, pellet, or coin form to help melt faster. Knowing that I should dedicate a pot and spoon to exclusively make the crayons to avoid contaminants, I picked up a pot with a spout and wooden spoon at a local reuse center.  

Two red silicone molds used for baking canelé pastries and madeleine cookies.

I also purchased two silicone molds (canelé and madeleine) for the crayons at a local baking shop that I thought would be great shapes for grasping. 

Melting the Ingredients 

Wax pellets and cocoa butter coins sitting in a silver pot on a scale.
I began by weighing out the waxes and cocoa butter, and heating it on the stove at a medium heat. In the future, I would start on a low heat as the ingredients quickly melted and became very hot within 5 minutes.
I stirred occasionally to break up large clumps, but it quickly became a transparent wax mixture with a slight yellow tint.  

Pouring and Coloring the Crayons 

I decided to try the madeleine mold and began to pour into the molds. I then returned the pot to the stove on low heat to keep the rest of the wax in a liquid form. (I would advise wiping down the edge of your pot before returning it to the stove to prevent the oil from dripping onto the heating element.) 

I decided before starting to individually dye each crayon in the mold, so that my pot and spoon wouldn’t have to be cleaned between each color. I put in several drops of blue colorant and swirled with a toothpick to distribute the color.  
Six colorful crayons cooling in a red mold next to the food colorant bottles, a notebook, and toothpicks used for stirring.

I then repeated this process to  create six crayons. I tried mixing  colors to make a purple, orange, and green crayon in addition to red, yellow, and blue. I found that it was helpful to wipe the toothpick on scrap paper to get an idea of the crayon’s color.. Testing the color helped me adjust the ratios, especially when mixing the tertiary colors. 

I waited until they cooled down completely. I considered putting them in the fridge but was concerned that it would make certain parts cool faster than others, so I left it on the counter. 

Problem Solving 

After they dried, I lifted them out of the mold, and realized there are a few things I would do differently next time. 

A blue crayon being lifted out of the mold to reveal a sticky pool of colorant on top of the crayon and in the mold.
I definitely used too much colorant as I noticed the color on some of the crayons dropped straight to the bottom creating a pool of sticky color once they dried. I ended up rinsing off the crayons and rubbing the top part off onto a piece of paper until the color no longer colored my hands as I drew. In the future, I will use less colorant and wait a bit longer before mixing it in so that the color doesn’t settle as much. 
A green crayon lifted out of the mold to reveal yellow swirls on the top of the crayon.

I also noticed that on the crayons where I used two colors, the colors sometimes stayed unmixed at the bottom. I think next time I will mix the colors in a small cup separately, then mix it into the wax. That way, there are fewer streaks of other colors like the yellow swirl on the green crayon above. 

I might also adjust the ratios of wax to include more carnauba wax. In testing the crayons, we discovered that the colors glide a bit too well, so maybe by adding some of the harder wax, it won’t be used up as quickly.  

Final Reflections 

A row of homemade crayons with marks above and below them made by the crayon.
Overall, I would say that the final results were positive! The colors were vibrant, the wax has a smooth application, the ingredients are non-toxic, the size is non-choking hazard, and the shape is graspable. We have had them in the studio for a week now and they haven’t broken, and folks have been using them alongside the rock crayons. We will continue to watch their use in the studio to see how guests like them, and I’ll work on making those adjustments to the amount of color and carnauba wax. 


Sara smiling in front of Art Studio display.

Sara Ottomano

Art Educator from 2016-2023 at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Sara (she/her) is enthusiastic about helping others approach art through exploration and experimentation.

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