Homemade scented baking soda ornaments

If you’re looking for affordable and cute winter decorations, you can’t go wrong with these homemade scented baking soda ornaments. Snow-white and shaped any way you like, they will cozy up any part of your home. Especially your tree! This is also a fun craft to do with your kids. Dried ornaments can be painted any color or drawn on with pretty markers. 

Homemade scented baking soda ornaments

Decorating the tree for the holidays has always been one of my favorite things to do. I don’t particularly enjoy flocking it and a natural one isn’t an option because I don’t trust the cats. But that last part, putting on the decorations, that’s the best part. 

I still have a small box of 90s ornaments stashed somewhere in the basement, a collection of mostly plastic and vibrant bubbles. Magenta, deep green, blue, … and more oddities I have fond memories of. 

Homemade scented baking soda ornaments

But over the years I’ve been leaning more towards calmer colors for my tree. Mainly white since it reminds me of snow. Unfortunately snowy winters have become a thing of the past, or so it seems. 

I think this is why I love these homemade scented baking soda ornaments so much. They’re snow-white, just perfectly crisp, and they look so pretty together with lights and the green of the tree. 

Homemade scented baking soda ornaments

What makes baking soda ornaments so great? 

  • They are affordable.
  • Simple to make.
  • Can be shaped any way you like.
  • Carefree activity to do, by yourself or with kids.
  • They’re pretty! 
  • Last for years. 

Buying ornaments and various decorations can quickly add up. Isn’t it crazy how a cute thing here and there can suddenly amount to a whole lot that be pretty expensive? But a pack of baking soda and cornstarch will hardly make a dent in your bank account while giving you a good amount of ornaments. I just love that! 

baking soda and cornstarch in a shallow bowl
mixture of baking soda, cornstarch and water in a pot
dough made of cornstarch and baking soda in a shallow bowl

How to make baking soda ornaments? 

They are so simple to make it’s crazy. 

  1. Combine baking soda, cornstarch and water in a saucepan. Whisk until completely combined and your mixture looks like velvety milk. 
  2. Cornstarch is a bit tricky to mix-in. I find that it just sticks to the sides of the pot like glue. So make sure you’re hitting all the sides of the pot with your whisk or use a spatula to double check you’ve scrapped off all the starch. 
  3. Then add your scents. I like to use either essential oils or food-grade oils that you can otherwise use for baking. Add a few drops. Even if the smell is overpowering, know that the final dried ornaments won’t be that fragrant. So it’s better to add too much than too little. 
  4. Cook this mixture over medium heat for a few minutes, whisking constantly, until it thickens into a paste. Remove from heat, give it another good whisk and transfer to a plate to cool to room temperature. 
  5. And then it’s kneading time! Knead this lump of dough on a work surface, with a bowl of cornstarch on the side. You’ll most likely have to add a few tablespoons of cornstarch to the dough. Just enough that the dough isn’t sticky anymore. But it still has to be pliable. If it’s too dry it’ll crumble and crack and you don’t want that. 
  6. Roll out the dough. At most 1/4 inch thin. Thicker is better than too thin, just because really thin ornaments can break more easily. But 1/4 inch as about ideal. 
  7. Cut out your shapes, lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment and allow to dry completely. 
cutting shapes with cookie cutter
baking soda dough rolled out
cut out dough shapes
baking soda dough rolled out

Can I make ornaments with expired baking soda and cornstarch? 

YES! Of course only if the ingredients look and smell okay and aren’t moldy, you can use them no matter what the expiration date says. 

The reason for this is very simple: you’re making ornaments, they’re not edible. 

Cornstarch is pretty indestructible anyway, as long as you keep it dry. 

Baking soda might lose some of its strength with age, but you don’t actually need it to do anything in this recipe. So if you wouldn’t make cookies with expired baking soda because you’re doubting its leavening strength, you can definitely make ornaments. 

How to dry baking soda ornaments?

AIR DRY!

Okay, there are two methods for drying ornaments. One is air drying, the other is oven drying. Personally I prefer air drying.

The best way to dry ornaments and prevent cracking is by drying them on a baking sheet overnight out in the open (like on your kitchen counter or a partially opened oven). The next day you can check on them. If they still seem damp in the center, gently flip each one so they can dry in the other side as well. 

I’ve never had an ornament crack by doing this. I like to make my ornaments in advance and give them full 2 days to dry before writing on them, adding ribbon or anything else. 

Homemade scented baking soda ornaments hung on a branch

Drying ornaments in the oven:

The key is really low temperature. Set your oven to 175°F (80°C) and place baking sheet with your ornaments in the center of the oven. Check on your ornaments every so often, making sure they’re not cracking, browning or similar. 

Carefully flip the ornaments to the other side after about 40 minutes. And when another 30-40 minutes pass, you can flip them again and let them dry further.  

How much time you need will depend on the size of each ornament, so just keep an eye on them (thicker or larger ornaments need more time than small ones). In the end, you can also turn off your oven and slightly open it and allow ornaments to dry like that. 

Homemade scented baking soda ornaments

How to store ornaments

I like to store mine in an airtight container, layered between sheets of paper towels. They stay perfect like that and last for a few years at least. How rough you are with them plays a factor as they aren’t indestructible, but even with that, I think having them for years is a pretty good deal. 

Can you paint baking soda ornaments? 

Yes! First it’s important that your ornaments are completely dry.  Then as you paint them, be conservative with how much you add to them and once you are done, allow the ornaments to dry completely once again. 

Personally I prefer markers over watercolors, just because they’re drier. So I’d say try drawing on them before painting, but you can do both. 

Another great thing you can do is write messages on the ornaments. Simply brush each ornament with a soft clean brush first, to remove any specks of cornstarch still lurking around. Then write… or doodle!

round white ornament with word joy on it

What to do with all the ornaments? 

Put them on a tree! Use ribbons that fit into your color theme and hang them up. Just keep in mind that these ornaments can have some weight on them, depending on their size and thickness. If you have a natural tree, pick the thicker branches.

Make a garland! 

Put them on a wreath. 

Turn them into gift tags! Like mentioned before, you can very easily write on these once they are completely dry. 

Homemade scented baking soda ornaments on a tree wood board with lights

Making homemade scented baking soda ornaments is a staple winter activity for me. It’s such a fun and calming thing to do. You can do it either by yourself or in company (of kids, adults or even pets, yes). There’s no pressure to make perfect ornaments, no worries of them having to taste good (haha). It’s just you, a blob of dough and an hour or two of carefree creativity. 

Homemade scented baking soda ornaments placed on tree wood board
Print

Homemade scented baking soda ornaments

Homemade scented baking soda ornaments

A carefree activity for adults and kids. Easy to make and affordable! 

 

  • Author: Alice
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 5 min
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 20 ornaments 1x
  • Category: DIY
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (270g) baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (70g) cornstarch, more for kneading
  • 3/4 cups (180ml) water
  • lemon, orange or cinnamon essential oils (see notes)

Instructions

  1. Mix baking soda and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Add water and whisk until soda and starch are dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Add 5-10 drops of each oil. (The scent will be strong, but it all works out in the end.)
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 3-5 minutes or until thickened. As you stir, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. The mixture will first get bubbly before it gets thicker and you need to scrape the pot to get all of that combined.
  3. Once the mixture is thick like toothpaste,  remove it from the stove. Transfer dough to a cool plate and allow it to cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes).
  4. Place dough on your work surface. Dust with cornstarch and knead the dough into a smooth ball. If it’s sticky or too wet add cornstarch, tablespoon by tablespoon and keep kneading until it’s less sticky.  It should be pliable, but not sticky wet nor dry and crumbly. 
  5. Add more cornstarch to your work surface and roll out the dough to no less than 1/4 inch (6mm) thin. Use a normal rolling pin for rolling. Only use an engraved rolling pin for a final decorative roll-out. 
  6. Cut out desired shapes and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut out holes (for hanging the ornaments) with a straw. Let ornaments air-dry overnight. Flip them over the next day and let them dry until they’re completely set, ideally another day. The longer you wait the better.

Notes

I like to use essential oils or food-grade oils that you would normally use in baking. 

When rolling out your dough, roll it with a classic smooth rolling pin until you get it to the proper thickness. Then roll it just once with a decorative engraved rolling pin. 

To avoid any possible cracking, I like to air dry my ornaments over a period of two days. I always get pretty ornaments this way.

To dry ornaments in the oven, set your oven to 175°F (80°C) and place ornaments on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Dry your ornaments like this for 40 minutes, then flip them on the other side and dry for another 30-40 minutes. Check on your ornaments every so often, making sure they’re not cracking, browning or similar. 

Keywords: holiday ornaments

Recipe first published in November 2016, revised and updated in November 2020.


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29 Comments

  1. Libby wrote:

    Alice these are gorgeous!! <3 I've been looking for plain white, pretty decorations for our tree and these are perfect. I definitely have to give them a go!

    Posted 11.26.16 Reply
    • Alice wrote:

      Thank you, Libby! 🙂

      Posted 11.28.16 Reply
  2. Joan wrote:

    Does the corn starch need to be “fresh”?

    Posted 11.7.17 Reply
    • Alice wrote:

      Hi Joan, I’m assuming you mean fresh in terms of its “best before” date? In that case you can use expired cornstarch, if it otherwise looks fine, as you won’t be eating it anyway.

      Hope this answers your question!
      If not, do let me know. 🙂

      Posted 11.7.17 Reply
  3. Hannah wrote:

    Hi, I really like the idea and looks of your ornaments! How many can you get from one batch of dough?

    Posted 11.27.18 Reply
    • Alice wrote:

      Hi Hannah, thank you!
      I’d say you get about 15 ornaments, depends on the size of cut outs.

      Posted 11.27.18 Reply
      • ? wrote:

        Hi Alice,
        I want to make them for others. My question is that does it last forever? With time will it crumble?
        Also does it break easily?
        I want to use this instead of air dry clay from the art shop.
        Thank you in advance! ?

        Posted 11.12.19
  4. Naomi Melendez wrote:

    These are beautiful. I want to try them for my class. Have you ever painted them and if so what kind of paint would you recommend for first graders. Happy holidays

    Posted 12.8.18 Reply
    • Alice wrote:

      Hi Naomi, thank you! I actually haven’t, but if I would I’d probably try acrylic paints, because they’re a bit thicker and normally really pigmented. Just make sure the ornaments are dry before you paint them.

      Happy holidays to you and your students! 🙂

      Posted 12.8.18 Reply
  5. Naomi Melendez wrote:

    Thank you so much 🙂 I am making the white ones for my home and so far they smell amazing. My class will paint the ones they take home.

    Posted 12.8.18 Reply
    • Alice wrote:

      So happy you’re liking these!
      And I hope your kids have a lot of fun painting them, such a thoughtful activity + gift for them 🙂

      Posted 12.8.18 Reply
  6. Christi wrote:

    Can left over dough be stored?

    Posted 4.17.19 Reply
    • Alice wrote:

      Hi Christi,
      do you mean overnight or for a longer period?

      I think it would hold up overnight if wrapped well, but I’m not sure about longer storage.

      Posted 4.18.19 Reply
      • Star wrote:

        Hello! Thank you for a wonderful activity! I am SO thankful you have the option right on the ingredients list to 2x/3x !! Thank you, thank you!!

        Posted 9.26.19
      • Alice wrote:

        Hi Star, so happy you find that helpful! I think it’s a wonderful feature too 🙂

        Posted 9.26.19
      • Tara Ledford wrote:

        Do you know if you use the essential oils and paint the ornaments does the paint affect the smell?

        Posted 10.3.19
      • Alice wrote:

        Hi Tara, while I haven’t tried this myself, I do think the paint might cover up some, if not all of the fragrance? I guess it depends on the paint? I’d definitely use more essential oil, if you plan on painting the ornaments, just to try and keep some of the scent. You can also try making a small trial batch to test out if adding more oil helps. I’d also use water based paints, they’re generally less smelly.

        Hope this helps in any way,
        I’m sorry I can’t think of anything else!

        Posted 10.3.19
  7. Diána wrote:

    Hi Alice,

    Sorry, my phone was acting up…I accidentally posted this as a reply to another comment and my name became a smiley ??
    I want to make them for others. My question is that does it last forever? With time will it crumble?
    Also does it break easily?
    I want to use this instead of air dry clay from the art shop.
    Thank you in advance! ?

    Posted 11.12.19 Reply
    • Alice wrote:

      Hi Diana,
      no worries 🙂

      I’ve had mine for a few years now, saved in an airtight container and they’ve held up well. I wouldn’t say they can last forever. They are sturdy and won’t crumble (unless you drop an ornament on the floor, then it can break), but I think clay is more long lasting. You can seal the clay, give it a nice glossy finish and it’ll keep for way longer I think.

      So I guess you can make these for gifts and with some proper care they can last for years, but there’s no guarantee they’ll last forever.

      Hope this helps 🙂

      Posted 11.12.19 Reply
      • Tonya K Troup wrote:

        Can I bake these on low heat to speed up drying time?

        Posted 4.10.20
      • Alice wrote:

        Hi Tonya, yes you can!
        Just set your oven really low, about 175F (80C) and periodically check on the ornaments. Also don’t forget to turn them after about 40 minutes. And when another 30-40 minutes pass, you can flip them again and let them bake some more. How much time you need will depend on the size of each ornament, so just keep an eye on them (thicker larger need more time than small ones). In the end, you can also just let them dry in a turned off oven.

        Hope this helps 🙂

        Posted 4.10.20
  8. Paulette wrote:

    Hi thankyou for the video it is very nicely done. I am using my patterned rolling pin for the first time. So all round a new experience. Thank you.

    Posted 12.9.19 Reply
    • Alice wrote:

      That’s so great Paulette, happy to see you enjoy the tutorial. Thank you for sharing!

      Posted 12.9.19 Reply
  9. Hiba wrote:

    Hi, if we don’t have essential oils, will it affect the dough in any way? (other than the absent scent of course! :D) Like I mean would I need to add some other oil as replacement or something? Thank you!

    Posted 8.25.20 Reply
    • Alice wrote:

      Hi Hiba,
      no, not at all. You don’t have to add anything, just leave the oils out and that’s that. 🙂

      Posted 8.25.20 Reply
  10. Patty wrote:

    I have made this craft, and added chopped rose petals and rose fragrance oil in the kneading process. Then I pushed the wet scented dough (heart cutouts) into the front of a medium sized wicker basket. After 10 years, they are still there. I did not use any Modge Podge to seal them.

    I have also added powdered cinnamon (a small amount) to the 1st stage of this clay, then added a tiny amount of cinnamon oil at the kneading stage. I cut them out in Christmas ornaments, and after they dried, I strung them, alternating 3 sticks of cinnamon tied with twine and a small flower glued in the middle, then an ornament, etc. One could alternate dried orange slices and cinnamon, or apple slices and cinnamon. They are perfectly lovely, hung in the windows, with a small set of white blinky lights. And, the room they are hung in smells divine, too.

    Posted 9.28.20 Reply
    • Alice wrote:

      Such incredible ideas, Patty, thank you for sharing! 🙂

      Posted 9.29.20 Reply
  11. Tracy wrote:

    Where did you get that rolling pin? I love that pattern!

    And what a great project!

    Posted 11.25.20 Reply
    • Alice wrote:

      Thank you Tracy!
      I got it at a local store years ago. 🙂

      Posted 11.25.20 Reply