Clay Recipe Selection Tips

Is There a Clay Recipe Suitable for an Essential Oil Diffuser Pendant?

Just a quick question … when using a homemade clay recipe, which of your recipes are less likely to break if dropped? I am looking into making an essential oil diffuser to wear around the neck.

Clay Recipe for Pendant

Clay Recipe Properties

Yours may be a quick question, but the answer isn’t.

Any clay may break when dropped.

However if you’re talking about pendant-style terra cotta diffusers, think about how often you’re likely to drop such a lightweight necklace. For the pendant to absorb a drop or two of essential oil, the clay needs to be porous like terra cotta clay, which is kiln-fired at 900 to 1100 F.

I don’t think any of the clay recipes on our Cornstarch-Based Clay page or our Bread-Based Clay recipe page would work for the following reasons.

  1. None of the polymer clay recipes would serve because they are not porous enough after curing. That leaves bread or starch-based clay recipes.
  2. Bread or starch-based clays are typically sealed against moisture. Your pendant could not be sealed in order for it to remain porous enough to absorb and diffuse the essential oils.
  3. All the bread and starch-based clay recipes I’ve come across (including the ones on our site) have some very hydrophilic ingredients like wheat flour, salt, cornstarch and sugar. Hydrophilic ingredients attract moisture. See next section for details.

My concern is that ambient or spilled moisture may be drawn into the unsealed pendant and cause mold to grow. Flour in the clay recipe mix could also attract insects. You might open your jewelry box one morning and find it filled with cereal beetles or moths.

Using essential oils with anti-fungal properties might be enough to prevent mold. Anti-fungal essential oils are tea tree and eucalyptus, especially lemon eucalyptus. Lavender, myrrh, and geranium are close seconds.

More About Hydophilic Clay Recipe Ingredients

To answer your question about which clay recipe to use for a clay pendant, I consulted Class o Foods.

Salt is extremely hydrophilic. That is, it attracts moisture to a great degree.

All starches are hydrophilic, including cornstrach and flour. Wheat flour, which is the most commonly found flour in clay recipes, is the most hydrophilic becasue it also contains “water soluble pentosans, polymers of five carbon sugars which can bind water in a multiple of their own weight.”

Crayola Air Dry Clay

A Clay Which Might Serve

Crayola makes a Terra Cotta (colored) Air Dry Clay. This clay contains no foodstuffs and will not attract mold or insects.

It works best for small items like you have in mind. The wet clay stains but the color easily washes off skin. Wear grungy clothes and work on a protected surface.

Crayola says this clay is “smoother, finer, and less sticky than traditional clay. Air-Dry Clay softens easily with water and quickly cleans from hands and surfaces. It’s ideal for traditional techniques such as pinch, coil, slab, and score-and-weld, and for making stamped impressions, beads, and embedding found objects. When dry, pieces can be decorated with markers, acrylic paints, tempera, or watercolors.”

Readers have told me they make diffusor pendants with Crayola Air Dry Terra Cotta Clay. I haven’t tried it myself yet.

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