The Best Air-Dry Clay Options That Make No Kiln, No Problem

best air dry clay formed as pastries

If you use the best air-dry clay for your crafts, you can eliminate the hassle of using a kiln. Air-hardening clay is great for adults and kids alike, and you can create almost anything with it.

However, the type of clay you use and how you use it can affect how well it works for you. The best product for you will be whichever one works best for your crafting style.

​Table of Comparison

​Types of Air-Dry Clay

best air dry clay formed as cupcakes

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​The different types of air-dry clay will work better for some projects than others. Some are great if you need it to dry quickly, and others are better if you need to focus on small details. These types of clay include paper, commercial, and cold porcelain clay.

Paper clay is affordable and consists of paper fibers and adhesive. It dries extremely fast, it’s lightweight, and it hardly shrinks when it dries. The downsides of this type are that it dries weak and crumbly and allows limited detail work.

Commercial air-dry clay is arguably the most popular and well-known of these kinds of clay. It’s soft and lightweight, and it sticks together well if you need to attach pieces together. However, some people don’t like how soft the clay is and how hard it is to fix mistakes after it dries.

Cold porcelain clay isn’t very common in the United States, and it’s more expensive than the other types if you don’t make your own. You have to knead it a bit before you start molding it, but it allows easy fixing and attention to detail. Though it dries hard, it loses a bit of color and shrinks as it dries.

​What to Look for in the Best Air-Dry Clay

best air dry clay in different colors

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​When searching for the best air-dry clay, there are a handful of aspects to look for. The clay should be within your price range, but it should also offer the durability and workability you need. With these needs met, you can create to your heart’s content.

Keep in mind that not everyone has the same needs. You should consider which aspects are most important to you and choose the one that offers the most benefits to you.


Another aspect to consider is the durability of the clay. It’s defeating to spend time on a project only for it to break or fall apart shortly after finishing. Most people enjoy having their crafts as keepsakes for that period of their lives.

If you find a clay that uses “natural” and “pottery” on the packages, be careful. These kinds of clay are great to work with and learn with, but they remain heavy after drying. Their extra weight makes it easier to drop the piece and break it.

However, even lightweight clay isn’t always durable. You can get a better idea of the durability of the clay by looking at customer reviews.


The best air-dry clay will also make it easy for you to mold it with your preferred methods. This is different for everyone, but there are several key points that demonstrate how moldable a clay is.

If you want a clay that holds detail easily, look for clay that’s soft. If you want to stick multiple pieces of clay together or onto other mixed media items, find one that has a level of stickiness to it. You should also look at how well the clay does with paint or other forms of decoration once it dries.

For many artists, it takes a series of trial and error to find which air-drying clay works best for them. However, you can take the advice of others to help you along the way.

​How We Reviewed

If you want high-quality advice on how to pick the best air-dry clay, you should go to the artists themselves. Many of them have years of experience working with this art medium, so they have tips and tricks to help you work efficiently and with precision.

To help you in your search, we’ve examined the information and recommendations that artists and crafters place on their websites. We’ve also scoured countless customer reviews and ratings to see the experiences others have had with different clays.

We’re here to help you find the best materials for your next craft project. You can trust that our information is free of bias and points out the advantages and disadvantages of each product.

​The Best Air-Dry Clay for Your Crafts

​Once you’ve decided what your next project is, it’s time to find the right clay for it. Be sure to examine each product and consider how its characteristics can help you reach your creative goals. Art is hard work, but it should also be an enjoyable experience.

Once you find the best air-dry clay, you’re ready to get your creative juices flowing.

​AMACO Air Dry Clay

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If you need a large amount of clay, consider Amaco’s 25-pound air-dry clay. This gray clay is good for hand modeling, sculpting, and using on a pottery wheel. Amaco suggests giving your finished piece plenty of time to dry on all sides before painting and sealing it with shellac.

Many customers love that this clay is affordable and a great value for how much you receive. It’ll take at least two days to dry, and it won’t crack if you keep it out of the sun. It’s fragile, so several customers suggest baking it for added durability.

​Crayola Air-Dry Clay

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You can also purchase Crayola Air-Dry Clay in a 25-pound package, though it comes at a higher price than Amaco. This natural white clay comes in resealable bags, so you don’t have to worry about it drying out before you use all of it. Crayola claims that their air-hardening clay is smoother and less sticky than the competition.

When it comes to customer reviews, they state that this clay is great for small projects and dries rock hard. However, it’ll crack if you stretch the clay too thin or use too much water.

​​​​​Polyform Model Air

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If 25 pounds of clay is too much, try individual 2.2-pound packages of Polyform Model air-dry clay. This white clay is lightweight and flexible, making it great for a variety of art projects. If you want to decorate it with paint after it dries, acrylic paints work best.

Many customers state that this Polyform clay is easy to use and lasts long after it dries. Only one customer review mentioned cracking, but they stated that it was because the clay had expired.

​​​Craft Smart Natural Clay

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Craft Smart offers its Natural Clay in a 10-pound block for use in hand modeling, sculpting, or using on a pottery wheel. This is non-toxic clay, so it’s safe for adults and kids to use for all their creative needs. Craft Smart states that the clay is fragile when it dries, so they recommend sealing each piece with shellac to waterproof it.

Customers like that this clay is soft and easy to work with. They also state that it dries faster than they thought it would. However, thin pieces are fragile and susceptible to breaking.

​PolyClay Air-Dry Polymer Clay

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The best air-dry clay for some people is clay that comes in a variety of colors, like PolyClay Air-Dry Polymer Clay. They offer a modeling clay kit that comes with 36 0.7-ounce colors and several accessories. It’s perfect for you to express yourself creatively.

Customers love that each color comes in a container that keeps the clay from drying out. They also state that it’s soft and doesn’t stain. The main downside of this product is that you don’t get as great of a value compared to other brands.

​​Jovi Air-Dry Clay

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Jovi Air-Dry Clay comes in a 1.1-pound package and features simple white clay. It’s easy to knead and shape, and it works well if you’re using an armature for your sculpture. Also, this clay is non-toxic and dries in 24 hours.

Customers like that Jovi clay isn’t sticky and is easy to clean up. It dries fast enough that even last-minute projects can thoroughly dry overnight. It comes at a great price, but some customers aren’t a fan of how soft and droopy this clay is.

​​Sago Brothers Magic Clay

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Sago Brothers Magic Clay is a kit that comes with 24 colors weighing 0.7 ounces each, as well as sculpting tools and a booklet. Marketed toward children, this non-toxic clay helps sensory development and play-based learning. It’ll even dry in 24 hours, so you can enjoy each creation shortly after you make it.

Customer reviews state that this product is great for those with a variety of allergies. It also dries down to a lightweight, foamy texture. Some found that the clay doesn’t stick to itself very well, so using an armature will hold it together better.

​​DAS Air-Hardening Modeling Clay

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DAS Air-Hardening Modeling Clay comes in a 2.2-pound block of white clay that dries in 24 hours. It comes at an affordable price and is great for all ages in a multitude of settings. It’s very pliable and can help build hand strength and fine motor skills.

According to many customer reviews, this clay dries without cracking and is easy to sand. It’s also quite durable and difficult to break once it dries. It seems that the worst aspect of this clay is that some don’t like the smell.

​​Holicolor Air-Dry Clay

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At an affordable price, Holicolor may offer the best air-dry clay for you. This kit comes with 12 different colors that each weigh 0.7 ounces, sculpting tools, and an instructions booklet. This non-toxic air-dry clay is easy to stretch and mix, but it isn’t sticky.

Customers find that this clay kit is great for kids and beginners because it’s easy to work with. They also like the price, but they state that it dries out fast. You can remedy this by adding a bit of water to it and letting it sit for a couple of days.

​​Activa Activ-Clay

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Activa Activ-Clay comes in a different color than all the other best air-dry clay brands: terra cotta. You get 3.3 pounds of clay with your purchase, and it’s perfect for a natural look. It has a fine grain that dries down hard and durable, and you can even carve and paint it after it dries.

Customers love that this Activa clay dries without shrinking or cracking and stays durable. It has a rich color that’s beautiful without additional paint or decorations. However, some customers found that it takes a long time to dry in humid climates.

​​Crafting with the Best Air-Dry Clay Is Easy

girl playing with the best air dry clay

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For many people, commercial clay is the best air-dry clay, but some prefer other types for their craft. Whatever type you choose, make sure it has the price, durability, and workability that you need. This will help you enjoy your art for many years.

You can find air-dry clay in natural colors like white, gray, and terra cotta, and you can also find it in all the vibrant colors of the rainbow. Some dry faster than others, and some need time before they harden completely. It’s up to you to decide which is best for your art projects.

What do you look for in the best air-dry clay? Let us know in the comments section.

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