Air dry clay is cheaper than other clay options. It is the most commonly used clay and it is very popular with Families and Kids. But Kids can be impatient. So how can you dry air dry clay faster?
The best way to dry air dry clay faster is by using an oven. Place the air dry clay on a baking sheet, put the clay in the oven, and then heat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the oven off after about 20 minutes and leave the clay in the oven for another 20 minutes.
Before I get into how to dry air dry clay faster I should warn you that all of these methods can easily cause the clay to crack. The safest way to dry air dry clay is by leaving it to dry at its own pace without artificially speeding things up.
1. Use an Oven to Dry the Clay
Before we get started with how to bake air dry clay we should answer one important question first: Can you bake air dry clay in an oven?
Air dry clay can be baked in an oven at very low temperatures (~200°F) to accelerate the drying time of the clay. Air dry clay doesn´t have to be baked to dry but it can be baked to make it dry faster. It should never be fired in a kiln or it will simply melt.
From all of the methods in this list using an oven to dry air dry clay is by far the easiest and safest way to quickly dry it. So, how do you dry air dry clay in an oven?
To dry air dry clay in an oven place the finished clay on a baking tray that is covered with parchment paper and put it in the oven. Then heat the oven to 200°F and leave the clay in there for 15 to 20 minutes. Then turn off the oven and take the clay out once everything has cooled down.
You have to put the clay in the oven before turning the oven on. If you don´t do that, then you will find that it cracks very quickly.
Air dry clay tends to crack very quickly if the water content inside the clay is evaporating too quickly.
If you want to know more about why air dry clay cracks and how to avoid it then consider reading my article on properly drying air-dry clay.
Going from cold and wet into a shockingly warm oven will cause all kinds of issues.
The 5 steps to dry air dry clay in an oven:
- So start by placing your sculpture on a baking tray, that is covered with parchment paper.
- Place the baking tray into the cold oven.
- Turn on the oven to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a very low temperature, that will create a warm airflow around the Sculpture baking the water out of the clay.
- Let the Sculpture bake for about 20 minutes.
- Then turn off the oven and let the clay cool down inside the oven.
If you take the clay out while it is still hot the sudden cool air from outside the oven can damage the sculpture because the sudden difference in temperature may result in cracks.
Once the clay is cooled down, however, you can simply take it out of the oven and it should be perfectly dry without any cracks.
2. Use a Dehydrator
A dehydrator is usually used for drying fruit or even meat but it can also be used to speed up the drying time of air dry clay.
A dehydrator can be used to dry air dry clay but the machine has to be set to a very low setting to ensure that the clay does not crack while it dries. The faster air dry clay dries the more likely it is that the clay cracks. A dehydrator can fully dry air dry clay on low settings in about an hour.
If you already have a dehydrator then using one to dry air dry clay is absolutely possible but I would not recommend buying a dehydrator just for drying air dry clay.
A lot of modern ovens have a drying setting for drying fruit that is almost as good as a dehydrator and even if your oven does not have that setting you can still use your kitchen oven for drying air dry clay faster.
So using a dehydrator for drying air dry clay is only an option if you already have one lying around.
3. Use a Hairdryer
Using a hairdryer to dry air dry clay is somewhat tedious and it tends to be less reliable than using an oven to dry clay but it is still possible.
Using a hairdryer to dry air dry clay is possible but it requires a lot of patience and endurance. Set the hairdryer to hot and turn the fan power down to one. Then constantly move the hairdryer back and forth. Keep a minimum distance of about 3 inches at all times. The clay will be dry after about 20 minutes.
The problem with drying air-dry clay with a hairdryer is, that you might accidentally only heat one area of your sculpture.
This will lead to stress within the clay because water will evaporate unevenly and a lot of cracks will form on the surface and inside the clay structure.
So if you want to speed up the drying of your air dry clay then you have to apply heat very as evenly as possible.
A grill tray can help with that.
The 6 steps to dry air dry clay with a hairdryer:
- Place the clay on a table so that you can reach all sites with the hairdryer.
- Set the hairdryer to as hot as it would go and set the power to as low as possible.
- Constantly move the hair dryer all over the clay so that you heat the sculpture up as evenly as possible.
- Keep at a distance of at least 3 inches to avoid heating up one area of the clay too much and too fast.
- The clay should be mostly dry after about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Leave the clay to cool down for another 20 minutes before moving it.
And this is the final result. You can see some minor cracks, but nothing that can´t easily be fixed.
4. Let the Air Dry Clay Dry in the Sun
One final option to dry air dry clay faster is simply using the sun. So, does air dry clay dry faster in the sun?
Air dry clay will dry much faster when it is exposed to direct sunlight. Leaving air dry clay in the sun will make the clay dry faster but it can also dry the clay unevenly which can cause cracking.
But is using the sun to dry air dry clay really a good option?
As a whole, air dry clay can be dried faster by placing it in the sun. Simply protect the clay from direct sun by placing a protective sheet of parchment paper above it and don´t place the clay on a metal surface. Turn the clay every 10 minutes to ensure that it dries evenly.
I personally don´t recommend drying your air dry clay in the sun but it is absolutely possible to do so if you want to speed up the whole drying process and you don´t have an oven, a hairdryer, or a dehydrator at hand.
Follow these 4 steps to dry air dry clay in the sun:
- Place the finished clay sculpture on a nonmetal surface outside in the sun.
- Carefully put one sheet of parchment paper under the sculpture and then cover the sculpture with a second sheet of parchment paper. This is done to protect the clay from the UV rays of the sun.
- Turn the clay every 5 minutes to ensure that the sculpture gets heated up as evenly as possible. Doing this will prevent the clay from easily cracking while it dries.
- The sculpture will be dry after about 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size of the sculpture.
Does Air Dry Clay Break Easily?
Air dry clay shrinks when it is drying and depending on the amount of water you mixed into the clay while you were molding it will shrink even more.
Air dry clay is quite durable even though it isn´t as durable as regular fired and glazed clay. You can find out more about how durable air-dry clay is by reading my in-depth article on the durability of air-dry clay if you want to.
Cracking is very common with this type of clay.
The cracks come from the loss of water from the clay when it is drying.
As the water evaporates from the clay, it can cause cracks in your piece.
But don´t worry, you can either fix the cracks after the clay has dried completely or you can avoid cracks by working with it correctly.
I wrote an article about avoiding cracks in clay and how to work with air-dry clay.
But basically, you can use a 1-to-1 mixture of water and clay to create something called slip. Slip can be applied directly to the cracks to fix them.
How Do You Fix Cracks in Air Dry Clay?
You can use slip to fix cracks in your Air dry clay. Slip can easily be made with clay and Water.
Slip is clay mixed with water. It has to have the consistency of pudding so that it is thick enough to adhere to the clay while also filling the crack completely.
It is important to remember that you can not store the slip. You can only store pure clay that has not been mixed with water yet.
If you do try to reuse the slip you will notice it doesn’t work and will only cause a huge mess.
Here are the steps to fixing cracks in your clay sculpture:
- Prepare the slip with clay and water to the right consistency and set it to the side for later.
- You will need to roughen up the area, where the slip is supposed to hold. So use some sanding paper to make the area a little rougher so that the slip can adhere to the surface.
- Make the area a little wet with water before adding the slip to the crack.
- Now add the slip to the part, that you want to fix. If you want to glue two pieces together, then you can use the slip as well. If you want to fix a very big crack then you should maybe use some clay to fill in the crack and then add the slip to the surface to make it look smooth.
If you want to have an in-depth, step-by-step guide on how to properly fix cracks in air-dry clay then consider reading my guide where I explain exactly that in great detail.
How Long Does it Take to Dry?
If you leave air dry clay out to dry without speeding the drying process up then it will take anywhere between 24 hours to 72 hours depending on the size of the clay sculpture, how thick it is, and how warm the location where you are drying it is.
You can read another article of mine where I explain exactly how to dry air dry clay without risking any cracking. I also explain how long it usually takes for air-dry clay to dry without using any tricks to exhilarate the drying time.
If you have any more questions, then feel free to ask me in the comment section down below and I will answer them as soon as I can.
Does Heat Reduce the Drying Time of Air Dry Clay?
Heat will make air dry clay dry much faster because heat will cause the water inside the clay to evaporate more quickly. While heat generally speeds up the drying process of air dry clay, it is also important to keep the temperature low or the clay might simply melt or crack.