How to Make Colored Rice – Alcohol or Vinegar

We’ve had a long long winter this year so what can you do with your children indoors? We made colored rice for sensory play for my toddler. My older two boys saw how much fun the baby was having so they joined in as well, so it’s been a popular activity.

I saw some other posts on Pinterest that use either rubbing alcohol or vinegar so I figured I would give it a try. I’m so happy that I did!

Learning how to make colored rice was a fun experience that I learned a lot from and it gave the kids something really cool to play with as well. Plus, it was such a simple process that I now know how I can easily do it again next time, too.

If you’re looking for a fun way to have the kids using their fine motor skills and having sensory play, dying rice is a simple way to make it happen.

Rice sensory bin

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How to Make Colored Rice – Alcohol or Vinegar

I like the idea of using alcohol so it sanitizes the rice and hopefully makes it last longer. I also like the idea of using vinegar but it’s something I always have on hand and it’s super cheap. I also like that it’s not a chemical. I was also worried about the smell that either of them would leave with the rice so I decided to use both.

I don’t really know if they preferred one over the other but I do know that they played with it all without any type of issues! I would say that this activity was a huge hit in our house.

colored rice

Rice Coloring Supples

To make your colored rice, you just need a few of the supplies below.

  • 1 cup of rice
  • food coloring
  • 1 tablespoon of either vinegar or rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer
  • Ziploc bags
  • tray for drying

How to dye rice with rubbing alcohol

Dying rice with rubbing alcohol isn’t hard and here is how I did it.

I added one tablespoon of either vinegar, alcohol and I also tried hand sanitizer since it contains alcohol as well to the Ziploc bag and several drops of my food coloring and mixed it up.

Add one cup of rice to each bag, I made 4 different colors and used 4 bags. Once you add the rice, close up the bag and mix it all up, moving and squeezing the rice. Once the color was mixed in thoroughly, I lined my baking sheet with aluminum foil and set it out on the counter to dry. It took over an hour to dry.

The vinegar and rubbing alcohol dried the quickest while the hand sanitizer rice took the longest to dry. After the rice dried, the alcohol smell was still strong and more prevalent than the vinegar. 

How to color rice

If I want to make more, I’d prefer to use the vinegar, it’s cheap and I always have it on hand. My rice doesn’t smell like alcohol nor does it smell like vinegar. I love how easy it was to make and my little one is having so much fun with it.

The kids literally had so much fun playing with this colored rice that it was all that they talked about doing over and over again. And I loved it because it kept them creative and active and using their hands and imagination.

This is one simple activity that I would definitely do again with the kids since it was such a huge hit the first time.

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You can also check out what other things we do for toddler activities and straws.

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Do you want to try some colorful STEM activities? You need to try everything in this list of rainbow STEM activities! They’re so cool!

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  1. You can also use witch hazel. I didn’t have alcohol on hand, so I tried witch hazel, and it worked great. You can even add a drop of essential oil to scent your colored rice. 🙂

    1. Yes, I haven’t tried any of the essential oils, but I’m sure it would be amazing.

  2. Did one color the rice better or were they equally saturated?

    1. They were equally saturated I found, easy peasy either method.

  3. This looks really neat – pinning for future use.

  4. Oh – that’s terrific. I remember making coloured rice for something before. I wonder what I used LOL.

    Thanks for sharing – what a neat experiment. I bet this is fantastic for a sensory bin!

    1. My little one loves sensory bins.

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