Air Dry Clay vs Polymer Clay: Which is Better for Clay Art?
Air Dry Clay vs Polymer Clay: Which is Better for Clay Art? 2

In recent years, clay art has become more and more popular in the creation of crafts; its popularity stems from its creative freedom, wide range of applications, and ease of use; you can use clay to create a lot of exciting works if you are relatively new to clay art, then you must want to know what are the commonly used types of clay in clay art.

Generally, two types of clay are more popular in clay art: air dry clay and polymer clay, both of which have unique strengths and characteristics and vary in composition and how they are used.

Read on to learn more about air dry clay vs polymer clay and the benefits of each. 

What is Air Dry Clay?

First, let's understand what air dry clay is. As the name suggests, is a type of clay thatis cured and molded by air drying. It is a water-based clay, often soft, moldable, and lightweight, and is sought after by most craft artists for its no-bake characteristics.

Air dry clay can be used for various craft projects and is the most common type of clay used in our studio.

In most cases, it takes about 1-2 days for air dry clay to fully dry and cure; you can use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process; different brands of air dry clay will expand or contract to vary degrees after fully drying, and poor quality air dry clay may even crack.We recommend using XGB clay from our online store, which is the primary clay we use for clay figures and is very suitable for crafts.

For storage, we usually seal unused air dry clay in a ziplock bag due to the drying and curing that occurs when exposed to air.

Air dry clay comes in various vibrant colors, and new colors can be created by mixing the different colors; you can also use acrylic paints for coloring.

Additionally, air dry clay is not water resistant after air drying and molding, so you can apply a sealer to the exterior to make it more water resistant, and air dry clay is also more suitable for children ages three and up because of the eco-friendly and safe nature of its materials.

What is Polymer Clay?

Polymer clay is also popular for crafting due to its comprehensive and versatile nature. It is a hardenable modeling clay based on the polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which, unlike air dry clay, remains soft and malleable for long periods at room temperature.

Once a craft made of polymer clay is finished, it must be baked to cure and take shape. You can use a home oven for baking without needing other specialized personnel and equipment.

Like air dry clay, polymer clay can make almost any item, such as figures, beads, jewelry, sculptures, ornaments, and more. It is no exaggeration to say that you can use it to make any item you can imagine.

Air Dry Clay vs Polymer Clay

So, what are the main differences between air dry clay and polymer clay? I will explain them to you in terms of curing method, coloring method, cost, density, health and safety, durability, and more.

Curing Method: Air dry clay solidifies with air, while polymer clay solidifies with heat. You can expose polymer clay to air for a long time without it curing. Unlike most air dry clays, polymer clays usually do not expand and contract after curing.

Coloring: Air dry clay is a water-based clay primarily colored with acrylics or watercolors after air drying. Polymer clay is an oil-based clay that can be colored with oil paints, chalk, crayons, acrylics, and watercolors.

Cost: Polymer clay tends to be more expensive than air dry clay.

Density: Polymer clays are denser than air dry clays, making them heavier and harder for the same volume.

Health and safety: Air dry clay is composed primarily of clay minerals, fine sand, and natural fibers, which are safe, non-toxic, environmentally and child-friendly. Polymer clay contains small amounts of plasticizers, which can release hydrogen chloride gas and cause health problems when improperly baked.

Durability: Due to its properties, polymer clay is hard when cured and is water and sun resistant. In contrast, air dry clay is fragile and not waterproof, but you can apply a sealer to air dry clay to increase its water resistance.


Can polymer clay be mixed with air dry clay?

Since Polymer Clay and Air Dry Clay have completely different curing methods and material properties, it is not recommended to mix them.

Do I need a special oven to cure polymer clay?

No, you can bake them in your home or toaster oven.

What type of clay is better for beginners?

For beginners, I recommend air dry clay. Not only is it more affordable, but because it doesn't need to be baked, it's easier to work with, and you can tweak it and practice while it's still air-drying, so you can take your arts and crafts skills to the next level more quickly!

Which type of clay is more suitable for children?

For children, I 100% recommend air dry clay because it is completely safe and non-toxic, easy to work with, has no baking, and allows children to let their imagination and creativity run wild.


As we can learn from the above, each type of clay has unique advantages and characteristics. Overall, if you are concerned about safety and cost, air dry clay is the best choice, but if you are more concerned about durability, polymer clay will not disappoint you! Both types of clay can be used to create almost anything you can imagine, which is why both types of clay are very widely used in clay art!

You can learn more about air dry clay , clay tools, kits, accessories, decorations, and other crafts specialized in arts and crafts at our online store.


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