Does polymer clay smell bad?

Polymer clay is a versatile and popular medium used by artists, crafters, and hobbyists to create a wide variety of projects, from intricate jewelry to detailed sculptures. While polymer clay offers many benefits, some individuals may notice an odor when working with it. In this article, we’ll explore the topic of polymer clay odor, its potential causes, and whether it’s a cause for concern.

Odor during Baking

One of the most common times people notice an odor associated with polymer clay is during the baking process. When polymer clay is baked in an oven to cure and harden, some brands of polymer clay may emit a noticeable odor. This odor is typically described as a plastic-like or chemical smell. The intensity of the odor can vary depending on factors such as the brand of polymer clay, the baking temperature, and the ventilation of the baking area.

Possible Causes of Odor

The odor emitted during the baking of polymer clay is generally considered to be a result of the volatile compounds released as the clay cures. These compounds are typically not harmful and are a natural byproduct of the chemical processes occurring within the clay as it hardens.

In some cases, the odor may also be influenced by additives, colorants, or plasticizers present in the polymer clay formulation. Different brands of polymer clay may have slightly different chemical compositions, which can contribute to variations in odor.

Minimizing Odor

If you find the odor of polymer clay to be bothersome, there are several steps you can take to minimize it:

  • Proper Ventilation: Ensure that the area where you are baking polymer clay is well-ventilated. Opening windows or using an exhaust fan can help dissipate any odors.
  • Temperature Control: Baking at the recommended temperature for the specific brand of polymer clay can help reduce the intensity of the odor.
  • Choosing Brands: Experimenting with different brands of polymer clay may help you find one that emits less noticeable odors during baking.


In conclusion, the odor associated with polymer clay, particularly during the baking process, is a common occurrence and is generally not a cause for concern. The odor is a result of the chemical processes taking place as the clay cures and hardens. While the odor may be noticeable, it is typically not harmful. By following proper ventilation practices and selecting appropriate baking temperatures, you can help minimize any potential odor and continue to enjoy working with polymer clay for your creative projects.

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