Does polymer clay smell?

Polymer clay is a popular and versatile medium used by artists and crafters to create a wide variety of projects, from jewelry and sculptures to decorative items and more. A common question that arises when working with polymer clay is whether it has a smell. In this article, we’ll explore the topic of polymer clay odor, its potential causes, and ways to minimize any lingering scents.

The Odor of Raw Polymer Clay

Raw polymer clay does have a distinct odor, which is often described as a chemical or plastic-like smell. This odor is more noticeable when you first open a package of polymer clay or start working with it. The smell is a result of the materials used in the production of polymer clay, such as plasticizers, stabilizers, and pigments.

Causes of Odor

The odor of polymer clay can be attributed to various factors:

  • Ingredients: The chemicals and compounds used in polymer clay production, such as plasticizers and additives, can contribute to the initial odor.
  • Brands and Formulas: Different brands and formulas of polymer clay may have varying levels of odor. Some brands may have a stronger smell than others.
  • Conditioning: Kneading and conditioning the clay can release trapped air and intensify the odor, especially if you’re working with a large amount of clay.

Minimizing Odor

While the odor of raw polymer clay is temporary and usually dissipates over time, there are steps you can take to minimize the smell:

  • Ventilation: Work in a well-ventilated area to allow fresh air to circulate and help disperse any lingering odor.
  • Avoid Overworking: Try to minimize excessive kneading or conditioning, as this can intensify the odor. Instead, work with smaller portions of clay and take breaks if needed.
  • Store Properly: Seal unused portions of clay in airtight containers or resealable bags to prevent the release of odor and to keep the clay fresh.
  • Baking: Baking polymer clay at the recommended temperature and duration can help eliminate any residual odor. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for baking.
  • Choose Low-Odor Brands: Some brands of polymer clay are known for having less noticeable odors. You may want to explore different brands to find one that suits your preferences.


In conclusion, raw polymer clay does have a distinct odor that is often described as chemical or plastic-like. This odor is a result of the materials used in the production of polymer clay and is more noticeable when the clay is first opened or manipulated. While the smell is temporary and typically dissipates over time, there are steps you can take to minimize the odor, such as working in a well-ventilated area, avoiding excessive conditioning, and storing the clay properly. Ultimately, the odor of polymer clay should not deter you from exploring its creative possibilities and crafting beautiful projects.

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