What’s Main Difference Air Dry Clay Polymer Clay

Clay art is one of the most popular, up-and-coming art styles in recent times. Its popularity arises from its wide range of applications, enhanced creative freedom, and simplicity in usage. If you’re still relatively new to clay crafting, then you’re probably wondering what types of clays are commonly used in clay art. 

Generally, there are two popular types of clay that you can use for clay art: air dry clay and polymer clay. Each type of clay has its own unique properties and advantages, differing from each other based on composition, finishings, and more.

If you would like to learn more about the differences between air dry clay and polymer clay, feel free to explore more about this topic with us below. 

What Is Air Dry Clay?

First, let’s discuss what air dry clay is. Air dry clay, as the name suggests, is clay that dries or cures with air. It typically has a spongy, soft, and light composition which makes it very easy to manipulate and shape. Because of this, air dry clay can be used for various projects, the most common being beginners’ craft projects and children’s toys.

Air dry clay takes about one to two days to fully set depending on the thickness of the piece (though the clay may shrink a little during the drying process). Once it has dried, the clay will have a porous and spongy texture. While air dry clay comes in many vibrant colours often sealed in airtight bags, they can also be coloured with acrylic paint. 

Additionally, air dry clay can be sealed with a glaze so that it becomes more resistant to water. It is also suitable for children that are aged 3 years old and above.

What Is Polymer Clay?

Polymer clay remains one of the most popular types of clay due to its versatility. Based on polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVS), polymer clay is very simple to use as its working time is quite short. The clay can easily become soft and malleable once it touches your hands. 

What’s Main Difference Air Dry Clay Polymer Clay

Once you have finished shaping the clay, it will need to be baked or cured to set. The best part is that you can use your home oven, so you won’t need a professional to kiln fire it for you or you won’t need to buy any special drying ovens. 

Polymer clay is commonly used to create just about anything, ranging from beads, keychains, charms, figurines, sculptures, jewellery, and much more. With polymer clay, you are really only limited by your imagination. 

Air Dry Clay vs. Polymer Clay

So what are some of the primary differences between air dry clay and polymer clay? One of the main differences is the way in which each clay sets. While air dry clay sets with air, polymer clay sets by heat. In fact, you can leave polymer clay out in the air for days and it won’t set. Polymer clay also won’t shrink while it is hardening, unlike air dry clay.

Another important difference is that polymer clay is known to be more durable than air dry clay after baking. Once polymer clay is baked, it is waterproof and long-lasting. Meanwhile, air dry clay has the tendency to dissolve in heat or water. 

Applying a glaze to air dry clay is one way to combat its tendency to dissolve in heat or water. On the other hand, it is not usually required to seal polymer clay, but a layer of glaze or liquid clay may be applied should you want to achieve a glossy finish. 

What’s Main Difference Air Dry Clay Polymer Clay

Colouring the clays is also another considerable difference. While air dry clay can be coloured with acrylic paint, polymer clay can be tinted with alcohol ink and touched up with oil paint and acrylic paint since polymer clay is an oil-based product. Chalks, pastels, or mica powders may also be used to colour polymer clay. 

Additionally, polymer clay comes in a wider variety of colours and is known to maintain its shape over time in comparison to air dry clay. You can also create much more detail with polymer clay compared to air dry clay.


As we can see from the above, each type of clay has its own unique characteristics and certain advantages, but overall, polymer clay is a lot more resistant and offers more flexibility in creating just about anything imaginable. It is for this reason that polymer clay has become one of the most popular craft materials in the market.

If you are looking for polymer clay and all the accessories to help you bring your creations to life, then look no further than 2wards Polymer Clay.

Our online shop has a HUGE range of polymer clay, kits, tools, accessories, embellishments, mixed media, jewellery making and other craft products.

Please call us today on +61 (0) 447 943 858 or +61 (0) 429 184 555 or alternatively, send us a message.

Leave a Reply