Colour Runs are hugely popular (and messy) alternatives to a standard fun-run, where brightly coloured powder is thrown onto participants as they run the course. They make great fundraisers for schools, because kids love getting messy, and they are pretty joyful to watch. Learn how to organise a DIY school fun run here.
When it comes to sourcing the coloured powder you have two choices – you can make it yourself, or purchase it from a company that supplies the powders.
Most DIY and Commercial sites agree that you need to allow around 350-400g of powder per person.
The biggest advantage to making your own colour powder, is that you can be 100% sure of what goes into it. It’s debatable if it actually ends up much cheaper unless you get your ingredients donated (see below). However, it’s pretty messy and time consuming to make (especially if you have a big school), and the colours might not be as brilliant as the shop bought product.
If you purchase from a shop, you will save yourself a lot of time and effort and have great colours, but you will eat into your profits because the costs will be higher. You also need to ensure you purchase from a reputable company with safe, non-toxic products and don’t forget to take shipping costs into account.
Option 1 – Make your own coloured powder
Making your own coloured powder is basically adding food colour to cornflour. I have attached some links below for specific techniques and ingredients, but the basic process is to add water and gel food colour to the powder, dry it out, and process/sift it (to get the lumps out).
Most of the DIY sites agree that you want to use the gel food colours, not liquid, as the colours are much more vibrant, although gel colours are much more expensive than the liquid colours.
DIY – Ingredients and Cost
Cornflour is available at all supermarkets for around $4-$5/kg.
Gel food colours cost approximately $5 per bottle (look for brands like Wilton or Americolour) and are available at Spotlight and speciality baking stores, many of which are online.
Recipes vary, but you will need approximately one bottle of food gel for every 4 cups of corn flour.
One cup of cornflour weighs approximately 125g. If you want around 400g of coloured powder per participant – that will be three cups of cornflour per participant, ¾ of a bottle of gel dye, at a cost of around $5 per person.
Obviously if you get your items donated or on sale, the cost will drop considerably.
Inspiration Made Simple has a recipe that involves 2 cups of corn flour to half a bottle (0.5oz) of gel food colour. By baking it in the oven to dry it out, it can be ready in as little as 1.5 hours.
Dukes and Duchesses recommends 1 container of food gel (1 oz) for every 2 cups of corn flour, but suggests you can even double the amount of cornflour and water without the extra gel colour, and still get a bold colour. The process calls for a gradual, air-drying of the paste, but does warn about keeping the mixture stirred and rotated to avoid it going mouldy.
Cute as a Fox has an alternative recipe which uses non-toxic paint powder and cornflour, but the colours look a bit pale compared to other options.
A Classroom Full of Smiles warned making the powder was laborious and made back up wet colour (water, vinegar and food colour) which she thought worked much better.
Option 2: buy your powder from a supplier
It’s safe to say the shop-bought powders tend to be much brighter than home made powders, and are a lot less work. They do come at a cost though, and below are some of the companies providing coloured powders in Australia. Some powders are manufactured in India and some in Europe. All claim to non-toxic and safe.
Remember to take into account shipping costs and times. GST is included in the quoted prices and are valid at the time of publishing (February 2019).
Where can you buy coloured powders in Australia
Location: Dubbo, NSW
10kg single colour tub $90
100gm packet $1.20
Freight varies depending on total weight and destination. For example 10kg from Dubbo to Sydney $19 and 100kg to Sydney is $85.
Holi Colour Powder (Wholesale)
10gk bulk lot $68.
Free Shipping for orders over $100
Location: Highett, Victoria
10 x 100g packets $14
1kg bulk packet $13
Check here for information about postage and freight: https://www.colourpowderaustralia.com.au/postage-shipping
Quality Coloured Powder
Location: Coolum Beach, Qld
Sells regular coloured powder, precious (gold and silver) plus powders that glow under UV lights
100g packets start at $1.65 (for orders of 200+ bags)
1kg bags start at $15.95 (for orders of 21+ bags)
5kg bags start at $59.50 (for orders of 15+ bags)
UV powders and gold/silver are marginally more expensive
Free postage for bulk orders – check here for full pricing details https://www.qualitycolouredpowder.com.au/pricing-and-orders-au.html
Location: Hemmant, Queensland
500g bag $6.50
10kg bucket $79 (normally $120)
10 x 100g packets $20
Free shipping on orders over $150
Location: Chatswood, NSW
100g bag $2.99
6 x 100g bags $6.95
5kg bucket $84.95
6 x 5kg buckets $399.99
Courier costs are calculated at the check-out.