Dissolving Dinosaur Skin

About a month ago, my husband started reminiscing about a toy he loved from the 80’s (Mad Scientist Monster Lab). The basic premise was that you attach “skin” to a monster and then watch it disintegrate in a acid. Fun, right?! Well, since we couldn’t just run down to our local toy store to pick up a kit (although there was one selling on Ebay for 50 bucks!), we decided to try and make our own. How hard could it be, right?

Famous last words, lemme tell you.

First, it was impossible to find monster skeletons. (Ended up getting these dinosaur ones) Then, finding the perfect container that would fit the dinos but not be so big that you couldn’t see all the fizzing and foam. We looked at practically every plastic container we could find in town. We even tried the local restaurant supply store (which worked out anyway since I found our Easy Interchangable Art Hangers there!) We ended up finding a perfectly sized container in a water beads kit at Toys R Us but thought a Sea Monkey cup would have worked well too. Let me know if you find anything better!

Now, we just had to figure out how to actually make the dissolving dinosaur skin. Luckily, David A. Katz came to the rescue! He’s a science demonstrator out of Tucson that posted a recipe for Monster Flesh. Awesome, right?

Well, as you may have guessed, having the “flesh” work the first time would have been too easy so we had to recreate the project 4 or 5 times before we came up with ratios that perfectly matched my husband’s memory of the Monster Lab. I hate to say it but this project was slowly wearing on my last crafty nerve. Jack, of course, loved every single minute of it!

So, after many tries and few curse words…I present Dissolving Dinosaur Skin! (adapted from David A. Katz’ Monster Flesh)

Dissolving Dinosaur Skin

– Skeleton (little skeletons are fun but you really could do anything. Popsicle sticks or rocks would work too!)
– Play Dough
– Baking Soda
– Citric Acid
– Clear Plastic Container


1. Take a handful of either store bought or homemade play dough (large enough to cover skeleton) and mix in 2 tbsp of baking soda. Add a little water if the dough becomes too dry.

2. Form “skin” onto skeleton. Jack loved this part!

3. Prepare the acid bath! That sounded dramatic, huh? Really you’re just going to add 1 tbsp of citric acid to 2 cups of water.

4. Now, all you have to do is drop the skeleton into the acid and marvel as the skin dissolves and foams up! Disclosure: I was kinda bummed that you couldn’t really see all this happening since the water clouded up but Jim assured me that the original kit did this as well! The foam bubbles got fairly large and were pretty cool, though. Jack was amazed when we pulled a totally clean skeleton out of the liquid!

We actually got more use out of this project since Jack’s best little buddy’s birthday was coming up. So, I put together a little kit to include with a dinosaur sticker book. This is a bit of a tangent but does anyone else feel the need to include something store bought when gifting handmade? I just worry that other people don’t think handmade gifts are as awesome as I do!

Overall, making Dissolving Dinosaur Skin was a fun, if somewhat exhausting, project. Hope you all benefit from our multitude of failures and enjoy making your own Dissolving Dinosaur Skin. ūüôā

Please refrain from eating any part of Moldable Skin (Play Dough/Baking Soda) or Prehistoric Acid (Citric Acid). Washing hands after use highly suggested.

Linked: Today’s Creative Blog,



  1. I am thinking about doing this as an activity with a large group of kids. I was just wondering how long does it take for the “skin” to dissolve?


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