Can You Take Polymer Clay On a Plane? TSA Rules

Whether you’re a clay crafter, a sculptor, or wanted you just want to keep your children busy with clay, you might wonder if you can bring some clay with you on your next flight. 

In this post, I’ll give you some tips and tricks on how to pack and travel with all types of clay, and what to watch out for when crossing borders. 

Let’s dive right in.

The TSA’s Take on Clay

The TSA has a list of items that you can’t bring or restricted in carry-on and checked bags, and you can find it on their website.

Unfortunately, modeling or other types of clay are not mentioned on their list.

So you might think that it’s okay to bring it on a plane. 

It is not that simple.

The TSA states that the final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint. 

Here is an answer given to Ariana on X.

The @AskTSA replied that even if an item is generally allowed, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed at all if it triggers an alarm, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns.

So, what does this mean for other types of clay? 

Well, it depends on the mood of the TSA officer or the type and amount of clay you have.

Some types of clay, such as air-dry clay, polymer clay, or modeling clay, are relatively harmless and unlikely to cause any problems.

But if you have other forms of clay or you want to bring some of your crafting tools along, the best advice I can give you is to check with the TSA. 

You can tag @AskTSA like Ariana did in the screenshot above followed with your question (with an image if available) and they will do their best to answer you.

If your clay kit contains any liquid or gel items, ensure that you follow the TSA 3-1-1 liquid rule.

Smol Tip

Can you take clay in checked baggage?

Bringing clay on a plane in your checked baggage is fine.

The TSA and airlines don’t have any special rules for packing clay in checked baggage.

But if you’re carrying fragile items like souvenir fragile clay critters or  greenware pots it is better to avoid packing them in a checked bag or at least ensure that you use a solid suitcase that will absorb the hits.

If you do, you need to trust the the airline will take good care of your items and make sure it gets to where you’re going.

Airline Regulations

Within the US there is only the TSA rules.

So whether you’re booking with United Airlines, JetBlue ,Delta, Southwest, American Airlines, or any other airline it makes no difference as all of them follow the TSA guidelines.

How to pack clay for travel?

  • Choose the right container. The container you use to pack your clay should be sturdy, sealable, and leak-proof.   
  • Wrap your clay. Before you put your clay in the container, you should wrap it with some material for added protection (especially in checked baggage). You can use paper towels, newspaper, cloth, or plastic wrap.  
  • Label your clay and keep any raw clay in its original unopened packaging if possible. After you pack your clay in the container, you should label it clearly with your name and contact information, and a description of what it is. This will help the TSA or the airline identify your clay and contact you if there are any issues.  

Can You Bring Clay on International Flights?

The TSA rules are applied if you are traveling internationally from the US.

In other words, you can bring clay on international flights in both carry-on and checked bags with no limits.

It’s important to know that a some countries might have their own regulations about certain types of clay, but generally, it’s not a huge problem.

The worst thing that might happen is that the country customs could take away your clay if it doesn’t meet the rules.

Final Thoughts

So, can you bring clay on a plane? 

Different clay types, from air-dry to polymer or modeling clay, are generally considered safe and travel-friendly. 

But, the lowdown is that the TSA doesn’t explicitly list clay as a prohibited item, the final say rests in the hands of the TSA officer at the airport.

Just ensure that  you convince them that your clay is safe.

If you are thinking of taking your clay across borders, you can also do so, but it is better to double-check with your airline beforehand.

I hope you find this helpful

Traveling with other types of clay:

Clay Products Carry-on bags Checked bags
Clay dishes and pots Allowed Allowed
Hair claySpreadable Hair clay must be 3.4 oz or less & packed in a single quart-sized zip top bag along with your other liquids.Allowed
Clay cutter knifeTools 7 inches or longer (measured from end to end when assembled) are not allowed in carry-on baggage.Allowed

Other types of clay: