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Grow Your Own Crystals

Have you ever wondered what crystals are made of or how they’re made? In this activity, you can grow your own crystals with just a few ingredients!

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Plan

  • What do you know about crystals?
  • What materials do you need for this activity?
  • What safety precautions do you need to take to protect yourself during this activity?

Do

  • Twist a pipe cleaner around each of the pencils. Adjust the pipe cleaners' lengths so that when the pencil is laid across the top of one of the jars or large drinking glasses, the end of the pipe cleaner hangs down to just above the bottom of the jar. Make the pipe cleaners equal lengths. You can shape the dangling end of the pipe cleaners into interesting shapes if you prefer.
  • Fill a cooking pot with enough water to fill both jars nearly full. Then bring that water to a boil on the stove. Once the water is boiling, turn the burner off so that the water is no longer boiling. Borax is harmful if inhaled or contacts eyes, so it is advised to not use boiling water when dissolving the borax. (you can also use a kettle to boil water if a stove is not accessible)
  • Add 1 tablespoon (Tbsp) of borax to the water and stir until it dissolves. Continue to add 1 Tbsp at a time until no more dissolves. You will probably need about 3 Tbsp of borax for each cup of water.
  • Carefully pour equal amounts of the borax solution into the jars. Each jar should be about ¾ full.
  • Lay a pencil across the top of each jar so that the pipe cleaner hands down into the solution
  • Cover the tops of the jars with the plastic wrap
  • Leave the jars undisturbed on a countertop or table at room temperature
  • Do not touch the jars for at least 5 hours
  • After 5 hours (or more), carefully remove the plastic wrap and pipe cleaners from the jars and observe the crystals.

Cleanup

  • The extra Borax solution can be poured down the sink
  • To get rid of crystals stuck on the sides of the jars, wash the jars in very hot water.

Review

  • How does the liquid look now? Is it still clear? What happened to the bits of borax that won’t dissolve?
  • How do the size, shape and number of crystals compare to others? Why do you think that is?

Materials

  • Pipe cleaners (1 per person)
  • Pencils (1 per person)
  • Borax
  • Measuring tablespoon
  • Identical jars or large drinking glasses (1 per person)
  • Cooking pot
  • Plastic wrap
  • Water
  • Safety goggles/glasses
  • Gloves

Keep it Simple

  • This experiment works by creating a solution of Borax and water - learn about the differences between mixtures and solutions.

Take it Further

  • Take this activity one step further and create your own edible crystals! Using a very similar method, and different ingredients, you can create your very own rock candy crystal to eat!