Let’s Learn About: Crystals

January 23 115Several months ago, I purchased a box of borax so that the boys and I could make homemade slime. Since that day, the borax has sat on a shelf! I didn’t know what else to do with it, except add it to the laundry occasionally to brighten the whites.

But then this post from Gift of Curiosity caught my attention. Crystals from borax? Yes, crystals from borax . . . apparently, a classic elementary school science experiment that I missed out on years ago! I couldn’t wait to try it with the boys.

How to Create Borax Crystals

1. Bend a pipe cleaner into any shape you desire. Since Valentine’s Day is approaching, we created hearts.

January 23 0732. Tie a string onto the shape and wrap it around a pencil. Hang the shape inside of an empty 1 quart mason jar.

January 23 0743. Mix 9 TBSP borax with 3 cups of HOT water and stir until the borax is dissolved. We colored our water with red food dye to see if colored crystals would grow. It did not work.

4. Pour the hot borax solution into the jar. Wait 8 hours for large crystal growth.

January 23 1125. If you add a fresh pipe cleaner shape to the cooled borax solution after removing the large crystals, you will experience small crystal growth.

January 26 002Why it Works

Hot water will dissolve a higher quantity of borax than cool water. As the water cools, the super saturated borax solution becomes unstable, causing the excess borax to crystallize on the pipe cleaner (reference).

Larger crystals will grow in super saturated borax solutions, whereas smaller crystals will grow in less saturated solutions because most of the excess borax has already been crystallized. To make even larger crystals, repeat the experiment with your already crystallized pipe cleaner in the new borax solution!

Displaying the Crystals

Though fragile, the crystals will last a long time if they are handled gently. We hung our crystals from suction cup hooks in the window and have been enjoying them as sun-catchers!

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7 thoughts on “Let’s Learn About: Crystals

  1. Those are beautiful. My kids love crystals, I would really like to make my own rock candy for a science project. Thanks for sharing at Mom’s Library!

  2. Thanks for explaining the “why” behind the crystals. I wanted a simple explanation for how the crystals form, and yours was perfect! Love the heart shapes too. I’m trying to figure out a good way to do this with a small group of 4-year-olds.

  3. Pingback: (tot school tuesday) 10 valentine's day activities for kids

  4. Pingback: Making Crystals Science Experiment : Teach.Learn.Imagine.

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