I recall having varying success trying to grow crystals as a child, and it’s a project I’ve been meaning to do with my kids for quite some time now. Growing Crystals from Borax is a really fun activity to try at home. Here we show you how to grow crystal stars to hang on your Christmas Tree.
You can grow crystals from pretty much any salt (Table, Epsom and Borax) as well as sugar. The science behind it, put simply, is that water can only hold a certain amount of crystalline substance in solution. In other words, you can only dissolve so much in it before it becomes saturated. By heating the water it has the capacity to hold more, as it’s molecules have moved further apart. As your solution cools, the molecules move closer together again, causing your solid to crystallise out of the solution once more. The crystals are attracted to solid surfaces to reform, so you can encourage them to grow where you want them to by providing a foreign object within the solution. For our crystals we chose to use Borax, as the crystals are reputed to be fairly sturdy once they have formed, and we plan to use ours as decorations.
What you need to grow crystals as Christmas decorations.
Start by cutting the pipe cleaner into 3 equal lengths. Then twist it in the middle so it holds it shape. You can use any shape and object to grow the crystals on. Generally, having a rough surface for the crystal to attach to works best.
Bend a little loop on one of the arms, and twist an extra piece of wire onto it to hold it firm. Once you suspend your object in the solution it will try to float up if it is not held securely.
Use your jar as a guide to work out how long to leave the suspension wire so it holds the pipe cleaner star in the centre of the jar. Wrap the other end of the wire around the pencil to support it. You don’t want the star to touch the bottom or sides of the jar.
How to Make the Borax Crystal Growing Solution.
Heat up 1 litre of water until it is very hot (but not boiling) and stir in the borax a tablespoon at a time until no more will dissolve. In our case it was 10 tablespoons. Then pour into the jar and pop in the pipe cleaner star. The photo above shows our crystals after about 2 hours.
And here are our finished crystal Christmas decorations. The star on the right was left overnight, whereas the one of the left was only in the solution for 3 or 4 hours. The crystals are fairly robust, over time they can become less sparkly, and it is suggested that you paint them with a clear nail polish to prevent this happening. I believe that by adding food colouring to your solution you can grow crystals of different colours, although we haven’t tried this yet. The kids absolutely loved growing crystals, and can’t wait to take them in for show and tell at school!