Grow your own crystal snowflake! These incredible snowflakes can be hung in your window as suncatchers or hung on your Christmas Tree as spectacular ornaments.
- Dowel or Kebab Stick
- Food Coloring
- Pipe Cleaners
- Wide Mouthed Container
- Cut the pipe cleaner into 3 equal lengths
- Twist the 3 pipe cleaner pieces into a star shape. Make sure that the star can fit inside the container without touching the sides or bottom
- Bend the end of one of the pipe cleaners into a hook shape and tie the thread tightly around this hook. Tie the other end around a kebab stick (or pencil) so that when you place the kebab stick over the mouth of the container, the star will be held inside the container without touching the sides or bottom.
- Put the star to one side
- Fill the container with boiling water, one cup at a time until it is nearly full, making a note of how many cups of water were used (ADULTS ONLY)
- Add 3 tablespoons of borax to the container for every cup of water that you added and stir until all the borax is dissolved
- Add food coloring to the borax mix – the more color you add the stronger the color of your snowflake will be (optional)
- Hang the snowflake over the top of the container as described above
- Leave the container of borax undisturbed overnight. In the morning pretty crystals will have formed, creating a crystal snowflake
- Warning: Be sure to use caution when dealing with boiling water
- Warning: Borax is harmful if ingested: do not swallow
- Borax is a laundry detergent and can be found in most grocery stores.
- Sugar or Salt can be used in place of Borax – just add enough sugar / salt to saturate the water (i.e. keep adding until it no longer dissolves) and be prepared to wait longer for the crystals to grow
- The Science: Substances that can be dissolved in water are known as “soluble substances”. A given amount of water can only contain a certain amount of a soluble substance. Once this amount has been reached, no more of the solid can be dissolved. However, hot water can contain more than cold water. If you saturate a container of hot water with a salt such as borax, and allow it to cool, then as the solution cools the water can no longer hold as much of the salt, and so crystals begin to form on any available surface.
- sciencebuddies.org have a very detailed description of this project together with information on the science behind the growing of crystals. It is worth a look: www.sciencebuddies.org