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Borax Crystal Ornaments

Is it Christmas time already?

Let’s create some homemade crystal ornaments with the kids.

Kids will learn some science while decorating the Christmas tree with ornaments they create.

In this experiment, we will use a saturated solution made out of Borax powder.

This is a perfectly safe experiment for kids under adult supervision. You can easily find Borax in the washing machine detergent aisle in stores.

Worried about Borax being toxic?

Check out this article that explains how people confuse Borax for boric acid which is toxic.

While Borax is not toxic, you should not ingest it.

Just like even though detergent is not toxic, you should not drink it!

crystal ornament science experiment

Borax Christmas Ornaments

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Active Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes

Here is an easy Christmas ornament craft by growing borax crystals. It's super simple and fast. It can be done within hours.

Materials

  • Borax (found in laundry section)
  • colorful pipe cleaners
  • water
  • twine

Tools

  • wide-mouth jar or glass
  • a pencil or stick that is longer than the glass/jar's opening
  • imagination 🙂
  • adult supervision

Instructions

  1. Bend a pipe cleaner into the shape you want to make a crystal out of. This is the step you can use your imagination.
  2. Fill the glass with water to around three quarters full. Then use a measuring cup to measure the amount of water used.
  3. Boil the water in a pan under adult supervision.
  4. Carefully pour the boiling water into the glass.
  5. Dissolve plenty of Borax into the hot water. For each cup of water, I used 3 tablespoons of Borax.
  6. Stir the water until all the powder has dissolved or the powder left at the bottom cannot dissolve further. This phenomenon is called saturation.
  7. Tie the shape you've made onto a twine. Hang it using the pencil or stick and put it into the Borax solution. Make sure the pipe cleaner is fully submerged and not touching the side of the glass.
  8. Put the glass in an area where it won't be disturbed for the next few hours.
  9. Crystals should start forming immediately and a layer of crystals will cover the pipe cleaner completely within 3-4 hours.
    Unlike growing crystals using sugar or salt, crystallization using Borax is relatively fast. Crystals can be seen forming as early as two hours after the glass is set aside.

Notes

One of the most salient properties of water is its ability to dissolve other materials. In this experiment, Borax powder was dissolved into the water until the solution is saturated, meaning no more powder can be absorbed by the water.

Water can dissolve more powder when it is hot. As the water cools, the powder starts to solidify, i.e. turning from a liquid form into a solid form. The precipitated solid sticks together and form crystals

christmas tree shape ornament made of borax crystals

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For more scientific explanations on crystallization, see Nucleation and Crystal Growth.

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