Kids love learning how to grow crystals. Oh, who am I kidding? Adults do too! There is something magical about growing your own “geodes” and watching them develop over time. This post will show you the easiest crystals to grow, along with variations and other DIY crystals using various materials.
Before we get started, let’s talk a little bit about the science of crystal growing and how to grow crystals easily at home or in the classroom. Visit this site and know more.
What Are Crystals?
Crystals are a type of solid material formed by patterns of repeating molecules. Crystals have flat surfaces and facets.
Crystals form when a supersaturated liquid solution cools. The water (the solvent) evaporates, leaving behind a solute (a substance dissolved in another substance) whose molecules re-form into new geometric shapes, i.e. crystals.
What Is A Supersaturated Solution?
When a mineral-like salt is dissolved in water, the water can only hold a certain amount of the solute. When the maximum amount of solute is dissolved in the solvent, it is said to be saturated. It is said to be supersaturated when the solution contains more solute than the solvent can actually dissolve. Fun Fact: Hot liquids can hold more solute than cold liquids.
Why Do We Put Something in The Supersaturated Solution Besides The Solute And Solvent?
Impurities in a solution are where the crystal nucleation process starts. Pipe cleaners, pebbles, a sponge, and seed crystals, are places for the new crystals to begin forming.
How Do You Grow Crystals At Home?
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about crystals is that you need specialty ingredients or kits to be able to grow crystals at home. Three of the most well-known ways to grow crystals use easy to find household ingredients: Sugar, Borax, and Epsom Salt. Crystal kits can help to make at home.
For most crystal projects, the process is the same: You will mix up a supersaturated solution of water and a solute like salt or sugar and then suspend something in that solution on which the crystals can form.
Below we’ll share different crystal recipes. Besides the individual ingredients for each recipe, you will need the following for most crystal growing projects at home or in the classroom:
- Space: Because crystals often need 1-4 days to grow, you will need an area where they can sit undisturbed by children or pets for several days.
- A warm, dry environment: Not all, but many crystals grow faster when they are in a warm, dry location that encourages evaporation, a critical process in crystal growth.
- Extra Jars: Crystal growing can be tricky, so plan to make more batches than you need. Gather additional jars and grow as many batches as you can at a time. If some of the crystals don’t grow, you have backups!
What Are The Easiest Crystals to Grow?
It is recommended growing Borax crystals first because they are fairly foolproof. The process is to add Borax to hot water, stir until dissolved, and then suspend something in the solution for the crystals to form. Easy peasy!
Having done this at home and in the classroom, we’ve learned that the one mistake to avoid is not letting the Borax fully dissolve in the water. The best and biggest crystals grow when the Borax is completely dissolved. And the hotter the water, the easier it is for the Borax to dissolve.
How to Grow Borax Crystals?
- Mason Jars
- Hot Water
- Pipe cleaners, pom poms, small fake flowers
- Craft sticks /dowels/pencil
The time needed: 1 day.
1. Warm the water
(Adults only) Boil water on the stove. Let cool to warm but not scalding.
2. Combine ingredients in a jar
The basic ratio is 1 part Borax to 4 parts water. For a standard-sized jar, pour 2 cups of the hot water into the jar, then add 1/2 cup of Borax.
Stir the solution until the Borax is completely dissolved. The biggest crystals form when the Borax is fully dissolved.
4. Add a pipe cleaner
Shape a pipe cleaner or two as desired, and then hang them from a craft stick/dowel/pencil. Place the pipe cleaner into the solution with the craft stick spanning across the top of the jar. Other great items for crystal growing are pom-poms and small fake flowers. How to glue a few to your piper cleaner?
Do something else for 12-24 hours. You will find lovely crystals growing on the pipe cleaners when you come back!
6. Drain and display
After 24-48 hours, your crystals should be fully formed. Remove from the jar and drain the water.
Borax Crystal Tips
- Use glass containers. The hot water may make plastic jars deform or melt.
- Make sure your pipe cleaner creation does not touch the sides or bottom of the jar. It may stick to crystals growing on the jar’s bottom or side if it does.
- If any of your strands fuse, gently pull them apart. Borax crystals are pretty hearty.
- To remove any crystals that may have grown on the sides of your jar, simply fill the jar with hot water and let the Borax dissolve.
How to Grow Bluing Crystals?
We love bluing and salt crystals! They are delicate cauliflower-like crystals that can take on colour, so they are a favourite crystal to grow at camps. They use a specialty ingredient called bluing; a laundry additive used to tint yellowed whites and blue and make them look clean again. It is easily available online and is inexpensive. Here are some other things to note about these crystals:
1. They take 4-5 days to grow fully.
2. They grow best in warm conditions. In fact, if you put them outside on a warm sunny day, you can speed up the evaporation and crystallization process.
3. They are very delicate. If you plan on growing them as part of a science fair experiment, think about how you can transport them very carefully.
These are only some ideas. Try more on your own and enjoy growing at home.