Crystals are fascinating, and I remember a science project I did years ago where we grew some awesome crystals. But they took FOREVER to grow! Want to know how to grow crystals with borax fast? Follow our borax crystal recipe below to grow borax crystals overnight for a cool science experiment any rockhound or science enthusiast will love!
About Borax Crystals
The Borax Crystal Growing Experiment is an engaging science project that dives into the fascinating realm of crystallization. This experiment provides a unique opportunity to explore the fundamental principles of chemistry, specifically the concept of supersaturation.
By mixing borax with hot water and allowing it to cool, kids can observe the formation of intricate and beautiful crystal structures. This experiment is not only educational but also an excellent illustration of how temperature changes affect the solubility of substances.
Luckily, you don’t need expensive or unique supplies to learn how to grow crystals with borax. However, if you want to learn how to grow crystals without borax, check out growing salt crystals or growing sugar crystals instead!
You can also use that borax powder for awesome borax slime too! Check the laundry detergent aisle of your supermarket or big box store to pick up a box of borax powder.
Watch the Video:
Borax Crystals Recipe
Try this salt crystal experiment for a preschool-friendly version of the demonstration.
- 8-10 Pipe Cleaners, assorted colors
- 1 ¾ cup Borax
- 5 Plastic cups
- Food Coloring (optional)
- Fishing Line
- 5 Wooden Skewers
- 4 Cups Boiling Water
How to Make Borax Crystals
TIPS FOR HOW TO MAKE LARGE BORAX CRYSTALS
Here are a few notes to get you started growing large borax crystals…
- You will want to set up your 5 cups where they won’t be disturbed. Keeping the kiddos from shaking, moving, or stirring the mixture is important once you have filled the cups.
- The slow cooling of the liquid is an essential part of the process. Generally, we have found that glass works better than plastic. However, the plastic cups worked well this time.
- You can absolutely turn this into a science experiment by growing borax crystals at different temperatures or using different types of containers (glass, plastic, ceramic, etc)
- If your solution cools too quickly, impurities will not have a chance to fall out of the mixture, and crystals may look disorganized and irregular. Generally, crystals are quite uniform in shape.
MAKING BORAX CRYSTALS
STEP 1. Take a pipe cleaner and wind it tightly into a nest shape. To make it bigger, cut another pipe cleaner in half and wind it into the nest. Make at least 5 of these.
STEP 2. Tie a short piece of fishing line to the pipe cleaner nest, and then tie the other end of the line to a skewer. The pipe cleaner nest should hang down about an inch.
STEP 3. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and stir in the borax powder until it is dissolved.
There should be a little bit of Borax on the bottom of the pan or container that does not dissolve. This lets you know you have added enough borax to the water, and it has become a supersaturated solution.
STEP 4. Pour ¾ cup of the mixture into each cup and add food coloring to the cups if desired.
You do not have to add food coloring to the cups since the pipe cleaners are colored, but it can make crystals look a little bolder.
STEP 5. Put one of the pipe cleaner nests into each cup and lay the skewer across the top of the cups so they hang freely.
Try to make sure the pipe cleaners don’t touch the sides or bottom of the cups. If they do touch, the crystals attach the pipe cleaner to the cup. They may break off when you try to pull it free.
STEP 6. Leave your geode-shaped pipe cleaners in the borax solution overnight (or even two nights) until many crystals have grown on them!
STEP 7. Remove your borax crystals from the water and let dry on a layer of paper towels. Once dry, you can cut the fishing line off and you have a gorgeous crystal for your rockhound to observe!
Learning how to grow crystals with borax is a fun experiment for kids to make their own crystal geodes at home or even in the classroom.
How Long Do Borax Crystals Take To Grow?
Let the pipe cleaners sit in the cups overnight for plenty of crystals to grow! You don’t want to agitate the cups by moving or stirring them but check on them with your eyes to observe the process.
You will start to see the recrystallization process begin to happen within a few hours! When you see good crystal growth, remove the objects from the cups and dry them on paper towels overnight.
Although the crystals are quite strong, handle your crystal geodes carefully. Also, encourage your kids to get out magnifying glasses and check out the shape of the crystals!
The Science of Borax Crystals
Crystal growing is a neat chemistry project that is a quick setup involving liquids, solids, and soluble solutions.
Here, you are making a saturated solution with more powder than the liquid can hold. The hotter the liquid, the more saturated the solution can become.
This is because the molecules in the water move farther apart as the temperature increases, allowing more of the powder to be dissolved.
As the solution cools down, there is all of a sudden going to be more particles in the water as the molecules move back together.
Some of these particles will start to fall out of the suspended state they were once in. The particles will start to settle on the pipe cleaners and form crystals. This is called re-crystallization.
Once a tiny seed crystal is started, more falling material bonds with it to form bigger crystals.
Crystals are solid with flat sides and symmetrical shape and will always be that way (unless impurities get in the way). They are made up of molecules and have a perfectly arranged and repeating pattern. Some might be bigger or smaller though.
Learn More About Supersaturation
Growing crystals with borax effectively demonstrate the concept of supersaturation. Supersaturation is a state in which a solution contains more solute (in this case, borax) than it would typically be able to dissolve at a particular temperature. When the solution becomes supersaturated and conditions are right, the excess solute will crystallize and form solid crystals. Here’s how this concept is demonstrated in the borax crystal experiment:
STEP 1: Dissolving Borax: In the experiment, you dissolve borax powder in hot water. The hot water can hold more borax in solution than cold water. As the water cools, it can no longer maintain the same amount of borax in the solution, so some of it starts to come out.
STEP 2: Creating Supersaturation: Initially, you dissolve as much borax as you can in the hot water. This solution is supersaturated because it contains more borax than it would typically hold at a lower temperature (room temperature, in this case).
STEP 3: Seed Crystals: You typically place a seed crystal (a small borax crystal or a pipe cleaner) into the supersaturated solution to encourage crystallization. The seed crystal provides a starting point for the borax molecules to attach to as they come out of the solution.
STEP 4: Crystallization: As the solution cools down, the borax molecules come out of the solution and attach themselves to the seed crystal or any other available surface. This process continues as more and more borax molecules crystallize around the seed crystal.
STEP 5: Growth of Crystals: Over time, the crystals grow larger as more borax molecules adhere to the existing crystal lattice structure. This results in the formation of beautiful and well-defined borax crystals.
The key concept of supersaturation is evident here because you have successfully dissolved more borax in hot water than you could in cold water. When the temperature drops, the solution becomes supersaturated, and the excess borax forms solid crystals. This demonstrates how temperature changes can lead to changes in solubility and the formation of crystals.
More Fun with Borax Crystals
There are so many fun shapes you can make with the pipe cleaners, as well as growing crystals on other objects. Check out these ideas below!
Chemistry for Kids
What is chemistry? Chemistry is like a magical world hidden within the tiniest particles that make up everything around us. It’s all about understanding and exploring what things are made of and how they can change.
Chemists are like wizards who study and experiment with these transformations, helping us make amazing discoveries. From the fizz in your soda to the sparkle in a diamond, chemistry is the secret language of the universe! Learn more about famous scientists here.
It helps us uncover the mysteries of the world and invent fantastic things. So, in a nutshell, chemistry is about the incredible science of stuff, and it’s everywhere, even in the air we breathe and the food we eat (food science). It’s like a super cool puzzle that scientists are always trying to solve!
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