Aren’t crystals pretty? Did you know that you can grow crystals pretty easily at home AND it’s a cool chemistry activity too! You got it, all you need are a couple ingredients and you too can make these gorgeous pipe cleaner crystal trees that look like they are covered in ice! Terrific winter themed science for kids!


Pipe Cleaner Crystal Trees Winter Chemistry Activity and Crystal Growing Science Experiment for Kids

We have done quite a few crystal growing activities on different surfaces around here including egg shells, but we have found the pipe cleaner crystal growing method is one of the best. Plus, the crystals really do the job all by themselves.

Crystal Snowflake ornament made with borax water pipe cleaners

You just have a small role to play getting the crystal growing solution set up! Now it’s mostly an adult led chemistry experiment unless you have older, capable kids. You are working with borax powder and hot water which calls for caution and care. You can also make slime with borax too!

However, it’s still a fun process for kids to observe an be a part of too. If you want a crystal growing method that is much more hands-on, try growing salt crystals with your kids instead! They can do more the work!

Growing crystals for kids chemistry experiment and winter activity

You can shape your pipe cleaner trees any which way you want including snowflakes, hearts, gingerbread men, rainbows, and more! This crystal tree was made by simply curling the pipe cleaner around itself like a spring. Pull it around a bit till you get it right, but there is now wrong way to make one.

Make a fun sculpture and learn a little bit about chemistry too. read on for the science behind these cool crystals. Also make sure to check out crystal seashells. Not made pipe cleaners which makes it a fun twist.

Pipe cleaner crystal trees science with borax crystals


Crystal tree for winter science


Get Prepared! Gather your supplies and clear a workspace. Growing crystals doesn’t require much effort but they do need a quiet place to rest. It’s important that you don’t disturb them for about 24 hours. However, you can observe the changes all you want!


Borax Powder {laundry aisle of most stores}


Pipe Cleaners

Mason Jars

Tablespoon, Measuring Cup, Bowl, Spoon


The ratio of borax to water is 3 tablespoons to 1 cup, so you can determine how much you need. This experiment to make two pipe cleaner crystal trees required 2 cups and 6 tablespoons.

You want hot water. I bring the water to just boiling. Measure the correct amount of water and stir in the correct amount of borax powder. It will not dissolve. It will be cloudy. This is what you want, a saturated solution. Optimal crystal growing conditions!

We dropped our twist trees in the bottom each container. We tested out both plastic and glass containers. Often we will suspend them inside the container, and you can check that out here with our crystal snowflakes!

Borax Crystal Growing Science Experiment

Now on to the science behind growing pipe cleaner crystal trees! 

You can read more on crystal growing but lets start with the basics. What you made in the beginning of the project is called a saturated solution.

The borax has been suspended throughout the solution and remains that way while the liquid is hot. A hot liquid will hold more borax than a cold liquid!

As the solution cools, the particles settle out of the saturated mixture, and the settling particles form the crystals that you see. The impurities remain behind in the water and cube like crystals will form if the process of cooling is slow enough.

Using a plastic cup versus the glass jar caused a difference in the formation of the crystals. As a result, the glass jar crystals are more heavy duty, larger, and cube shaped.

While the plastic cup crystals are smaller and more irregularly shaped. Much more fragile too. The plastic cup cooled off more quickly and they contained more impurities than those in the glass jar.

You will find that the crystal growing activities that take place in the glass jar hold up quite well to little hands and we still have some of the candy cane crystal ornaments for our tree.

Crystal growing science activity

You must try this science activity with your kids of all ages! Remember, you can try growing crystals with salt too!

Pipe cleaner crystal tree for winter chemistry science experiment


Click on all the photos below for more science and STEM activities you will have to try with the kids!


Science Experiments and STEM Activities for kids Science Engineering Technology Math Ideas


Fizzing science experiments chemistry activities  for kids STEM