Making crystals

It’s summer, and we all need things we can do with our kids.  So how about something fun and educational?  Like crystals.  Salt crystals are quick and easy.  Sugar crystals are slow and tasty.  Both are fun.

Salt crystals

(I was amazed how fast these crystals grew.  In less than 24 hours, there were actual crystals you could see.  I tried adding food coloring to the solution to make a colored crystal, but we still ended up with white crystals.  After several days, I took out the crystals and let the boys touch, dissect, and destroy them.)

Things you need:

  • Table or Epson Salt (2 or 3 Tsp)
  • 1 cup of water
  • Pot
  • Spoon
  • Jar
  • Pencil
  • String
  • Paperclip, washer, or pull-tab of a soda can (I was desperate.)

Tie a piece of string around the middle of the pencil.  Tie the other end of the string around the weight (aka paperclip or washer).  Make sure the weight doesn’t touch the bottom of the jar.  Pour a cup of water into the pan and bring it to a boil.  Add salt a teaspoon at a time, stirring, until you cannot dissolve anymore salt.  Pour the salt water solution into the jar.  Place the pencil across the mouth of the jar, allowing the weight to dangle into the solution.  Do not touch.  Allow the crystals to grow for several days.

Sugar crystals

(These were much tastier.  But they took For-Ev-Er.  It took about a week to see any crystals, and it’ll take three weeks to have a crystal worthwhile to eat.  Last year I tried a recipe that doubled the amount of sugar so that the crystals would form faster.  It didn’t work.  Patience is a virtue.  A sugar crust formed on the top of the solution before the crystals started to form.)

Things you need:

  • Two cups of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • Pot
  • Spoon
  • Jar
  • Pencil
  • String
  • Weight like a paperclip, washer or pull-tab of a soda can

Tie one end of the string to the middle of the pencil.  Tie the other end of the string on the weight.  The weight should be able to dangle in the jar without touching the bottom.  Wet the string and roll it in sugar.  Boil two cups of water.  Stir in sugar a tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is dissolved.  Pour the sugar salt solution into the jar.  Place the pencil on the mouth of the jar allowing the weight to dangle in the solution.  Place the jar out of reach and wait for the crystals to form.

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6 Responses to “Making crystals”

  1. ck Says:

    I’m so excited about this salt crystal idea! I need some craft ideas (now that I can no longer deny the presence of summer vacation.) Thanks, Fae.

  2. faemom Says:

    I’ve got a few more coming to hold us over until the bopys can agree on a craft time where Aidan is sleeping, the older boys are awake and the toys are put away.

  3. zeemaid Says:

    wow that sounds really neat. I get what you mean about the sugar though… no kids wants to wait that long for results… although I’d be more tempted to make them the sugar treat.. *L*

  4. faemom Says:

    Most of the time the boys forgot about the crystals. Until they were big enough to see, and then I had to remind them we wanted the crystals bigger.

  5. rockwatching Says:

    A neat thing to try with kids would be mixing corn starch with water and then have them experiment with its resistance to forced energy and pressure and then have them see what happens with a finger slowly sunk into the material.

  6. faemom Says:

    Thanks for the idea. I’ll have to try it with the boys.


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