Make a Crystal Snowflake

Overview

Crystals are made up of molecules arranged in a repeating pattern that extends in all three dimensions. 

Chemicals

Materials

  • 12 scoops of Borax

  • Food coloring (optional)

  • 50 mL water

Affiliate links to chemicals.

*Note: These chemicals can be purchased locally at stores such as Walmart/Target.

  • White pipe cleaners

  • Mortar and pestle

  • Glass beaker

  • 4 Test tubes in stand

  • Alcohol burner + stand + lighter

Procedure

1.  Cut pipe cleaners to 12 cm; bend top and hook inside test tube.

2. In mortar and pestle, crush borax and put 3 scoops into each test tube.

3.  In glass beaker, heat water to boiling over alcohol lamp.

4. Carefully pour liquid into test tubes till almost full.

5. Use glass stirring rod to mix solution.

6. Leave overnight.

The Science Behind the Reaction

Borax (sodium borate) grows in a crystal pattern.  When borax and boiling water meet, it can store more borax (called hypersaturation). When the solution cools, it can't hold as much of the borax solution. Crystals begin to form on top of each other.

Keep Experimenting!

Do the experiment in your beaker and shape the pipe cleaner in different formations.  Add food coloring.