School’s out and things are getting real around here. The kids are B.O.R.E.D. I mean, we’ve only been out of school for two days, but they’re really bored. So what do you do with a bunch of really, seriously bored kids who still have two whole months of summer break ahead of them? Science, of course! I love to keep a small stockpile of supplies around for simple science experiments, and Borax Crystals are one of my favorites.
This is a really simple experiment that only requires a few easily found ingredients and a very small amount of time – the experiment itself can take as little as 15-20 minutes (depending on how many crystals you make and how creative you are with the designs), and the results happen overnight! Start some Borax Crystals in the afternoon and the kids will be able to marvel at the result by breakfast the next morning!
It’s also a great way to keep the kids learning and absorbing information, and to show them just how fun science can be. Want to know how it’s possible to make these awesome crystals with nothing more than some borax, hot water and pipe cleaners? It’s pretty simple to explain – the solubility of Borax increases with temperature. What does that mean? Simply that hot water can hold more Borax than cold water. We begin our experiment by mixing Borax and hot water, then leaving the pipe cleaners in the solution as it cools overnight. As this hot mixture cools there is more Borax than the cold water can hold, so Borax falls out of the mixture forming crystals on the surfaces inside.
Borax crystals are clear, so when we use colored pipe cleaners the color shows right through, giving the illusion of a big, colorful crystal!
These Borax Crystals are very simple to create, making this perfect for younger kids (as long as an adult is handling the Borax and hot water!), and fun for older kids as they make more complex designs and crystal shapes. For older kids, I also like to talk a little bit more about the molecules in hot and cold water and how they play a role in solubility of solids – you can find some great YouTube videos on this explanation if you’d like to offer the kids more of a science lesson, or if you’re doing this for a science fair!
So let’s jump in and make some DIY Borax Crystals!
Glass Mason Jars, or other large glass jars/bowls
You’ll start out by creating your pipe cleaner shapes. You can form the pipe cleaners into balls for more solid rock-like crystals, or create fun shapes. My older kids like to get creative and form their names, bunny ears or fancy spirals.
Once the shapes are complete you’ll take a short length of string (short enough that it will keep the pipe cleaner from touching the bottom of the jar you are using) and tie one end to the pipe cleaner and the other end to a wooden skewer.
At this point you can mix your borax. Fill your jars with HOT water, and add 4 Tablespoons of Borax for every cup of water. Stir until the Borax has dissolved. Gently hang your pipe cleaners into the jar, making sure not to touch the sides or bottom.
Leave them overnight to wake up to crystal filled jars in the morning!
Remove them from the jars and lay them on some paper towel to dry before cutting the strings off (or leave them on and hang them as ornaments or sun catchers!).
We even made Easter Bunny shaped crystals for Easter. This year we are going to make star shapes for our Christmas tree!
We did this for a my son’s second grade Science Fair and it was a huge hit – he brought enough crystals to hand out to his class and parents were calling me all week for instructions on making their own! If you love this project share your crystal pics with me by tagging me on social media (@BearHugsAndBlanketForts) on Facebook and Instagram!