4 Grow Your Own Crystals Science Experiments

Crystals fit into the scope of all things awesome.

Even though kids gawk over them, they don’t always know what crystals are or where they come from. The truth is, crystals are all around us, even though we may not always see them. While different types of crystals have diverse shapes and properties, they all have something in common: they are solid materials in which molecules come together in a repeating pattern.

Crystallization occurs when a liquid solution reaches a maximum concentration in a state known as supersaturation. When this compound begins to cool or evaporate, it triggers the crystallization process. The molecules slowly begin to harden and attract more molecules, bonding together in a regular pattern. This process can take place relatively quickly, such as when water crystallizes into snow. It can also take centuries or millennia, such as stalactite formation in caves.

If you fear that attempting to explain this process to your brood will cause their eyes to glaze over and their minds to wander, try showing them instead. There are loads of crystal recipes you can make at home that will let kids discover how crystals form and what components help determine the resulting properties and shapes. Following are just a few of the amazing DIY crystal projects using supplies that are easy to find:

Form Giant Borax Crystals

If you have a box of Borax in your laundry room and a handful of pipe cleaners (sometimes referred to as chenille stems) in your craft supply stash, you have the beginnings of a huge and striking DIY crystal.

You may not know that Borax is the brand name of a mineral compound known as sodium borate. It is actually found in mines in its crystal formation, which is dried and ground into a powder. This makes it an ideal basis for making crystals at home.

DIY blogger Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse played around with the idea and found out how to create huge, brilliant, colorful crystals using the Borax and pipe cleaner method. She shares her steps in this tutorial. The hot water separates the Borax molecules and makes room for more crystals to dissolve until supersaturation is reached. As the mixture cools and the water evaporates, the molecules move closer together again in crystal formation.

Make Your Own Geodes

Have you ever gotten a simple-looking package wrapped in plain old brown paper, but then opened it to find a breathtaking present? Geodes are nature’s surprise gift. They appear to be ordinary, boring rocks on the outside, but crack one open and you have a little nook filled with captivating crystals.

Homeschooling mom blogger Ann Williams shared her own take on the Borax crystal method on her blog, Ann I Am. Rather than using pipe cleaners to hold the forming crystals, she puts the solution into hollowed-out eggs. The result is a bunch of crystal-filled eggs that greatly resemble real geodes.

Grow Aragonite Crystals from Rocks

One of the most common naturally occurring crystals, aragonite is another type of crystal that you can easily grow at home. In fact, you only require two things: white vinegar and dolomite rocks. Rachelle Doorley of Tinker Lab shares a terrific how-to.

Dolomite is a common sedimentary stone made up of calcium magnesium carbonate. It is often used to make clay. If you cannot find or identify dolomite in your backyard or nearby nature areas, don’t fret because you can purchase it (rather inexpensively) online. If you have access to dolomite clay, you can soak a sponge in it and use this instead of the rock.

The vinegar acts as a weak acid, which dissolves the calcium carbonate in the dolomite. As the vinegar evaporates, the sediment in the stones reforms and “blooms” as crystals on the rocks.

Make Edible Candy Crystals

Just like you, we save the sweet stuff for last. If you ever made rock candy at summer camp or your grandma’s house, then you already have experience growing your own crystals. By supersaturating sugar in hot water, the sugar dissolves as much as it possibly can. As it cools and evaporates, the sugar molecules form crystals.

Jackie at Cake Central took the old rock candy method and updated it. Instead of allowing the sweet crystals to grow on lollipop sticks, she created fondant and chocolate shells in which to grow candy geodes. 

Whether you need an idea for the school science fair or simply want to try a fun and fascinating science experiment at home, any of these crystal growing projects are sure to fit the bill.

What are some of your kids’ favorite science experiments? Share with us!

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