Crystal Snowflakes

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Listen to Dr. Lisa Chirlian show Kathy how to make butter
- follow along with the steps below!

Last month I explained how to grow sugar crystals to make candy. This month, we are also going to grow crystals only we are going to make them look like snowflakes. Snowflakes are crystals of water. Since water needs to be kept cold to stay solid, you can’t really use water crystals to make things to keep inside.

You need to use other compounds, which are solid at room temperature (like sugar) to make things to keep. For this experiment, we are going to use borax. You can find borax in the laundry aisle of many supermarkets. One brand names is 20 Mule Team. Caution: This experiment uses boiling water which is very hot. Please be sure to have a responsible adult supervising. Also, be sure to wash your hands after working with borax and keep the snowflakes away from small children or pets that might try to eat them!

Materials:

1 cup boiling water
2-3 tablespoons borax
Shallow pan or jar
Pipe cleaners

1) Create your borax solution. Boil one cup of water. Little by little, stir the borax into the water (about a half tablespoon at a time). Keep stirring until no more borax will dissolve.

2) Create your snowflake form. Cut a pipe cleaner into three pieces and twist them together in the middle. If you want to grow your snowflake in a jar, make one piece longer so you can attach it to a pencil and hang it into the jar.

3) Put your snowflake form(s) into the jar or pan. Pour the borax solution on top. Put them in a place where you can check on them daily.

4) When your snowflakes have grown, take them out and let them dry. If you hang them near a sunny window, they will sparkle!

Things to Think About and Do

-
Look at the crystals with a magnifying glass. Compare them to the borax powder you started with... do they look similar or different?
- Can you grow other kinds of snowflakes? You can try this same experiment with sugar, table salt or Epsom salts. Which grows the biggest snowflakes?