Making crystals with pots of water and dissolved salt is an almost magical experience. If this type of project piques your interest, read the tips below to experiment and gain knowledge at the same time!
Method 1 of 3: Using Simple Methods to Make Salt Crystals
Step 1. Heat a casserole with water
You will need about ½ cup (120 ml) of water. Warm it up until it starts bubbling.
- Children should not do this experience without adult supervision.
- You can use plain water, but distilled is even better.
- Water molecules will accelerate as temperature increases.
Step 2. Choose the type of salt
There are several different types, each of which generates crystals of its own shape. Try the options below and see what happens:
- Normal table salt takes a few days to form crystals. The "iodized" salt also forms crystals, but it doesn't work so well.
- Epsom salts (or magnesium sulfate) form visible crystals within hours. Buy at any drugstore.
- Alum also grows fast and forms crystals within a few hours. Buy it in the spices section.
Step 3. Add as much salt as you see fit
Remove the casserole from the fire. Add ¼ to ½ cup (60 to 120 ml) of salt and stir until the water is clear. If you don't notice a buildup of salt grains in the water, add a little more and continue until the product doesn't completely dissolve.
- The goal here is to make a supersaturated solution, in which the water cannot dissolve all the salt. That's why you need to heat the solution (the water): so that the molecules accelerate and expand, allowing the solute (the salt) to be absorbed in greater amounts.
Step 4. Transfer the water to a clean pot
Bring the hot water to a pot or other transparent container. It has to be very clean so that nothing interferes with the formation of crystals.
- Transfer the water slowly and stop before the salt grains fall into the pot. If so, the crystals can grow in the wrong shape.
- Do not move the container. Otherwise, due to the instability of supersaturated solutions, the salt will come out of the mixture and soon start to form crystals, which lowers the overall temperature.
Step 5. Add food coloring (optional)
You can use a few drops of food coloring to change the color of the crystals and even make them a little smaller and more lumpy.
Step 6. Tie a piece of string to a pencil
The pencil has to be long to stay on top of the pot. You can also use a Popsicle stick or something.
The grains of salt will stick to the string and form crystals. So it's no use using a fishing line
Step 7. Cut the cord to a nice length
Crystals will form around the part of him that gets submerged in water. Don't let the material touch the bottom of the pot, or the final product will become lumpy and small.
Step 8. Place the pencil on top of the glass jar
The cord has to be left hanging and submerged in water. If the pencil doesn't sit still, secure it with tape.
Try not to let the string touch the bottom of the pot, or the crystals will get smaller and more lumpy
Step 9. Take the pot to a safe place
Store the pot in a place out of reach of animals and children. Here are some tips:
- Store the pot in a sun-drenched place or place a weak fan next to it to grow small, lumpy crystals in less time.
- Store the pot in a cool, shaded place to grow a single large crystal or several smaller ones together. In that case, you can use a Styrofoam board or something to absorb the vibrations. The result will likely be a bunch of crystals put together, but at least some of them will be bigger than the rest.
- Store the pot in the refrigerator, out of the sun, if you have used Epsom salts or other less common alternatives.
Step 10. Wait until the crystals appear
Take a look at the rate at which crystals are appearing on the string from time to time. Epsom and alum salt crystals take a few hours or even two days, while table salt crystals appear after a day or two or even a week. Finally, the products that appear will continue to grow for about 15 days.
When the water cools, it will have a much higher salt content than normal for the temperature. Therefore, the solution will be unstable - and the dissolved salt will leave the liquid and stick to the cord with the smallest of impulses. Furthermore, as the solution evaporates, the salt will become more and more exposed and unstable, which accelerates the formation of crystals (due to the low energy in the place, which facilitates the whole process)
Method 2 of 3: Making a Single Large Crystal
Step 1. Grow a handful of salt crystals
Follow the instructions for the first method in this article, but use only distilled water and salt - no string and pencil. Transfer the mixture to the container and wait a few days to see small crystals form at the bottom.
- Use a large, shallow container, rather than a pot, to form a single crystal.
- This method does not work so well with Epsom salts. Use alum or table salt, or refer to the following section to find other alternatives.
Step 2. Choose "base" crystals
After the crystals form, remove the liquid and study them closely with tweezers. Then choose a "base" crystal that can give rise to larger ones. Here are some examples that fit this description (in descending order of importance):
- Choose an isolated crystal that has no contact with the others.
- Choose a crystal with flat surfaces and no edges.
- Choose a larger crystal (the size of a pea).
- If possible, find and separate multiple crystals as described below. Many of them dissolve or don't grow; so it is better to have reservations.
Step 3. Use a fishing line or a piece of wire or string
Glue or tie this line to one side of the crystal.
Do not use string or wire that is too rough. The material must have a smooth surface so that crystals do not grow on it
Step 4. Prepare a new solution
Use distilled water and the same type of salt. This time, heat the water just a little (until it slightly exceeds room temperature) to make the solution just right. If it doesn't saturate; crystals can dissolve; if you get too saturated, the crystals will become lumpy.
There are several quicker ways to solve the problem, but they are more difficult and require some chemistry knowledge
Step 5. Take the crystal and solution to a clean container
Wash and rinse a pot with distilled water. Then transfer the solution to this container and hang the crystal in the middle of it. Store it as follows:
- Place the pot in a cool, dark place, such as a low cabinet.
- Place the pot on top of a Styrofoam board or other vibration-absorbing material.
- Place a coffee filter, a sheet of paper or a fine cloth in the mouth of the pot to avoid contact with impurities in the air. Do not use an airtight lid.
Step 6. See if the crystals are growing from time to time
The crystal will take longer to grow, as the water has to evaporate a little before the grains attach to the crystal itself. If all goes well, it will retain the same format. Take it out of the liquid whenever you want, but try to wait a few weeks.
- Pass the solution through a coffee filter every two weeks to remove impurities.
- The process is difficult and even those who have experience in the subject make mistakes from time to time. If you have only one perfect "base crystal", try another one that is in worse condition to see if the solution works.
Step 7. Use enamel to preserve the crystal
When the crystal is the right size, take it out of the solution and dry it. Apply a coat of nail polish or foundation on all sides to prevent it from fading over time.
Method 3 of 3: Using A Variety of Methods to Make Crystals
Step 1. Use different substances
You can make crystals with the above techniques using various substances found in markets, drugstores, etc. See some options:
- Borax for making white or colored crystals.
- Copper sulfate to make blue crystals.
- Chrome alum to make purple crystals.
- Copper acetate (monohydrate) to make dark blue-green crystals.
- Heads up: These chemicals are harmful when inhaled, ingested or handled without proper protection. Read the labels to know how to protect yourself and don't let children and animals get close.
Step 2. Make a snowflake
Form a star with several pieces of wire together. Dip it into the solution and watch the salt cover the object until it turns into a kind of snowflake.
Step 3. Make a crystal garden
You can make multiple crystals at once! Prepare the salt solution and transfer it to sponge or briquette pieces in the bottom of the container. Add some vinegar and wait a few hours.
- Add enough to saturate the sponges, but do not submerge them in water.
- Drop a drop of food coloring onto each sponge to make crystals of different colors.