Science Meets Glam

Learn to grow your own crystals using this quick and easy method. After just a few hours, you can have cups and cups of beautiful crystals. This is a perfect experiment for even the littlest of budding scientists.

How to make crystals

Crystals are all around us and come in many shapes, sizes and forms: amethysts, diamonds, salt, sugar and snow, for example. They are fascinating and beautiful to look at. Wow your kids by teaching them how to grow their very own cup of crystals using this quick technique. These salt crystals are easy to grow and safe to handle, and they form quickly.

Supplies:

  • Epsom salt
  • Hot water
  • Spoon
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Glass cup or bowl

Directions:

  1. Heat 1/2 cup of water until nearly boiling. Carefully pour it into a glass dish.
  2. Quickly — and before the water has a chance to cool — mix in 1/2 cup of Epsom salt and stir for 1-2 minutes. You may have some undissolved crystals in the bottom of the dish. Add 1-2 drops of food coloring, if desired.
  3. Place the bowl in the refrigerator.
  4. Check on your mixture in a few hours to see whether crystals have formed. You may need to pour liquid off the top of the crystals to see them.

What's happening?

When you add Epsom salt to the hot water and stir, the Epsom salt dissolves, creating a concentrated solution. The hotter the temperature of the water, the greater the amount of Epsom salt that will dissolve. When the water starts to cool, there is less room for the salt in the cooled water, and that causes the crystal growth. As the solution cools, the salt atoms rejoin to form a crystalline structure.

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Comments

Comments on "Grow your own crystals"

Garth Bock February 25, 2014 | 11:02 AM

Safe one is to boil water and add sugar to it (dont remember the proportions). Let cool, pour into a jar, hang a string into the jar and wait. Not only growing sugar crystal but but making rock candy. Same thing can be done with table salt.

robin February 20, 2014 | 12:59 AM

Gosh, maybe there's a way to write comments without bitterness, anger or upset. Zimminger, is copper sulfate as safe to use with children as Epson salts? Epson salts are available inexpensively in grocery stores and drugstores -- where is copper sulfate sold? Is it expensive? While the results may be better, perhaps Epson salts might be better as a starting process (since you concede that "making a really nice crystal takes a bit more work and time) for children (here, the "littlest of budding scientists") and those who are truly fascinated can proceed to copper sulfate?

Candy Copeland February 16, 2014 | 10:43 PM

Well Zimminger, why not share your recipe and instructions then. Don't tease us with "I have a better way" and not share so we can be the judge .

Zimminger February 15, 2014 | 10:58 PM

Anyone can grow fuzz and color it with dye. Making a really nice crystal takes a bit more work and time. I like copper sulfate. It's readily available and makes a lovely crystal. You have to turn it and not subject it to large temperature and humidity swings, but the result is worth it.

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