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SOS Classroom

Grades K-2 Chemistry: Growing Crystals

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You’ll need:

  • Box of Epsom Salts, usually found at a pharmacy
  • Colorful pipe cleaners
  • Straight-sided, container that can hold about 2 cups liquid
  • Old pencil or stick long enough to go over the container

While stirring a cup of boiling water, slowly pour in Epsom Salts, adding about 1/4 cup at a time. It will hold quite a lot. As soon as the solution won’t turn clear with stirring, it is time to stop.

Take one or two pretty, colorful pipe cleaners. Bend it into some holiday shape at one end, leaving the other for a “hanger.” Hang it over a pencil suspended over a STRAIGHT SIDED container, or you won’t be able to get your crystal out. (I learned this one the hard way, obviously.) Pour the Epsom Salt solution over the pipe cleaner in the container. Set it in the warmest room in your home where it won’t be disturbed.

In about 3 weeks, the water will have evaporated, leaving long, lovely crystals behind on the pipe cleaner, just in time to hang up as an ornament.

Don’t try to save for next year: this is very fragile, and moisture in the air will dissolve it over time.

Note the sizes and shape of the crystals. The shape is similar to the shape of the molecule of the salt. Computer chips are made from slices (wafers) of huge silicon crystals.