How To Grow Borax Crystals Fast For Kids Science Experiment
Did you know that you can grow your own crystals at home using borax? It’s a super easy science experiment that kids of all ages can try with the assistance of an adult.
You can use a variety of different materials as a base for growing your borax crystals, but today we’re using colorful pipe cleaners. I think crystals are so beautiful and mesmerizing and to be able to make them at home isn’t just fun for kids, it’s also fun for adults!
Did you ever make crystals as a kid using a crystal making kit? I did. I remember that they took forever to grow! It’s hard to be patient as a kid when you want the process to happen as quickly as possible. Luckily, growing homemade crystals with borax is much faster! In fact, you can create beautiful crystals overnight.
The first step is to grab the printable science worksheet for your kids to use while you’re creating this experiment. It’s available in my freebies library. If you don’t already have access, you can sign up below.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO GROW BORAX CRYSTALS?
Borax crystals are super easy to make at home. The best way to create them is to use a heat-safe container, boiling hot water from a kettle and borax. The less crystals you make in each container, the bigger your crystals will be. That means if you want to create a really big crystal, you should use a bigger base material (maybe 3-4 pipe cleaners instead of just one) and only place that one in a big container to grow.
For my experiment I chose to make a bunch of crystals in one container. Next time we do it, we’ll probably try doing single ones in separate containers to see the difference it makes.
Most of the materials you need to make borax crystals at home are already in your home. If you don’t have any borax, you can usually find that in the laundry detergent section of your grocery store (It’s pretty inexpensive). I’ve used my amazon affiliate links below to share the products I used.
SUPPLIES NEEDED TO CREATE BORAX CRYSTALS:
HOW TO MAKE BORAX CRYSTALS STEP BY STEP:
Take your pipe cleaner and bend it into a shape that you want your crystals to grow on. We played with a few tightly wound shapes and my daughter created some looser ones as well. We also used a variety of colors. This is much easier than using food coloring to dye the crystals and I think the end result is really pretty.
Now, tie each piece of pipe cleaner to a wooden skewer using string. I used a thicker cotton twine which, to be honest, I wouldn’t recommend. If you have thread, use that instead. The crystals ended up growing on my white twine and it was a struggle to cut the strong off afterward. They won’t grow on the thread as easily because it’s much thinner.
Each pipe cleaner should be suspended in the glass container so that they aren’t touching the glass, or eachother. This will prevent the crystals from breaking or sticking together once they grow.
Now it’s time to make the borax solution for the crystals to grow in: First, boil a pot of water in a kettle. Then pour that into a heat safe container. I used about 3 cups of boiling water, but this will vary depending on the size of your container. Now, pour the borax into the water and stir continuously until it is saturated enough so that a bit is sinking to the bottom.
Now pour this solution into the glass container with suspended pipe cleaners. You can shift the skewers around at this point so that nothing is touching.
Place the experiment somewhere that it won’t get knocked over. Now it’s time to let the crystals grow!
We left our crystals to grow overnight and took them out the next day. You could also wait two days to see if they grow any bigger!
When you’re ready to finish the science experiment, take the crystals out and place them on a few paper towels. Let them dry completely. Then snip off the string using your scissors.
That’s it! The borax crystals are done! The end result is a bunch of pretty crystals that your kids can touch and explore. Get them to examine them closely. What do the feel like now? What did the pipe cleaners feel like before? What shape are the crystals? Are there lots of mini crystals or one big crystal? What do they sound like when you clang two crystals together?
WHAT IS THE SCIENCE BEHIND BORAX CRYSTALS?
Homemade borax crystals is a great example for kids to learn about crystals in general. The borax crystals are made because hot water holds more crystals than cold water. When water is hot, its molecules will move farther apart, making space for the borax crystals to dissolve. The goal with this experiment is to achieve saturation so that no more of the borax solution can be dissolved in the water.
But as the solution begins to cool, the molecules of the water will start to move closer together again. This means that the solution can no longer hold onto the borax in the same way. That’s how the crystals begin to form. The crystals will have to go somewhere, and they begin to build on top of one another as the water cools and evaporates.
Crystals are always symmetrical, cube-shaped with flat sides and a repeating pattern. Some other examples of other crystals that we see every day are salt, sugar, and Epsom salt.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE BORAX CRYSTALS TO GROW?
Borax crystals will typically grow best when they can sit overnight for at least one night. But you can wait 2 or 3 nights to see if they grow any bigger. They grow much faster than many crystal growing kits available out there. Plus they’re much more inexpensive to make! These are a great science experiment for kids to do for school science fairs.
WHAT WILL BORAX CRYSTALS STICK TO?
Borax crystals can be made with a variety of materials as the base. But using pipe cleaners is pretty common because you can bend them into any shape you want. This is great because you can try to replicate the natural shapes of crystals, or you can create fun shapes like stars, hearts and snowflakes. They would make beautiful Christmas ornaments!
You can also use things like pom poms, dried or fresh flowers, seashells, plant leaves, and more. It would be fun to experiment with a variety of materials for this project.
Note: Borax will also stick to anything in the solution, including the string and the container itself. This is why the pipe cleaners should be suspended so that they’re not touching the glass and each other. Also, it will work better if you use thread versus cotton string like I did. When we were done, there were crystals growing on the sides of the container as well, but they were pretty easy to clean off.
DO BORAX CRYSTALS MELT?
These crystals are pretty sturdy and I don’t think they’ll melt unless you put them back in a pot of boiling water. I’m not too sure though. I also had a hard time finding information on this online. So I don’t have the perfect answer for you. But, we’ve had them stored in a jar in a cool place for over two weeks in our house and they still look exactly the same.
HOW DO YOU PRESERVE BORAX CRYSTALS?
Here’s how to preserve your borax crystals so that they don’t break down over time: Once your crystals have dried completely, you can spray them with a coat of clear acrylic spray made to preserve metal and wood. This is an optional step though. We didn’t do this.
IS BORAX SAFE?
There’s a lot of confusing information out there regarding borax and whether or not it’s safe to use in kids projects like growing crystals and making your own slime. The truth is, borax is a natural mineral that is used commonly as a cleaning product to clean, disinfect, and fight mold and mildew. Many DIY eco-friendly cleaning recipes use borax as an ingredient. And it was very popular to use at home before 2000. But Health Canada’s science-based screening assessment recommends minimizing exposure, according to the Suzuki foundation.
I found a great article from Wellness Mama to be incredibly useful. It provides extensive information regarding the safety of borax. If you decide to use it in homemade slime, for example, it’s a great article to learn more about the mineral first. Basically she concludes that she “still considers borax safe for use in natural cleaning, but absolutely do your own research and make sure you are using appropriately in any capacity.” It is generally referred to as safe, but also recommended that you avoid eye contact, ingestion, or prolonged skin contact.
I totally agree and believe it should be monitored by adults at all times. I store the stuff on the top shelf in my closet along with any other cleaners that could potentially harm my daughter.
Borax is a common ingredient in making homemade slime, which is something I made recently here on the blog. I chose not to use borax, and made a borax-free slime recipe because my daughter is still young. Slime is meant to be played with and I don’t want her ingesting the slime or accidentally rubbing her eyes with it, even if it only contains a small amount of borax.
I think the bottom line is to go with your gut as a mom. Do your own research and decide where you stand on the subject. I’ve chosen to use it minimally in some simple science experiments, like homemade borax crystals as long as I’m monitoring it carefully. I also don’t let my daughter play with the borax crystals. If she wants to look at them, she has to ask me and I we look at them together. But she’s only three years old so that’s just common sense for most things at this age.
This borax crystal science experiment is a great project for kids to learn how to make homemade crystals. It only requires a few simple materials for your crystals to grow at home, most of which you already have. All you need are some pipe cleaners, hot water, thread and borax to create beautiful colored crystals that your kids will love.
I hope you enjoyed learning about how to make your own crystals. If you make these, please tag me @madebyandi on instagram. I love seeing your creations!