SPARKLES…kids love them...heck, I love them. This craft project is a simple way to teach kids about how crystals are formed, and when it’s all said and done they end up with a cherished ornament that they can hang where ever they please.
My kids loved this from start to finish. They liked forming the ornaments, placing them just so in the glasses, helping to make the solution, and most especially, they liked checking on the ornaments as the crystals started to form.
Supplies needed for Borax Crystals
- Pipe cleaners
- Yarn, string or twine
- Large mouth glasses or jars
Start by forming the pipe cleaners into the shapes you want your crystal ornaments to be. The ornament needs to be able to fit inside your glass container when hanging without touching the sides or the bottom. If it touches the glass directly it will stick to it when the crystals start to form on the pipe cleaners. If the shapes don’t fit when formed at their original length, it’s ok to cut the pipe cleaner. Some simple shapes to consider are circles, letters, or even spirals made by wrapping the pipe cleaner around a pencil.
Once the shapes are perfected, tie a piece of the yarn to the ornament at the top. Then tie the other end of the yarn to the pencil so that the ornament can hang suspended in the glass when the pencil is placed its top. Lay the pencil on top of each glass so that the ornament is hanging down in the glass. If the ornament touches the bottom of the glass, shorten the yarn.
Borax Crystal Solution
While the kiddos are making the shapes, it’s a good idea to start the solution that the crystal ornaments will be made in. Start by figuring out how much water you will need to make your crystals, and then calculating how much Borax you are going to need. The ratio of Borax to water ratio is 3 tablespoons of Borax to every cup of water. We had 10 glasses we were going to make ornaments in, and it turned out we were going to need we needed 11 cups of water.
11 cups of water x 3 tablespoons of Borax per cup = 33 tablespoons of Borax
Yes. That sounds like a LOT of Borax, but it’s really just over two cups since 16 tablespoons equals one cup.
Ok, now so you know how much Borax and how much water, heat the water in a large pan on the stove. Bring the water almost to a boil and then mix in the Borax until it is dissolved.
Borax Crystal Magic
Now you’re ready to make some beautiful sparkly crystals. Pour the hot solution in to the glasses. After the solution is in, double check each glass to make sure the dangling ornament isn’t touching the side or the bottom of the glass.
AND now you wait….
It doesn’t take long for the crystals to start appearing in the glass. They will start forming on the top of the water, on the sides and bottom of the glass, and then on the pipe cleaners. Within an hour and a half we could see them starting to form on the pipe cleaners and within several hours we deemed the crystals complete.
Once you deem the crystal ornament complete. Pull it out of the solution and set it on a paper plate to dry overnight.
Tips and Tricks
- Try adding some food coloring into the solution, you’ll get colored crystals. This works best with white pipe cleaners.
- Don’t touch the solution while the crystals are forming. The oil of your hands will give the crystals a whitish color that isn’t very sparkly.
- Since crystal size is based on the speed in which the solution cools, experiment by throwing one in the freezer or one in a warm spot in the house.
- The solution will make crystals where ever it goes…this includes the countertop. We put a towel under the glasses to prevent spillage when we poured the solution into the glasses. But, accidents still happen. If you spill some on the counter top or table, just wipe it up quickly with a warm sponge.
Looking for other crafts for your kids? Try one of these:
- If you find an ornament starts sticking to the glass during the crystal forming process, use a utensil to knock it apart from the glass.
- To clean the glass afterwards, just let it soak in hot water for a few minutes. The borax will begin to dissolve and clean-up will be easy.
- Keep in mind that Borax is a chemical, and should not be ingested by little ones. I let my 5 year old measure the Borax, but use your own judgment when it comes to the amount of contact you allow your children to have with the Borax.
Gracie L Sprouse from Virginia on December 13, 2018:
Curious to know how long the crystals remain in tact after forming.
Kathy Hull (author) from Bloomington, Illinois on December 07, 2013:
I'm so glad I could help you with your crystal project. To answer your question, the crystals will form no matter where you keep them. BUT the size of the final crystals is based on the speed of which the borax solution cools. So since this is an experiment, it would be fun for you to try putting one in the freezer and leaving one out on the counter top just to see the differences in how the crystals form.
8th grade student on December 05, 2013:
hi this really helped me on my crystal project... but i still am not sure where i should put my solution and crystal to sit i mean should i put it i the freezer because some articles say i should and some say to keep in a cabinet. does it really matter? if anyone has experience with that please tell:)
Kathy Hull (author) from Bloomington, Illinois on February 05, 2013:
I was also surprised at how fast the crystals formed. I wouldn't have even looked so quickly, but my kids were anxious to see if they had crystals. It really was a great project all the way round. I'm glad you enjoyed...Thanks!
Stephanie Henkel from USA on February 03, 2013:
This looks like a great project to do with kids, and a wonderful bit of science, too! I love the colored crystals! Since I've never done these, I was surprised to learn that the crystals form so quickly.I'm sure that kids get a real kick out of watching them develop. Voted up and shared!
Kathy Hull (author) from Bloomington, Illinois on February 03, 2013:
Thanks much Wonder! We really enjoyed making them.
Priyanka Estambale from United States on February 02, 2013:
Pretty Ornaments and awesome idea!!! Loved it!!