They come in many shapes and colours, but usually have flat faces and sharp corners. And they are beautiful.
They are crystals!
- A pipe cleaner
- A string
- A pencil
- Boiling water
- Food colouring (optional)
- Wide mouth jar
Now make the crystal:
- Twist and bend the pipe cleaner to your desirable shape. Here are the instructions to make a snow flake:
- Cut the pipe cleaner into 3 parts.
- Twist in the middle, and spread evenly.
- Tie a string between the arms.
- Mix the Borax in boiling water in the jar (3 tbsp Borax in 1 cup water).
- Add food colouring (optional).
- Hang the pipe cleaner from the pencil and soak in the jar.
- Wait for it to cool, without disturbing (usually over night)
What is it that you see:
A crystal is a common form of solids and is made up of a repeating basic structure in all three dimensions. Crystals come in a variety of shapes and sizes, like diamonds, sea salt and sugar.
When crystals are dissolved in water, we get a solution. Each solution has a maximum amount of solid which can be dissolved in the water. Once the maximum amount has been dissolved, the solution is said to be saturated. Any additional amount of solid will not dissolve, and will remain as crystals.
Saturation is temperature dependent, and usually the greater the temperature, the greater the amount of material which can be dissolved in the water.
In this experiment, we mixed excess amount of Borax in boiling water to create a saturated solution at a temperature greater than the room temperature. Boiling water can hold much more solid in solution compared to the room temperature water. Therefore, once the solution cools down to room temperature, the excess amount of solid will “fall out” of the solution in the form of crystals, which prefer to grow on surfaces, like the surface of the pipe cleaner we placed in the solution.
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