Borax Crystals


The transformation from pipe cleaners to crystallized art can easily be done in your kitchen.  The kids and I made these last year to give to teachers, aids and our bus driver as Christmas gifts.  But you can make anything you want with your pipe cleaners.

You will need:

Pipe cleaners
Heat-safe container
Food coloring
Pencil, wooden spoon or dowel (depending on the size of your container)

There are a lot of directions out there on the web for making Borax crystals.  Most of those directions called for glass containers and measuring the borax and food coloring.  I didn’t do that.  I used large plastic containers  and excessive amounts of borax and food coloring.20151130_204151_richtonehdr

First I had my children make shapes of their choosing out of pipe cleaners.  The shape doesn’t really matter.  Even a jumbled ball of pipe cleaner turns out pretty amazing.  Our jumbled mess looked like a crystal geo.   While the kids made shapes I boiled water.  Why?  Hot water holds more borax crystals than cold water.  I filled the containers with hot water and poured borax in. When no more of the solution can be dissolved, you have reached saturation.  I then added lots of food coloring to each container.20151212_232054

The kids and I tied string onto the different pipe cleaner shapes.  Then we tied the string to a wooden spoon.  We lowered the dangling shapes into the borax solution and left the wooden spoon resting on the top edges of the container.  As the borax solution cools, the water molecules move closer together again.  The hardest part of this project was the waiting.  The wait time was different depending on how crystalized we wanted each art piece to be.  The smaller wreaths we made sat in the solution for 1 to 2 hours.  The geo shapes and the larger love piece sat for over 24 hours.
20151212_231759Once our pieces were done.  We sealed our pieces with clear and glittered finger nail polish.  The few items we kept have been sitting around the house for over 10 months and still look great.

This was a messy project. I highly recommend a plastic tarp or a disposable plastic table-cloth to protect your table from the mess. I also noticed there was clumps of crystals on the bottom of the containers.  I reheated the solution and added more borax to make more items.  Once we were done I dumped the water and wiggled the plastic container to empty the crystals on the bottom.




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