Crystal Snowflakes

Crystal Snowflakes

If you catch a falling snowflake on your mitten, you’ll see that it has a beautiful pattern, with six points and a lot of complex detail.

Snowflakes are actually tiny crystals made of ice. Here’s a way you can use the process of crystal formation to make your own “snowflake” at home.

Supplies for making crystal snowflakes

You need:

  • Pipe cleaners
  • Wide mouthed Jar or recycled containers
  • Water
  • Borax
  • Food colouring (optional)
  • String
  • Pencil
  • Old Scissors to trim pipe cleaner
  • Pot to boil water
  • Table spoon
  • Measuring cup
Preparation for crystal snowflakes

1. Twist together some pieces of pipe cleaners to make the shape of a snowflake. Trim to size with an old pair scissors not to damage new ones. Make sure that the snowflake is small enough to fit inside the jar, and remember that a snowflake has six points!
*Recycled plastic containers can be used as well for additional snowflakes, but glass jars allow you to see the crystallization process.

2. Fill the jar with water about an inch above what would cover your snowflake. With a measuring cup measure the water from the jar or container as you pour it into the pot used for boiling.

3. Bring the water to a boil (ask an adult to help you with this part). Once it’s boiling, start stirring in some Borax. Add 3 tablespoons of Borax to 1 measured cup of water or until it stops dissolving. The water will start to look slightly foggy once it becomes too saturated.

Making crystal snowflakes

4. Pour the mixture of water and borax into the jar. (You can also add some food colouring if you want to make snowflakes that are a specific color.) Use a short piece of string to hang the pipe cleaner snowflake from the pencil, and lay the pencil horizontally across the top of the jar, so that the snowflake is suspended in the mixture of water and borax.

5. Now leave your snowflake undisturbed and wait overnight, or for two nights. You will notice the crystallization as the water starts to cool. When you take out the snowflake, it will be covered in little crystals! Lay the snowflakes on paper towels and let it dry for another night.

Crystal Snowflakes

What’s happening?

Like real snowflakes, borax is a crystal – a solid that forms in a specific geometric shape, like a cube, or an octahedron. Diamonds and table salt are crystals too. When these kinds of substances gather together, their molecular properties make them group in a pattern, forming a shape.

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