Tips For Growing Crystals

Crystal growing experiments are a fun activity for learning about geology.

Crystal growing experiments are a fun way to teach both children and adults how mineral crystals and rocks form over time. In nature, crystals grow in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. While some crystals form over many years, other crystals form more quickly. You can adjust crystal growing experiments to show how crystal growth may occur quickly, but given additional time, the size of the crystals may increase substantially. Does this Spark an idea?

Choose the Crystal Type

Crystal growing experiments work well with if you choose table salt, sugar or Epsom salt for the crystals. These materials will produce beautiful, small crystals within a few minutes to hours and are safe. Larger crystals will grow if you leave the solution sit for a few days.

Create the Perfect Solution

The key to any crystal growing experiment is to create the perfect saturated solution for the type of crystal that you are trying to grow. For table salt, you should heat or boil water first and then transfer it to a clean jar. Stir the table salt into the hot water until it all dissolves. Table salt solutions work well if you use equal amounts of water and salt. You can make your sugar solution on the stove by boiling water in a saucepan and stirring the sugar into the boiling water. Use twice the amount of sugar as water. Epsom salt solution also works best with equal amounts of hot water and Epsom salt; however, you should not boil the water.

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Find Your Crystals a Home

Table salt and sugar crystals grow well on a cotton string suspended in a jar of the solution. You should tie the string to a pencil and place the pencil across the top of the jar so that the string does not touch the sides of the jar. The crystals will form on the string and because there is sufficient room around the string, the salt and sugar will form into perfect crystal shapes. As the crystals grow, they may intertwine as well. You can leave the jar on a counter for several hours to days. The longer the solution sits, the larger the crystals will grow. Epsom salt crystals grow well when you pour the solution into a bowl, and allow it to sit in a refrigerator for a few hours. The cold temperature surrounding the solution will help the crystals form in as little as three hours.

Safe Crystal Growing

Crystal growing involves the handling of hot water, so provide adult supervision to children who are performing the experiments. When you are making the sugar solution, take care not to spill the sugar on the stove burner because it can cause a flame.