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Grow your own crystals

You will need:

  • 3 cups of table salt
  • 1 litre of water
  • 1 Pencil, 1 paperclip and string cut to size
  • 1 Strong Plastic or Pyrextm Jar


1. Boil the water with adult help *Be careful*

2. Pour the water into the plastic jar (dont use glass - it could break!) *Be careful*

3. Add the salt teaspoon by teaspoon, allowing the salt dissolve each time.

4. Continue adding salt until you cannot dissolve anymore and it collects at the bottom of the jar

5. Tie one end of the string around the pencil and the other end around the paper clip

6. Dangle the string into the saturated salt solution, so that the paper clip doesn't touch the bottom

7. Allow the jar to sit undisturbed for 1 week. Salt crystals should form at the top of the string.
Salt crystals

Why Does This Happen?

The crystals could only stay dissolved when the water was hot. Cooling the solution down made it super-saturated, which is unstable. You should have found that the water travelled up the string through a process called capillary action, bringing the salt with it. As the water evaporated on the string, salt crystals were left behind.

Find out more about capillary action on the external site USGS Water Science.

The longer it takes to form a crystal, the larger the crystal will be.
Check out the link on crystals formed by volcanos! Indianapolis Childrens Museum

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