Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

January 12, 2015

Borax Crystals: How to Grow Giant DIY Borax Crystals

How to make DIY borax crystals
Borax CrystalsDIY Borax Crystals
How to grown HUGE borax crystals

"Growing" crystals with borax powder (a mineral) and pipe cleaners is a popular kid's craft and fun science experiment, but Amanda Kingloff made it possible for adults to try growing borax crystals without feeling the least bit sheepish.  I spotted her chic borax crystal tutorial on Etsy and late one night, I found myself in line at a big box supermarket with only pipe cleaners, food colouring, borax, and a carton of almond milk (I had a craving for hot chocolate) in my basket.  Her tutorial for borax crystals is fabulous but, after a little trial and error, I made a few adjustments that helped produce some seriously huge, glittering borax crystals.  Here's how I made giant borax crystals!  If you've made borax crystals before and they turned out small, sparse or wimpy, read on for some borax crystal trouble shooting tips!

Supplies:
  • Powdered Borax
  • Pipe cleaners (white, or the colour of the crystal you want to make - the fuzzier the better)
  • Heat proof glass container (this Corning Pyrex 5 Piece Beaker Assortment Pack would be great because you could make a few at a time, in different sizes)
  • Measuring spoon
  • Scissors
  • Thread (Amanda recommends something thicker, but sewing thread is easy to cut off)
  • Neon food colour pack (Amanda recommends gel, but that link is to what I used)
  • Pencil or food skewer

How to Make Borax Crystals (First Attempt):

First I created a form using pipe cleaners.  Basically I made a loose coil shape, weaving the pipe cleaner in and out to hold the shape steady.  The crystals will grow around it, so I learned not to make it too dense.  I found 2-3 pipe cleaners made a nice, big crystal.  Then I tied a piece of string around the pipe cleaner, long enough for it to be suspended into the borax solution, with enough wiggle room so that the pipe cleaner coil doesn't touch the sides or bottom of the glass.

Supplies for making Borax crystals

Amanda suggests using 9 tablespoons of borax dissolved in 3 cups of water.  As per the instructions, I put the borax into a heat safe container (a large measuring cup).  I boiled water in a pot, to which I added the food colouring.  Then I poured the boiling water over the powder until it dissolved.  I let the pipe cleaner form soak in this solution for five hours - during which time the measuring cup was wrapped in a dish towel.  I followed Amanda's steps to the letter, but ended up with somewhat spotty crystal development:

What to do if your borax crystals don't turn out

They looked like pipe cleaners covered in salt, so I called in the reinforcements.  My Dad, who has a degree in chemistry, helped me grow really huge, densely covered borax crystals.  I felt pretty silly bombing a kid's craft, so I made sure to remind him plenty of times that I have a PhD.  He hauled out a huge Pyrex beaker that we found antiquing in Ottawa, and it was a game-changer.  We were able to boil the water right in the beaker, and re-use our borax from previous crystal growths, so that changed our process a bit.

How to Grow Huge Borax Crystals (Second Attempt):

We filled the beaker with approximately 2-2.5 liters of water.  We brought it to a boil on the stove top and while the beaker remained on the hot element, made a saturated borax solution.  We didn't measure; we just kept adding borax until no more would dissolve.  Then, while the water was still super hot, I dunked in my pipe cleaner form - plunking it in and out of the water to shake off any air bubbles.  Once it was suspended, I covered the top of the beaker with a calendar we had lying around (super technical) and let the pipe cleaner soak in the solution overnight.  The beaker stayed on the element as it cooled and this slow cooling seemed to encourage the development.

Making Borax crystals
Making Borax crystals
Grow huge Borax crystals
Borax crystal troubleshooting

I ended up with some colossal borax crystals!  The best part was, I could easily re-heat the borax solution right in the beaker, re-dissolve any crystallization that had formed on the bottom and sides of the glass, add more borax powder and re-use the solution to make more crystals.  This is why they're almost all blues and greens: I kept re-using the same dye bath, which I tweaked a bit each time.

Borax crystals science experiment
Pale green borax crystals
Craft ides for kids
How to make giant borax crystals

Even once I started using the beaker, I tried a few more using my Pyrex measuring cup and a kettle and found that I could still achieve larger borax crystals, as long as I mixed in so much borax powder that no more would dissolve.  You can even re-heat the borax in the microwave, but borax dissolves better the hotter the water is.

Bottom line: you don't need a fancy beaker to make borax crystals, but if you can pick one up thrifting, it's worth it.

How to make giant borax crystals Grow crystals with borax

Once I got the hang of it, I tried experimenting with the pipe cleaner shapes.  My favorite is this sort of shell-shaped form:

Pipe cleaner crystals

How to Grow Giant Borax Crystals, in a Nut Shell:

I don't mean to suggest that Amanda's method for borax crystals doesn't work - it certainly produced some beautiful crystals for her.  But these are the steps that worked for me:
  1. Bring 2 liters water to boil in a glass, heat proof container/beaker
  2. Add the food colouring
  3. Add enough borax to create a saturated solution
  4. Suspend the pipe cleaner form on a string immediately
  5. Leave the beaker on the element as it cools, the top covered with a magazine or cardboard piece to trap in heat
  6. Let soak overnight (or at least 8 hours), undisturbed
Borax crystals can re-dissolve, so if these get wet - or maybe endure some humid weather - they could de-crystalize.  My Dad suggested coating them with some kind of clear finish if they're going to be handled a lot.

    Crafts all kids will like
    How to grow giant borax crystals

    I moderate blog comments so if you have any borax crystal making questions, I'm still here to help.  I'll see your comment and try my best to reply!  Please take a look at the comments below, first, because you might find your answer already there.  I'd love it if you would tag me on Instagram to show me your gorgeous borax crystals!
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    156 comments

    1. I voted again and the crystals are amazing. I can remember doing this with a class I taught way back when, but we only made really small ones.

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      1. Thanks for voting again! I'm so appreciative!! Was your class totally mesmerized? I was, and I can only imagine how amazing this project must seem in the eyes of little ones.

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      2. Just spray it with whatever you use to seal your crafts

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    2. pretty sure i did this when i was little, but now that i am reminded how beautiful they are i want to do it again!

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      1. I think given my penchant for rocks, it's a good thing I wasn't shown this craft as a kid. I'd have started obsessively making rock after rock after rock. Lol.

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    3. Wow! This is so cool. I don't even know where to find Borax though...does every supermarket have it? And does everyone have beakers in their homes?

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      1. I have found Borax easily. It's with the laundry detergent, usually near a bottom shelf. As I mentioned, you don't need a beaker, but if you can thrift one it helps. But pouring boiling water into a heat proof glass container can work too. Just add tons of borax, and you'll get some biggies!

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    4. Borax boxes are much prettier in Canada than in Texas. You might like ours more because they're teal. But, they're not nearly as cute.

      I'd like to try this tutorial, though. I saw some natural crystals on tiny little stands at an estate sale last weekend. The sale priced them at $45. However, the original stickers on the bottom priced them at $4.50. They were old, so... inflation?

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      1. Wow, that seems pricey! Unless they were something valuable. But estate sale prices seem to be getting nutty.

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    5. I want to do this so badly! Now I just have to hunt down some Borax which seems like it will probably be an epic task... We certainly don't sell it at the supermarket.

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      1. Oh, shucks. I got mine at Walmart, if that helps. My relatives actually use it and they found it at a Canadian Superstore, I think. It's not popular, but I hope you can find some!

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      2. I had to make 2 trips to Walmart. The first time they were actually out of it. I would have assumed they did not carry it if I had not asked a sales person about it.

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      3. Oh no, what a hassle! My Walmart is always out of the basics, like cauliflower, so I'm not surprised they sold out. It's a good products for doing laundry and cleaning!

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    6. Beautiful and amazing. Thanks so much for sharing, and warm greetings from Montreal. :)

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    7. Loving these crystals and would love to give them a go, never having done it before. However, I've just Googled 'Borax' and all that's coming up is 'Borax Substitute', is this the same thing?

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      1. Hmmm, I Googled "Borax" and didn't get the same results. When I Googled "Borax Substitute' some hits came up - it's used in laundry/cleaning applications so there were some articles about what to use instead. There wasn't much of a selection when I went to buy some. I found it with the laundry detergents, bottom shelf - almost didn't spot it - and there was only one brand/kind there. It's a mineral and, as far as I know, while there might be substitutes for its cleaning applications, to grow these crystals you need the real deal. If you head to a big box supermarket, I'm sure you'll find some. My in-laws - who prefer organic/natural products - use it, so you might even find it stocked at a whole foods coop, or other natural/health store.

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      2. Borax isn't sold in UK supermarkets. They tend to only sell borax substitutes around here, if they do sell something like this. You may be able to get hold of some real borax in the UK via small online suppliers, small independent pharmacies or some Boots stores. I got mine this way.

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      3. I'm not sure about the UK but in Australia, borax is sold at a home improvement store (like a hardware store, but bigger and with lumber) in the cleaning aisle. It comes in plastic cylindrical containers, not boxes like in the US and Canada.

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      4. I have never had any problem getting my hands on Borax. I just order it from amazon & that saves me a trip into town which is great since a trip into town takes about 45 minutes just to get there.

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    8. I love these. I've seen tutorials for making snowflakes with kids but i just wasn't that inspired by them- these rock crystals however....
      I used to use borax in my laundry and wished I still had some- it's a natural mineral but there is some concern about toxicity in wildlife (Since this naturally occurring, I expect this is must be a concentration issue- too much where it doesn't belong kinda thing) just didn't want to take any chances now that we are on a septic and whatever we use, literally, ends up in our backyard. I wish I had some leftover to play around with these- I bet my kids would love to make a rainbow's spectrum of crystals.
      Borax should be very easy to find in most grocery stores- our very tiny small town store carries it in the laundry section (20 Mule Team borax has been around for ages). It is also available at most health food stores, too.

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      1. I saw someone dip in synthetic flowers in the same Borax solution and they ended up having this beautiful finish - like they were covered in ice. I think there's lots of neat ideas out there, beyond the snowflakes (which are cute), but I liked the big 'ole hunk of rock myself.

        That's interesting to learn about the toxicity. My in-laws use it and they have a septic. I should ask them about that. We have a septic too and I hear you: I am always concerned about what products I'm using. Someone told me that only bleach products are a concern because they throw off the balance of good bacteria, but you're right about thinking about what leeches into the soil. This is so new to me! I really should do some research. I'd love to know what products you use - I'm trying to stick to all natural stuff but I can't quit a certain brand of laundry detergent, lol. I'm happy to hear you've been able to easily find Borax. Hopefully everyone who wants to try this can find some easily.

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      2. Ya know, it can be hard to keep such discussions from getting preachy- just saying you use a natural product can put some people on the defensive. I usually try not to discuss it all. It's a personal choice and some people don't want to know that their favourite and often really effective product is less than ideal. Also, I am a terrible laundress and what is fine for me just may not live up to others standards. I dont use bleach either but I counter than by never buying white clothes and I use green bleach (which is hydrogen peroxide). I've been make my own laundry soap for awhile (washing soda, baking soda, grated soap and citric acid) and that's when I started reading about people omitting borax from their recipes due to concerns with toxicity. I know borax is suggested to kill ants and roaches and to use caution doing so if you have pets. But I haven't really done any deep research- weighing the overly vigilant advice from those that don't see anything to be concerned about- sound science would be nice. I just play it safe because of the septic. It is a pain in the butt to make your own and I would never fault anyone from using what works for them.

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      3. I have seen a lot of homemade recipes on pinterest and been tempted! I am also not a good laundress, lol. You're right about it being a touchy subject. Sooooo many seemingly mundane choices are. Well, you've definitely motivated me to do some research and maybe reassess some products. I keep meaning to but it keeps slipping off my to-do list. Not because I'm busy, obviously. I had time to make rocks, haha. Testing our well water is another...

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      4. The Borax I purchased is organic/all natural. It only states being used as a laundry booster, bathroom/drain cleaner and that it's an eye irritant and harmful if ingested. But, I actually got mine for growing crystals and making candle wicks specifically.
        If you want an all natural non toxic, effective ant killer get a flat surface like the lining of a mason jar lid, and mix equal parts (1 tbsp) baking soda and powder sugar. The ants can't tell between the two grains and will eat/carry back the mixture. After they ingest it, it caused a chemical reaction that makes them implode and the best part is they don't die in your house and the only ant trail leads right to their doom! haha
        I have some fur-babies and an almost five year old, so I try the non-toxic route. This ant killer is the most effective and so basic, plus the two ingredients are most likely already in your cupboard/pantry! If a person or cat/dog were to accidentally eat some of it, nothing would happen and that's always a plus!

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    9. MUST. DO. THIS! I have never use Borax, not even sure I have seen it in stores here, but I will have to take a look. I want to try and make these in all sorts of shapes!!

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      1. Try the lowest, most out of the way shelf. I had to really crouch down to snag some, lol. If you do these you have to share! I'd love to see them in different shapes.

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      2. Borax, aka 20 Mule Team can be found in any laundry isle, like at Wal-Mart, Tops and so on. My fiance picked me up a big box for just under $5, I made three crystals and still have nearly a full box! I'm making candle wicks with some of it as well.
        The Borax I purchased, besides being an eye irritant, is organic/all natural. Just wanted to mention that because of comments above that mentioned toxicity.

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      3. Happy you could easily find some. I needed some the other day as a laundry booster and this time I headed to a small grocery store and still found some in with the household cleaners - tucked in the corner! It works so well as a cleaner! I'd only bought it to make crystals but not I'm hooked on the stuff as a laundry brightener.

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    10. Love it!! I love the video that Lindsay did too! I bet if you glued a magnet on them, they would make a gorgeous fridge magnet. You could even make a wee knob. Or necklace. Or you could bring them to my house and we could try them in the treehouse. Yeah. That's my fave idea so far :) xo

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      1. Oh, I just love her video - it's so cute and clever!! Waaaay beyond my capabilities, lol. I like all of your ideas, haha, especially the last one.

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    11. Hi Tanya ! I loved your Post ... I need a suggestion please !!! Do you think that I can make Crystal Grow also on a wooden Sphere without using Pipe Cleaners ? Thank you ...

      Marzia .

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      1. I have seen people grow crystals on faux flowers (fabric) and it worked well. It also liked to grab the string I used and crystals even formed on the inside of the glass. I'm not certain if they would grow on a wooden sphere - there might not be enough for them to hold onto. But I haven't tried it so I'm not sure. Sorry I can't be of more help. I say give it a go!

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      2. Paint glue onto the wooden surface, then coat it with borax powder. Then let it dry really well and continue like normal You should be able to achieve the same results... I have done this with Alum (a spice used in canning) in plastic easter eggs and it worked great!

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    12. Hi Tanya ! I loved your Post ... I need to ask you two suggestions :

      1. I am in Spain now and here they don't have Borax at the Supermarket, but I have found a sort of Chemistry Shop with a lot of stuff to do chemical experiments, and I have bought "Dechaidrated Borax" I think is the real active principle ... (Because I have asked them Powder Borax) ! But on the box it is written that it is toxic ! I'm worried, do you think it is normal ?

      2. Do you think that I can Make Grow Crystals on a wooden Sphere without using the Pipe Cleaners ?

      Thank you so much !
      Marzia.



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      1. Hmmm, that is a good question. I think it's "decahydrate"? I did some Googling, and that just means "A hydrate whose solid contains ten molecules of water of crystallization per molecule, or per unit cell." From Wiki: "The term borax is used for a number of closely related minerals or chemical compounds that differ in their crystal water content, but usually refers to the decahydrate."

        What I bought was just powdered Borax. It can also be called sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate.

        I think we've got the same thing.

        I have read and heard that it can be toxic, but only in very high levels. It can also be a skin irritant. I cannot say for certain that what you have would be safe to use. I THINK so but I would hate to put you at risk with my guessing. I would advise that you ask the people who work at the chemistry shop. You can show them my tutorial so they know what you're using it for.

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      2. Also make sure that what the chemist is selling is not boric acid because that is not the same as Borax and boric acid is toxic.

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    13. Its my daughters birthday today, and its always been a tradition to gift her crystals that we hang in the window to catch the sun. I’ wondering is there a certain ingredient that enhances clarity, and also can i use something other than the “fabric” pipe cleaners and yarn? like actual rocks and twigs?

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      1. I'm so sorry for the late reply. I took some time away from blogging for a family emergency.

        That is a beautiful tradition! The borax seemed inclined to grow on the inside of my glass beaker and also on the thread. I've seen people cover fabric flowers with it too. I think it should take nicely to something with some grip to it, like a twig. A rock with a lot of texture could work too. But I cannot say definitively, because I only used the pipe cleaners. If you try these items, I'd love to hear how they work! Good luck! And happy belated birthday to your daughter.

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    14. This may be a stupid question but I am wondering why the container/beaker needs to be made of glass ? Will a metal container not work ?

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      1. That's actually a great question! The borax should not react with stainless steel, but to encourage crystal growth, a smooth surface should be used. Glass
        ordinarily presents a smoother surface. Any imperfection would result in
        crystals growing at that imperfection site - instead of the pipe cleaner.

        Glass has the added bonus of letting you see how the crystals are forming! Also, you can microwave the solution to get it to dissolve again, if you prefer, if you use glass.

        My Dad, who has a degree in chemistry and helped me with this because I am quite terrible at chemistry, ranked the containers as follows (Pyrex being the best):

        Pyrex
        Unknown glass that can withstand boiled water without cracking.
        Stainless Steel
        Aluminum
        Other unknown metal containers.

        But definitely, you can use metal if it's easier or more convenient.

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    15. Do these break easily? I want to make some of these into necklaces for gifts and such but don't want to give them out if they break easily. I love how yours turned out and that you tried different ways.I'm planning on buying the supplies this week because I want some to put on the shelves in my house. OH! & I loved that you mentioned the clear overcoat, I was wondering if that could be an option... glad it is! Just wanted to know about the breaking before I plan on giving them out. Thanks and love your blog!

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      1. Hi Kailee, I wouldn't say they break easy, but the borax does re-dissolve in hot water and even a lot of moisture/humidity can affect them. I wouldn't recommend wearing these. Borax can also be an irritant, so I'd be worried about it touching skin. But for decorating, they're a lot of fun! Not delicate at all for that application (unless you home is super humid or really dry). Happy crafting :)

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      2. Hi, Do you think that if you coat the crystal like in nail polish it would be safer to wear as a necklace?(:

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      3. I think that some kind of clear sealant would make these safer to wear but I really can't speak to how safe it is to have nail polish rubbing up against your skin either. I just have super sensitive skin so I worry about these things. My advice is to make a small crystal, let it dry for a few days, coat it and give it a whirl!

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    16. OMG!!! THIS POST IS AWESOME. i love crystals. gotta try this. i accidently did this project with bleach. i have a jare of beautiful bleach crystals.

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      1. I didn't know you could make crystals with bleach! I'm off to do some Googling :)

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      2. That is so cool!😱😱😱😱

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    17. Making my first batch now. Sexy red ones! I hope they turn out well. Thanks for sharing your chemist's version. :)

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      1. Ooo, red sounds fun! I hope they turned out well, I'd love to see a photo!

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    18. how stable are these? do they need to be sealed to prevent them from disolving due to accidental water contact or breaking down?

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      1. Sealing would be a good idea if they're going to be exposed to water or humidity. They will re-dissolve, so I don't recommend them for jewellery or for kids to play with.

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    19. How long do the last?

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      1. It depends on the climate. They can, technically, redissolve so in a really damp or humid place you might have troubles. But they are quite solid and, at the size I made, not very fragile so if they are just for display they should be good! But if you try them and have troubles, let me know! This kind of craft is new to me.

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    20. What must the temperature be on the stove

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      1. High enough to boil water, so for my stove that was the highest temperature. Once the borax dissolved, I turned off the element but left the Pyrex on the stove so that the borax solution cooled slowly.

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    21. I wonder if I can make jewelry with these crystals?

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      1. Hmmm. I am inclined to caution against that. While they aren't delicate when they're done, they could redissolve again. So if the jewellery got wet or someone perspired a lot you could have trouble. But if you played around with some type of sealant that could mitigate this problem.

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    22. How many pipe cleaners did you use to get the giant ones? Will the crystal be as big as your pipe cleaner form is? or does it expand quite a lot?

      Thanks!

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      1. The crystals will be bigger than the pipe cleaner form because they grow around it. I used about six for the really massive ones, but I varied the sizes a lot as I was experimenting.

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    23. Anyone know if you can recrystalize an already crystallized pipe cleaner? I'm trying to make my shape look more like a rock than a blobby spider web lol

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      1. I did try doing that. It makes some of the borax re-dissolve but then it will re-attach and grow bigger. However, the results were not as consistent as starting fresh with new pipe cleaners. Sometimes it ended up a bit lopsided. If yours is looking too spidery, try making a form that has fewer gaps. Also you can try a larger container and then more borax - you might not have enough borax for the size you're trying to make. It should cover really densely.
        Good luck!! I'm here to help if you have any questions - I'd love to see your finished product. If you're on Instagram, you can tag me (@danslelakehouse) :)

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    24. What if they were painted in a clear nail polish or a fixative spray used for painting? Would they have a lesser chance dissolving and make it less of a skin irritant?

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      1. I'm not sure fixative spray for paintings would be strong enough. Maybe something like a varnish or water proofing sealant? I meant to experiment with this but moved on to other projects. Making the borax crystals is really inexpensive so if you have some kind of clear coat already you could experiment a little. Once you've coated it and that coat has dried completely, wipe the crystal with a damp cloth to see if the water alters it. Whatever kind of sealant you use, perhaps look for one that is water proof? Let me know if you try it!

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    25. Can you use flour , surger, or salt? Please reply.☺

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      1. You can make rock crystals, for sure - it's actually a candy treat for kids calls rock candy:
        http://chemistry.about.com/od/growingcrystals/ht/blsugarcrystal.htm

        Salt also works (although I've never tried it):
        http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Salt-Crystals

        Flour will just turn to paste in water.

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    26. Can these borax crystals be used for jewelry? Such as wire wrapping or maybe drilling holes in them. And are they sturdy, not crumbly?

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      1. They aren't crumbly but they cannot get wet so I would not use them for jewellery.

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    27. Awesome tutorial!!! I had a question though. When I tried to make these before, they didn't grow around the entire pipe cleaner form. I think it was because I didn't add enough Borax. Approximately how much Borax did you use to get the giant crystals?

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      1. Sorry - I missed your comment! I'm not really sure - I just kept adding until no more would dissolve. Your pipe cleaner form might also be too large for your container. See the photos to see how large my container was. Any smaller and your pipe cleaner form should shrink too.

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    28. I'm incredibly late to the party but could you please tell me if I need to use food coloring? I can but it would be a lot easier to do without it

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      1. Sure, you can make them plain white - they will look like salt/sugar crystals. Make sure you keep the pipe cleaner white, or you'll see it's outline because the crystals will be somewhat translucent. But definitely you can skip the coloring!

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    29. Where can I find a Pyrex Beaker? (In Canada)

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      1. Mine is from an antique shop. Try amazon.ca or eBay.ca. You can put a want ad with a photo on Kijiji, that often works for me! But it's not crucial, you can use a giant pot too.

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    30. Do you know if there are any variables we can change in the process of crystallization to have a different crystal outcome. For example in a dark or lit room, cold or hot water, etc.

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      1. Any experimenting I did is chronicled above. You have to use hot water, so that's not a variable that can change. I made some crystals during the day and some over night and didn't notice a difference. Slowing down the cooling process of the beaker seemed to have somewhat of an impact. Honestly, this is a fun project so fiddle around and try it for yourself - you can make mini ones while you're experimenting, if you don't want to waste borax.

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    31. Can't you try changing the solvent. For example Juice, Distilled or Spring water etc

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      1. You're right, I didn't think about that. Not sure if distilled or spring water would make a difference. Juice? Don't know, honestly. You will need to experiment and let us know :)

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    32. Okay, just stumbled upon your site....I am just in awe of every project you have done, plenty of photographs for us visual folks and the projects come out looking top notch. I'm not into the shabby chic look, I like clean lines, modern contemporary with a big to mid century thrown in. I also feel like I can do them also! I also love your art pieces! I'm sure like you have experienced that, when you push your limits of what you think you can do, it becomes addicting and you just keep on pushing and moving forward until eventually, you are putting plumbers and handy-men out of business. Thanks for the inspiration and keep up the amazing work!

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      1. Thanks Erin! I appreciate your comment - and so happy to hear you like a little MCM thrown in :)

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    33. Hi! I want to host a group project of making these over the coming weekend. I'm wondering if I can have multiple pipe cleaners in a jar at one time?

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      1. Yes, you could do multiple ones but you'd need a really large container and smaller crystal pipe cleaner forms. Otherwise you might end up with spotty crystal growth. As well, they might grow together! The Borax crept up the string and sides of my beaker in addition to the pipe cleaner form. I suggest doing them individually, if you can. Remember that it take a long time, too, for crystals to fully grow.
        Have a fun weekend!!

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    34. How did you clean the container? Also, would a regular pot that you use yo cook things in work instead of the beaker?

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      1. I just washed it out with soap and water - the borax dissolves no problem. I would pick up an old pot thrifting and use that instead - don't use one you cook with. I'm sure it's fine if you wash it out but I can't in good conscience recommend it. But yes, you can use a pot instead of a beaker for this project.

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    35. I just wanted to let you know I tagged this blog post as well as your blog itself on my new blog post after my kids and I had made crystals from a youtube video we had watched that used your blog and tagged it. https://wordpress.com/posts/crazyadventuresinmotherhood.wordpress.com if you wanted to check it out. Love all of your DIY stuff! Can't wait to try them!

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    36. I love how the colors of your crystals look so vibrant! Approximately how much food coloring did you add to your 2L of water? I've been growing borax crystals with my daughter for 2 weeks now and they always look so pale no matter how much more food coloring I thought I've added.

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      1. That is a good question but a difficult one to answer because I made a lot of crystals from the same dye bath so I got a little messy with the measuring. You can see in the photos that my dye bath was definitely pretty inky as I dipped in my pipe cleaner form. By the end of the experiment, I had used most of the green and blue dye bottles (so two in total). Different brands might be weaker/stronger too. I say pour in an entire tube or two. You can grow crystals in the same water (just add more borax and boil again) so you don't have to worry about the wasting the dye. I bought mine at WalMart and it was really, really inexpensive.

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    37. if i dont have food coloring can i use acrylic paint?

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      1. I don't know but I think a fabric dye or any kind of liquid dye is best if you don't have food coloring.

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    38. Do you think if we took a crystal, we could soak it again and make it bigger?

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      1. I tried that but the Borax redissolves. You are better to start fresh. If you're not getting them big enough, increase the size of the vessel and then add more borax. I bet your beaker or whatever you're using is to small in relation to the pipe cleaner form you've made.

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    39. Tanya, have you thought about tucking a little light bulb under the dome shapes you made? I've seen Himalayan Rock Salt dome shapes inverted over a little light bulb attached to a wooden base and thought of your crystal creations. This might be a project for my grandson and I to try...

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      1. Hmmmm, I can't think of a reason why that wouldn't work. The heat could cause a reaction with the borax, but I'm not sure what kind. If you try it, let me know how it turns out because I'd love to see! At the very least, you and your grandson will have a ton of fun. Happy crafting :)

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    40. For those looking for borax…if a store carries it, it will most likely be found in the laundry soap section. Thanks for this wonderful idea,Tanya. After I make mine, I'm going to try to water proof them w/ rustoleum's water proofing spray that can even be used to water proof cardboard.

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      1. That's a great idea!! I'd love it if you'd let us know how that works out. Have fun making these :)

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    41. Hi Tanya thanks for this great craft idea. I want to do this with my pre-school students (4 year olds), or at least show them the process. Since I have to keep them safe and the school does not allow us to use small stoves in the classroom... Do you think I can boil the water beforehand and bring it in the classroom right away to start dissolving the borax (so they can see this part of the process)? Would being away from the stove mess up the reaction? Or could I microwave the water and bring it in to start the process? Please let me know what you think. Thanks!

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      1. Hi Laura, microwaving the water or even using a portable water kettle (I'm sure your staff room has one) should work. I've seen other tutorials where borax crystals weren't made on the stove top that just helped me grow them really large. Bring the microwave or kettle to the classroom, because transporting a piping hot jar of borax might end badly (I'm thinking of your safety too). You can always experiment a bit the day before and grow one on your own, just in case. But as long as the water is super duper hot, and the borax can fully dissolve, you should be good! It does take a long time though, so you might want to set it up at the very beginning of the day and reveal the crystal growth at the end of school - or perhaps let it grow overnight?

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      2. Thank you so much for your suggestions and your prompt response Tanya. Have a great week!

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    42. Do you have to use a glass jar

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    43. Tanya what can you seal these with or can you? If using for jewelry pieces I would love to seal them as to make them durable. Thanks

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      1. Hi Cheryl. I don't know that I would recommend these for jewelry. The borax can redissolve if wet and could be a skin irritant. You could try a spray on sealant like Rust-Oleum's never wet (it completely repels water) but I haven't tried it. Some kind of spray on shellac/lacquer should do the trick! But I'm sorry, I never added that step to my own crystals - little kiddos pried them out of my hands and absconded with them before I could!

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    44. Could I hide some kind of prize in the middle for the kids to break open and find.

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      1. They are pretty solid. But that's because the crystal growth is dense. Little pieces might break off, but overall it's sturdy. You could hide a prize inside something else and grow a thin layer of crystals around it...?

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    45. I am going to have to try this during the weekend. I have been curious mostly how long they last because I want to combine them with already baked clay sculptures I will make. I have some ideas for sealants I could use but the one I am most excited to try out is giving them a brushing of clear epoxy resin for a few coats. Just another excuse to don my mad scientist's jacket. :p

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    46. Can you tell me how to do this but have a hole in it to make jump ring to be able to go through it? And is this so fragile that it will break easily??

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      1. I'm not sure how to inset a jump ring. Maybe insert a straw into the pipe cleaner so the crystals around it to leave an opening? I DO NOT recommend this for jewelry purposes as it can be a skin irritant and cannot get wet (in the rain, washing hands, etc)

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    47. Do you have to use a glass container? In other words, could I just use a metal pot?

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    48. I just tried making a second crystal in the same glass coffee pot I used for the first one and it exploded! It was scary and made a total mess! But now I'm curious as to how am I suppose to remove the crystals that have built up inside the vessel, I still have another coffee pot and a pyrex measuring cup that have a lot of crystals built up on the bottom and sides.?

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      1. Hi Vanessa, oh wow, that's scary! It was likely a weakness in the glass. Was it Pyrex glass?

        To remove crystals, just warm up some water in it. The crystals are water soluble and will dissolve again. I found that even soaking my glassware in hot, hot tap water dissolved a lot of the built up crystals but heating it on the stove or microwave will certainly get rid of them. Make sure you use glass rated for stove top use if you're going that route.

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      2. This is unfortunately exactly how I exploded my Pyrex Beaker! I had made my first crystal and went to make another, putting it on low heat, and the crystalized borax exploded in response!

        The crystals when applied to direct heat explode in reaction so you have to be super careful about it. It would probably be much safer to poor warm to hot water in to melt them.

        Basically, if you have crystals on the bottom of your container, don't put them directly on the heat! Melt them from the inside or else you risk broken glass everywhere haha

        A great example though is putting one of the tiny broken off pieces of crystals in a hot pan and seeing how it jumps and sizzles, great learning experience!

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    49. I would like to use this as a vbs craft~ what other type of container will work and can you put multiple pipe cleaners in the same container?

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      1. Anything you can boil or heat water to a high temperature in (eg. Metal pot) and yes, but they might grow together...

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      2. We did this as a VBS craft this year. each kid had a solo type cup that we poured water into. We just used sink water (which got hot enough to scald) in a pitcher and added borax until no more would dissolve. We could fill about 5 cups with a standard size pitcher and one box of borax was enough for about 35 cups. ours were not this impressive but they turned out quite well. Just make sure they don't touch each other or the sides/bottom of the cup.

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    50. My crystals came out really good the first try. I than did the second step dissolving the first batch, that was not a good idea I boiled the water when I put back my crystal rock it melted....so sad. I had to start all over. My end product AWESOME!!!! I made a really big rock thanks to your directions. You rock lol.

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      1. Lol.
        Yes, the borax crystals will dissolve in water so you can't add more to one. Happy it turned out giant in the end though!

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    51. I got decahydrated borax but it didnt work. I waited for a couple of days but nothing happened. I now tried the same thing with salt and I am waiting.

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      1. I'm not sure how to help with troubleshooting. My only thought is the water wasn't hot enough or there wasn't enough borax. Did any crystals form?

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    52. This looks awesome. Will be my first time ever doing this....wondering how long do these last and how fragile are they.

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      1. They are pretty study. They will redissolve, though, and humidity can affect them which is why I don't recommend for jewelry making purposes. But they won't crumble in your hands, that's for sure!

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    53. When you say pour lots n lots til saturated im not sure what you mean are we talking 4 to 5 cups, half a box??

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      1. I mixed in more, until no more would dissolve. Then I knew it was enough. I used a whole box to make about 15 or so? But I'd re-dissolve and just add more to each bunch. So it's so hard to say how much fir that first one. What's really important is that you put so much, that no more will dissolve. Start with a cup and go from there. It works best if you focus less on the specific measurements, and more on the solution itself. Sorry that's so vague! But it works, I promise :)

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    54. Our crystals are sitting overnight as I type - green. I used about 8 cups of Borax in 2L of water. It still didn't look "supersaturated" to me. ie. the crystals still seemed to be dissolving but I decided it was enough Borax. The crystals have already started forming!
      We used a metal pot. Aluminum I think.

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      1. I'm so sorry - your comment was caught by the spam filter and I just saw it! I'm so excited your crystals worked! Did they turn out huge???

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    55. You can make crystals with epsom salts as well but I'm not sure of their sustainability. How do you dispose of the left over water when you've made all the crystals that you want?

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      1. Interesting!
        I just poured my leftover solution down the drain. People use Borax for laundry, so I figured it's not a problem disposing of it that way.

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    56. I really want to try this on a book. I saw an art piece that was gorgeous! But no tutorial. Your blog has great reviews on growing get the crystals, any tips on how you would go about it?

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      1. Hmmmm, that's a good question. The crystals will form to any surface which has some grip - they even creep up the jar. But would a book turn weird when it's soaked in water?? Could you form the crystals on something else, break them off and glue them on to the book? I think affixing these crystals would be your best bet because anything you grown the crystals on needs to be submerged for 8 hours.

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    57. Great post. Curious if you could pass along a question to your dad... unless you know of course! This question was spurned by a few of your observations:
      1. Saturating the water with borax gave you bigger crystals because the water was holding more borax and thus had more to give to the crystal making process.
      2. slowly cooling the water is better as it gives the crystals more time to develop. I have also read that you get more perfectly forming crystals because the crystals have more time to arrange themselves.

      So... with that in mind, I began thinking how you could SUPER-saturate the water even more. We all know that water molecules get further apart from one another when they are heated which is why temperature effects water solubility. What would happen if you used an Autoclave / Pressure cooker instead of just a pot/beaker on the stove? Boil the water, saturate it, then over saturate it, pour the solution into the autoclave with the unabsorbed extra borax and superheat the water. would it absorb even more borax?

      I would have tried this but I don't have an autoclave or pressure cooker and am dubious that it would make an appreciable difference. What does dad think?!?!?!?

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      1. I was worried about giving potential dangerous advice, so I definitely defaulted to the guy with the chemistry degree here! Here's my Dad's reply:

        Larger crystals come from a lot more saturated solution, and slower growing. The water should come down in temperature slowly.

        A super saturated solution at the elevated temperature would only promote faster crystal growth.

        The autoclave increase pressure and therefore drives up the BP of the solution. A lot of bother, and danger for a mild increase in potential growth. Hard to control a steady decline in temperature and pressure.

        Slow and steady wins the crystal growth race.

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    58. Any suggestions on how to get the borax crystals off? I soaked my pipecleaners in one of my good containers and didn't even think about the fact that my container would be coated in a layer of crystal.

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      1. It's easy - just heat up the water again until the borax dissolves. It will redissolve easily and then you'll have a liquid again which you can dispose of.

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    59. What did you use to varnish the borax crystal....... Would clear nail polish work

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      1. I never varnished them myself but I imagine clear nail polish would work. Make a little mini one and try it out :)

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    60. Hi, I just dropped by to say thank you! Our 6 year old son dropped and broke a crystal someone had given him. He was heart broken. The next evening upon googling diy crystals I ran across this awesome step by step instructional. He was so thrilled that we made several in different colors and shapes. We have shared this with many of our friends and they are having a blast at it as well! We are in southern illinois and again, thank you!

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      1. Awwww, thank you so much for your comment! You really made my day!! I'm happy so I could help make your son smile :) You can tell him I totally understand: my Mom bought me a gorgeous green malachite rock for my mantle rock collection and one day when I was cleaning I dropped it and not only did it smash into pieces, it crashed into a glass box below which had my childhood rock collection in it. I was heartbroken too - it happens to adults as well! So glad he can make his own now!

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    61. I did the progect yesterday and opened it today and it was a MAJOR letdown do you know what i did wrong

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      1. Oh no! Can you tell me a little more? What does it look like?

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    62. Do you have to use food coloring?

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      1. Nope, you can leave them white or try another kind of coloring agent, like Rit Dye. I just like food coloring because it didn't stain my counters like dye can.

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      2. Thank you Tanya!

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    63. Can you substitute the borax for Alum or Epsom Salt?

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      1. There are some other tutorials out there for using Alum, I'm afraid I've never experimented with it.

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    64. We're in the process of making Christmas ornaments. It's looking good so far, but I'd love to do some kind of clear coat finish. Has anyone tried any of the ones suggested in the comments? I am tempted to do the nail polish, since that's pretty easy for little hands to use, I think, but it's pretty noxious for little noses, too, so I'm interested in other suggestions. Tia!

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      1. There are some better nail polishes out there with fewer chemicals. Zoya is a good brand. Could be a way to experiment with a nail polish fixative that's easier on little noses. Let us know what you try!

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    65. besides pipe cleaner, is there any other i can use?

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      1. Yes! This will stick to other materials, the pipe cleaner is just nice and textured, offering a good adhesion. But the borax wanted to climb up the sides of my Pyrex glass. I've seen people dunk in fabric flowers and the borax clung to them. Try experimenting and pick things with some texture that can be soaked in water with no problem.

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    66. Hi All!

      So I've been making these crystals as ornaments for Christmas. I'm about one week in, making 3-6 per day.

      I have found a perfect method which I can articulate later - but my biggest concern is FADING! After about 3 days on my kitchen counter, my crystals fade from the saturated blues, reds and pinks to cloudy versions of themselves.

      Can anyone provide insight? I'm running out of time to start a new project as my ornament party is in 17 days!

      Thanks!

      Rachel

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      1. Hi Rachel, what a fun idea! Mine didn't fade so I don't know if I can help. Are you using food coloring? Maybe try concentrated dye instead?

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      2. Hi Rachel, what a fun idea! Mine didn't fade so I don't know if I can help. Are you using food coloring? Maybe try concentrated dye instead?

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    67. This is amazing. I really want to do this with my elementary school Chemistry Lab kids. We only have class every Tuesday, however, so I was wondering what would happen if we left them to set and then didn't get back to them until a week later. Would it simply form crystals until there was no longer any borax to crystalize, or would it completely ruin the project because of the long sitting time?

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