Candy Cane Crystals

There are so many fun Christmas themed crafts for kids to make but how about mixing your crafting with some science too?  These candy cane crystals are EASY to make and look so pretty.  Hand them out as gifts or use as gift toppers or ornaments.

These are the EASIEST crystals you’ll ever make!  And they are pretty sturdy when they are done!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Borax
  • Hot water (Obviously an adult will be needed to do this part)
  • pyrex measuring cup (one that can withstand hot water)
  • measuring spoons
  • pipecleaners
  • string
  • wide mouth glass jar
  • string
  • stick or pencil (we used craft sticks)IMG_4400

Give each superhero a red and white pipecleaner and have them twist the two together to create the alternating red/white pattern.  We had to cut ours in half to make them the right size for our jars.  Bend it into a candy cane shape (or as my middle son said, a “J”).

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Tie a string to the pipe cleaner and then attach to a pencil or craft stick so that the stick can rest on the top of the jar.IMG_4402

Be sure the string is the right length so that the pipe cleaner shape can be fully immersed in the jar’s liquid and will not touch the bottom. As the crystals form, there will be a layer of crystals at the bottom of the jar and you do not want your candy cane to get stuck to it or else it will break when you try to remove it from the jar.

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Make sure you can easily get the pipe cleaner out without bending it since once the crystals form it will be hard, stiff and brittle.

Mix 3 tablespoons of Borax (found in the laundry detergent aisle) with 1 cup of hot water.  Stir until the borax dissolves completely. Each one of our jars held 3 cups of water to completely submerge the pipe cleaners (3 cups water = 9 tablespoons Borax)

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I poured the hot borax mixture into the jars and the superheroes dropped the pipe cleaners into the jars.  (You will need to do this step if you have little ones).  Make sure the pipe cleaner shapes do not touch the sides of the jar or the bottom of the jar. 

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Within a few hours we saw the crystals forming but the next morning the superheroes saw their sparkly candy canes!IMG_4412

We also made a snowflake and twirly icicle with glitter pipe cleaners.

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Take them out carefully from the jars and let them dry.

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The crystals are strong and heavy.  These are such a pretty addition to our tree!

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*Note of Caution: Borax is toxic if ingested and can irritate eyes.  If you have young children or pets who might ingest a broken particle, you might want to think twice about making these.

The Science behind the Activity:

When dissolving the borax in hot water, you are creating a supersaturated solution which means you are using heat to get more borax to dissolve than you would with water at room temperature.  As the water cools, the borax “falls out of solution” and solidifies (recrystallizes) on the pipecleaner and on the bottom of the jar.

To clean the crystals off the bottom of the jar, just add more hot water and redissolve the borax and then you can pour it out easily.

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Read my original post on Borax Crystals and to see where I got my idea from.

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