Day 3 and Pipe Cleaner Crystal Decorations 9

We have seen Borax decoration all over the internet and wanted to try them, but with Borax banned in the UK, we had to use a borax substitute to make our pipe cleaner cystal decorations.  These are super easy to make and the kids can manipulate the pipe cleaners all by themselves.

Now, these Pipe Cleaner Crystal Decorations are a blast from my past, something that I remember doing at my Playgroup before I started school, but you can not get Borax now, so need to use Borax substitute (I got mine from the chemist).

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  • Pipe cleaners
  • Borax alternative
  • Water
  • Food colouring

How to Make Pipe Cleaner Crystal Decorations

Start by shaping some decorations out of the pipe cleaners.  We did snowflakes, hearts, trees and spirals (wrapped around pencils).

Then mix your borax solution with boiling water and add food colouring of your choice.  I used about 6 tablespoons to approximately one pint, but I just poured it in (I am not an exact type of person).

Once all the borax substitute is dissolved submerge your pipe cleaners and leave overnight. The next morning remove and allow to dry and then you will have sparking, crystallised decorations.

Bora substitute pipecleaner decorations

The Science Part

Crystals are solids that are formed by a regular, repeating pattern of molecules connected together. Most crystals come in geometric shapes with sharp, straight edges and smooth sides.

Crystals can form when a supersaturated liquid that contains a dissolved mineral cools. In this activity, a supersaturated solution was made using hot water and a borax alternative (a soft crystal). The hot water caused the water molecules to move further away from each other so that more of the borax could dissolve into the solution. Once the solution reaches a point where it cannot dissolve any more borax, it becomes supersaturated. As the solution cools, the water molecules come closer together again causing the forming borax crystals to cling to the pipe cleaner.