These borax crystals are SO COOL and beautiful! Use pipe cleaners and a simple borax and water solution to grow your own crystal gems. This is such a pretty and fun science experiment!
Making borax crystals is such a cool science experiment. It takes a bit of patience to let the crystals grow, but the results are amazing!
Borax crystals are a great chemistry experiment showing the recrystallization process. Kids can see how molecules react to different temperatures, and literally see changes in matter as the crystals form.
Try growing your own borax crystals in whatever shape or colour you like! These crystal gems are perfect for decoration or for placing in a treasure chest.
Check out our Borax Crystals video tutorial:
*Note: Scroll down for the step-by-step photo tutorial.
Looking for more fun experiments? Here’s some of our favourites:
Here’s what you’ll need:
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The full printable instructions are at the end of this post, but here’s a list of products on Amazon that are similar to the supplies we used:
What is borax?
Borax is a naturally occurring compound made from boron, sodium, and oxygen. Borax is also known as sodium borate or sodium tetraborate.
The borax we buy is the natural element, ground down into powder. Most people use borax as a “laundry booster” or as a household cleaner.
Where can I buy borax?
You can find borax with the laundry detergent in Walmart or any larger grocery store. Hardware or home improvement stores also sell it in their cleaning supply aisle. Borax is also sold on Amazon.
How do crystals form in borax?
Borax is a soft crystal mineral that is soluble, meaning that it can be dissolved in liquid (especially water). With this experiment we are dissolving as much borax as possible in the hot water, creating a “supersaturated solution”.
Cold water doesn’t hold as much borax as hot water. So as the supersaturated borax and water solution cools down, the borax separates from the water and forms crystals on whatever is placed in the solution.
How do I make the crystals coloured?
Your borax crystals will technically be clear or translucent. But the crystals will look like they’re the same colour as the pipe cleaner they’re growing on. So if you use a purple pipe cleaner, your borax crystal will look purple.
You can add food colouring to your borax solution to make the colour stronger, but we find that it really isn’t necessary since the pipe cleaner colours are already so bright.
Why didn’t my borax crystals grow properly?
If your crystals look a little “spotty” on the pipe cleaner or if you don’t have a lot of coverage, it means you didn’t dissolve enough borax into the water solution.
We used less borax in our water mixture when we made our borax crystal star ornaments. They still worked wonderfully, but you could see fuzzy pipe cleaners in some places. To make the larger crystals you see in this post we needed a higher concentration of borax to completely cover the pipe cleaners – the full recipe is below.
If you make shapes with more than 3 pipe cleaners try dissolving even more borax than the recipe asks for into your water solution.
Can I make borax crystals without pipe cleaners?
You can make borax crystals with anything dense enough to sink in the borax solution. You also want to use an item that has enough texture for the crystals to grow on.
Try making borax crystals with different objects! You can use artificial flowers, pine cones, egg shells, or anything that will keep its shape and texture in hot water.
How to Make Borax Crystals
- 8 inches of thread (white or clear preferred)
- Mason jar (16 ounce)
- Measuring cup (2 cup)
Step 1: Shape your crystal
- Bend 2 to 3 pipe cleaners around each other to form your crystal's shape.
- Choose whatever shape you'd like for your crystal! Make sure there aren't any gaps or holes between the pipe cleaners.
- Cut an 8 inch piece of thread.
- Tie the thread onto one of the pipe cleaners.
- Tie the other end of thread to a popsicle stick. Suspend the pipe cleaners in the mason jar, testing to make sure they don't touch the bottom or sides of the jar.
Step 2: Prepare borax solution
- Pour 3/4 cup of borax into 2 cups of boiling water.
- Stir the borax and water together until the borax is fully dissolved. If the borax isn't dissolving, microwave the jar for 30 seconds at a time until it's dissolved.
- Pour the borax solution into the empty mason jar.
- Drop in your pipe cleaners, resting the popsicle stick on the mouth of the jar.
Step 3: Wait for the crystals to form
- Let the pipe cleaners sit in the borax solution for 8 to 24 hours. Watch the crystals grow!
- Lift up the popsicle stick to remove the crystal from the borax solution. Cut off the thread as close to the crystal as possible. Set the crystal on a paper towel to dry.
- Your borax crystal is complete!
If you want to preserve your borax crystal you can spray it with a clear acrylic spray. You can find this at any craft store, hardware store, or on Amazon.
The clear acrylic spray will give the crystal a protective gloss finish that is moisture resistant. We haven’t tried this with our crystals, but it’s what others have recommended online.
Learning how to make borax crystals is such a fun science activity! Try experimenting with different shapes and objects in the borax solution. You can even make Crystal Star Ornaments!
Here’s even more fun science experiments:
Our book Low-Mess Crafts for Kids is loaded with 72 fun and simple craft ideas for kids! The projects are fun, easy and most importantly low-mess, so the clean up is simple!