How to Make Crystals With Borax and Pipe Cleaners

Learn how to make crystals with 2 basic household ingredients!

When it comes to simple science projects for kids, making crystals with borax and pipe cleaners never fails to impress. I’m not kidding, kids and adults alike find the process pretty fascinating.

How to make crystals with borax and pipe cleaners

Borax Crystals

Making borax crystals is such a cool science experiment that we’ve actually done it three times in the past two weeks! Today, we’re crystallizing our initials, which we’ve made using chenille pipe cleaners.

You’ll love how easy this process is to set up! All you need are a few common, household ingredients and supplies, and a little bit of patience. This post includes affiliate links!

Supplies Needed To Make This Borax Crystals Recipe:

supplies used to make crystals with borax and pipe cleaners

How To Make Crystals:

purple O pipecleaner

Prep Your Pipe Cleaners:

Bend your pipe cleaners into whatever shapes you want. You can make snowflakes, random shapes, crystal icicles, or like us, everyone can make their own initial.

How To Make Borax Solution:

To make your solution, dissolve 9 tbsp of Borax in 3 cups of very hot water. We boiled our water in the kettle first, and poured it into a 2 qt bowl with a spout. Then we added our borax and we stirred and we stirred!

You need your solution to be perfectly clear with no visible traces of Borax, so you’ll need to stir for a few minutes.

Start Making Crystals

When your pipe cleaners are bent into shape, tie a length of string to the top of each one.

Now, pour the solution into your jars, and suspend a pipe cleaner in each one. You can do this by tying the loose end of the string to the handle of the spoon (or a craft stick or pencil), and laying it across the top of the jar.

jars with pipe cleaners hanging in them

Make sure the pipe cleaner doesn’t touch bottom or sides of the jar.

Set the jar in a safe place, and leave it for a few hours.

When you check back in, you’ll be amazed to see how quickly the crystals start forming!

The next day, our pipe cleaners were gorgeous! The crystal coating was rock hard! When two initials tap into each other, they make a tinkling sound as if they were made of china.

pipe cleaner initial covered in borax crystals

I love how the original color of the pipe cleaners looks soft and muted underneath the coating of borax crystals.

You Can Re-Use Your Borax Solution!

You’ll likely have lots of crystals that have formed on the sides and bottom of your jar. If you want to do the experiment all over again, just place your jar of left-over solution in the microwave for a minute or two. Stir to dissolve any crystals and yore good to go again!

pipe cleaner in a jar of borax and hot water

Why Do Borax Crystals Form On Pipe Cleaners?

If your kids are curious to know HOW the crystals from on your pipe cleaner, pop over and visit Steve Spangler!  He’ll tell you the “how and why” behind the borax crystal experiment!

No time to watch the video? In short, hot water can hold more molecules (the borax) and the molecules move very fast. However, when the water cools the molecules then slow and begin to settle (on the pipe cleaner.) 

As it cools it begins bonding with other borax and begin forming crystals. Cool, huh?

How Long Does It Take To Grow Borax Crystals?

Borax crystals take a little while to form. It generally takes 12-24 hours for the borax crystals to begin forming. The longer you leave them submerged, the bigger the crystals will grow!

How To Make Colored Crystals At Home?

Want your crystals to be more unique? Add color! It’s easy, all you have to do is add a few drops of your favorite colored food coloring to the water and you’ll have different colored borax crystals.

How to Make Crystals With Borax and Pipe Cleaners

How to Make Crystals With Borax and Pipe Cleaners

Learn how to make crystals with this speedy borax and pipe cleaner experiment. It's simple, but fascinating science for for kids of all ages!

Materials

  • borax
  • very hot water
  • jar
  • spoon
  • chenille pipe cleaners
  • string
  • pencil or craft stick (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bend your pipe cleaners into whatever shapes you want. You can make snowflakes, random shapes, crystal icicles, or like us, everyone can make their own initial.
  2. When your pipe cleaners are bent into shape, tie a length of string to the top of each one.
  3. To make your solution, dissolve 9 tbsp of Borax in 3 cups of very hot water. We boiled our water in the kettle first, and poured it into a 2 qt bowl with a spout. Then we added our borax and we stirred and we stirred!
  4. Now, pour the solution into your jars, and suspend a pipe cleaner in each one. You can do this by tying the loose end of the string to the handle of the spoon (or a craft stick or pencil), and laying it across the top of the jar.
  5. Make sure the pipe cleaner doesn’t touch bottom or sides of the jar.
  6. Set the jar in a safe place, and leave it for a few hours.
  7. When you check back in, you’ll be amazed to see how quickly the crystals start forming! I’m not sure what the actual recommended time is to leave your pipe cleaners in the borax-water, but we let ours sit over-night.

Notes

You need your solution to be perfectly clear with no visible traces of Borax, so you’ll need to stir for a few minutes.

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6 Comments

  1. Great experiment! I think they would make cute ornaments for the christmas tree, can you add color or glitter to the water? Or it may prevent the crystals from forming?

  2. Kristen Yard says:

    You could definitely experiment with it! Different variables will lead to different results.

  3. Would these melt if you make ornaments and they are stored away in the attic?

  4. Kristen Yard says:

    Hi, Jenni! I’m not sure if the attic would be the best storage place (in case it gets too warm up there, etc.). You could always test it with one of them this year, though, and store the others at room temperature…

  5. A very informative article to let kids develop love for science.
    Max

  6. hi I am going to try putting beads in as well homing for smaller crystal formations

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