Grow a Crystal Garden
By Lee Hill-Nelson
Do you enjoy gardens and watching things grow? You’ve probably seen vegetable gardens, flower gardens, and rock gardens. Did you ever see a crystal garden?
In any season of the year, you can grow a crystal garden and watch crystals grow indoors, as liquids and dry materials react to each other.
Here is how to do it. Be sure to get your parents’ permission and ask them to supervise while you work.
3 or 4 pieces of charcoal (the kind we use in a grill)
or porous brick
or porous tile
or a sponge, (a cut-up kitchen sponge works well).
(I prefer charcoal.)
4 Tablespoons of salt
4 Tablespoons of baking soda
4 Tablespoons of water
4 Tablespoons of bluing. (Bluing is found on the grocery store shelf with washing machine soaps. We use it to whiten laundry.)
Wear old clothes or a plastic apron, because bluing stains. (Sometimes you can wash it out of the material, but it’s better not to take a chance.)
Step 1:. In a dish (plastic is okay), spread pieces of charcoal (or one of the other materials if you choose to use them.)
Step 2: Mix water and bluing in a dish.
Step 3: Mix salt and baking soda in another dish.
Step 4: Gradually pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir well.
Step 5: Pour the mixture over the charcoal.
Step 6: Set the dish in a place low enough to watch your garden grow but out of reach of pets and little children.
What to Expect
Within one-half hour, crystals should begin to form on the charcoal or other material.
As time goes on and the liquid dries, if you so desire, mix a new recipe and add a bit to the side of the crystals. (Mine continued growing for six days.)
Be careful that the garden does not grow over the side of the dish. Do not worry if while you’re moving the plate, a crystal breaks. More will grow.
I took pictures each morning for six days at the same hour to see how much my crystal garden grew each day.
One day as I watched carefully, exciting things happened. A crystal split and a new pattern formed. Within minutes, another crystal split and made a new pattern.
If you use a magnifying glass when obseving your crystal garden, then you will be able to see the designs better. But be careful not to touch the crystals with the magnifying glass, or they will break.
What are crystals? What causes them to grow? The World Book Encyclopedia (1996) tells us that crystals are made of atoms and non-living substances such as metals and rocks.
Snowflakes, salt, and sugar consist of crystals. Certain liquids cause them to grow.
In my crystal garden, the bluing, baking soda, water, and charcoal caused the salt to grow into beautiful, white, flower-like crystals.
If you make a crystal garden, I know you too will enjoy watching your crystals grow into beautiful designs.
© Lee Hill-Nelson, Waco, Texas
Note about the photo: Snow and frost are also made of crystals.