Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Crystal Garden

It's been years since i've done a crystal garden w/ the boys.  Since they've been home so much this winter, i thought i really need to do it again this year.  With just a few household items you can form your own pretty crystals.
Here are the directions:

Place 2+ layers, slightly piled, of clean, wet coal in a glass dish.
Generously sprinkle wet coal with salt, (approx 2T)
Dot with food coloring (blue/green or blue/red work nicely).
Pour 2 T liquid blueing into pan at one side, NOT on coal.
Mix 2T ammonia with 2T water and add to pan, as you did the blueing, NOT on the salted coal.

Watch colored crystals form in the next 1-3 days.
*charcoal doesn't give as dramatic results.

It'll look like this initially:

You can experiment with colors, i used red and blue.  The following is the easiest explanation i found for how this works:

The garden is formed by the salt after the water and ammonia evaporate away.  The ammonia helps to speed the evaporation of the liquid from the mixture.  The laundry bluing helps to form crystal blooms instead of crystal chunks or plates.  The bluing solution is actually a colloidal suspension; it has very small particle that will not dissolve, but are held up and separated by the liquid.  As the water evaporates away, the salt forms crystals using the colloidal particles as a seed, or nucleus, for growth.  The liquid mixture and the salt are pulled away from the bottom of the container up to the tops of the porous material by capillary action, much the same way water spreads through a sponge.  This allows you to add more mixture to the bottom and have your garden bloom and grow forever.  You could experiment by leaving out the ammonia or bluing, or changing the ratios in the recipe.

After less then 48 hours:

No comments: