Learn how to make crystal ornaments at home!

Professor Figgy's Science Class from Sweet Paul on Vimeo.

Science Behind the Project: As the super-saturated solution cools, Borax is forced out of solution (because the water can no longer hold all of it) and crystals form spontaneously on the millions of microscopic surfaces (called nucleation sites) all over the material of the pipe cleaner. As the number of Borax molecules increases, the crystals get larger, eventually getting large enough to make the fabulous crystals you see on your ornament!

You will need:

9 tablespoons Borax (found in laundry aisle at grocery store)

pipe cleaner

craft sticks

thin wire (24- to 26-gauge)

container, with lid

microwave (or saucepan and stove)


wire cutters (or scissors)


measuring cup and measuring spoons

newspaper or drying rack

  1. Add 3 cups of water to container and heat to almost boiling in microwave (or heat 3 cups of water in a saucepan and add to container).
  2. Measure out Borax and slowly stir into hot water with craft stick, creating a milky, saturated solution.
  3. Loosely cover container with lid and set solution aside to cool slightly (about 30 minutes) while making the ornament base.
  4. Cut and bend pipe cleaner into desired shape or letter.
  5. Attach short length of wire to pipe cleaner form and wrap the other end of the wire around a craft stick.
  6. Remove lid from container and put pipe cleaner form in the borax solution, resting the craft stick across the mouth of the container. Adjust the length of the wire so the pipe cleaner is completely submerged but not touching the sides or bottom of the container.
  7. Loosely cover the whole setup with the lid and place in a location where you can check on the progress of your ornament but where it will not be disturbed.
  8. Slowly, the milky solution will become clear and you will be able to see your ornament’s progress. It should be full-grown in 8–12 hours.
  9. Once grown, remove it from the solution and let it air-dry overnight on newspaper or a drying rack. Be careful— crystals are fragile when they are wet. Once dry, hang your ornament on a tree or in a window.


Photography by Susanna Blavarg

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