Thursday, January 16, 2014

Valentine's Day with Borax Crystals

When I was in elementary school (yes, I already dated myself with the Atari etc.), I always was so excited to be able to do science experiments or hands-on learning activities in the classroom.  I don't know about you, but I retained more from those activities than from most of the other sitting-in-my-desk class time!

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought I'd mention this fun past time that my kids, and their friends, worked on last year.  Their hearts turned out so well that we even sent them as gifts to their out of town cousins for the special day.  

So, when I found all the tutorials on how to make Borax crystals online, I decided it was time to give it a go with my kids and their friends.   I thought I had come up with the idea of making heart-shaped Borax crystals myself but apparently making the crystals into heart shapes isn't a novelty.  Oh, well...great minds, eh?

Anyhoo - I found TONS of borax shapes on Pinterest when getting ready for this post!  I especially LOVE these ones made into letters!  Wouldn't it be perfect to have a pre-school age child shape the letter he/she is learning to help with this project?  Brilliant idea Vicky!!
I found some other cute heart shaped Borax crystals  here and here.  And some fantastic snowflakes plus a great tutorial on this post.  The possibilities of what to make with your Borax are endless!

I know, these snowflakes are out of place; just showing a side-by-side before and after.

One of my daughter's friends shaped her pipe cleaner into the word love (seen above) and gave it to her mom - cute, right?!

Just some additional notes that I discovered after doing this three times:  
  1. You must wash the jar between each use - trying to just add more boiling water and new Borax to a previously Borax-used jar won't work.  The Borax won't cling to the new pipe cleaner if it has other Borax crystals to cling to on the sides of the jar.  
  2. Make sure your pipe cleaner doesn't touch the sides of the jar. You may just knock some of your beautiful crystals off the shape while trying to dislodge it from the jar (so your opening should be larger than the shape you put in it too - i.e. wide mouth canning jars work better than regular). 
  3. Though many recipes called for 1/3 cup of Borax in a pint jar, I found (with the quart jars that I used) that if I just added the Borax until it was not able to dissolve anymore, then I had so many more crystals than when I added the exact amount required.  More Borax = more beautiful crystals.  
  4. If you plan to hang your finished project, make sure you put the string that you're using to hang in the borax on right-side-up.  You'll notice that many of my poor hearts ended up with their stings on the bottom and I had to reattach another one to hang them atop.  The kids loved them anyway!
This was a super fun and easy project!  

UPDATE - The crystals one year later:

no longer clear and crystal looking; instead they've oxidized but are still quite lovely


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