Thursday, December 17, 2015

Borax Christmas Ornaments

The Tiny Funnel
I tested borax crystals for a work project awhile back and I've always wanted to make an ornament using the process. I've seen versions that use colored or tinsel pipe cleaners but I kept this simple and stuck with white pipe cleaners.
Borax- from laundry section of the grocery store --I used 20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Booster
Container- preferably one that is heat resistant such as a Pyrex measuring cup/bowl or a plastic bucket but not thin un-tempered glass
Hot water
Measuring cups
Wire cutters or nail clippers
12-inch pipe cleaners
Thin wire or paper clip
Dowel, pencil or chop stick
First, make the pipe cleaner shape-use the wire cutters or nail clippers* to cut the pipe cleaners into sections and twist them together to make a fun shape- or go simple and make a squiggle. I used pipe cleaners cut in half, twisted together, trimmed and looped.
*tip: nail clippers work well for kids to use to trim pipe cleaners

Cut a piece of wire, or unfold a paper clip and thread it through a loop, then hang the pipe cleaner shape from a dowel, pencil or chop sick suspended across the container.

Adjust the paper clip length to make sure the pipe cleaner shape doesn’t rest on the bottom or touch the sides but rather- hangs in the middle of the container.

Set it aside.
Add 3 tablespoons of borax for each cup of water used - dissolve the borax completely in very hot water. I used 8 cups of water and 1.5 cups (24 tablespoons) of borax in our big Pyrex measuring bowl (I've made big snowflakes in a white bucket with the same proportions). Whisk the borax in the water until it's dissolved.

Rest the stick across the top of the container with the pipe cleaner shape completely submerged in the solution.

Crystals form in 6 to 8 hours- overnight they were huge!
Remove the crystal shape and allow to dry.
The Tiny Funnel
The borax solution can be reheated but add more borax to make more crystals. We found it easier to just start over. The empty bowl was pretty spectacular!

The Tiny Funnel Everything I've read explains that the crystals are formed when the super saturated borax water mix cools. Hot water can hold more borax than cold water because the molecules are further apart. When the borax is dissolved into the hot water to a super saturation and then the water cools, the molecules contract and move closer together. The cooling water can't hold the borax so it comes out of solution and clings to the pipe cleaners and reforms into the crystals that build on each other as the water cools.

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