Make shimmering, crystal icicles at home or in the classroom with this simple science experiment!
Have you ever made “ice crystals” with Borax and Pipecleaners? It’s one of those classic science activities for kids, but believe it or not, until last week, we hadn’t done it before. We decided to give it a try, and we made these Crystallized Icicle Ornaments, and I have to tell you, it I was really impressed!
I was fascinating to watch the icicles form. We would check the progress every couple of hours, excited to see the crystals forming on our pipe cleaners.
You can make your own crystallized ornaments with just a couple of common house hold supplies. The science experiment is easy to set up, and you’ll end up with some gorgeous, new ornaments for the kids to hang on the Christmas tree this year.
I think I was just as excited as the kids were by the results! Believe it or not, I had never done the borax crystal experiment before. Seriously! What rock was I living under?
I loved this science experiment for so many reasons:
- it’s very easy
- kids of all ages will enjoy it
- the results happen quickly
- it’s inexpensive
- supplies are kept to a bare minimum
- the results are fascinating!
Let me show you how it’s done!
To make your crystallized icicle ornaments, you’ll need:
Making your ornaments:
Begin by twirling your pipe cleaners around a pencil to form a spiral-shaped icicle. Tie a piece of string or thin cord to the top of the ice icicle. Make sure this piece of string is long enough that you can turn it into a hanging loop for your ornament when you’re finished.
In a pot or a large spouted container, dissolve 9 tbsp of Borax in 3 cups of very hot water. We boiled our water in the kettle first so it would be hot enough to dissolve the Borax. Stir your solution very well until the Borax has completely dissolved. This can take a few minutes. When your solution is crystal clear, you’re good to go.
Next, pour your Borax and water solution into your glass jars.
Now you need to suspend your pipe cleaners freely in the solution. You can do this one of two ways.
- tie your ornaments to a spoon or craft stick and lay that across the top of your jar
- tape the string to the side of the jar, ensuring the pipe cleaners aren’t touching each other or the sides of the jar (that’s what we did)
Now, you just have to wait for a bit. Set your jar in a safe place where the solution can cool. We left ours on the kitchen counter out of direct sunlight.
We went off and played for a while, and within a couple of hours, our crystals were starting to form. They looked amazing! Just like teeny-tiny ice cubes clinging to the metallic fibres of the pipe cleaners!
To max out the crystallization process, we left our pipe cleaners resting in the jar overnight. In the morning, they looked like this:
Aren’t they cool?
I know some people do this science experiment with white pipe cleaners and they add a bit of food colour to the borax/water, but I’ve heard that when you do it that way, the colour can fade. I love the idea of using these coloured metallic pipe cleaners because that won’t happen. Your icicles will always be whatever colour the pipe cleaners are.
Aren’t they beautiful when the crystals shimmer in the sunlight?
Don’t be fooled! Although they look delicate and fragile, these ornaments are tough! After lots of little ones handling, and being dropped on the floor several times, our icicles are still perfectly intact!
They look so pretty hanging on our Christmas tree!
Looking for more easy, inexpensive Christmas crafts for your kids?
Check out our entire collection on my Happy Hooligans Christmas Craft pinboard!
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.