Ingredients (per child)

1/4 cup borax (find it in the laundry aisle at the grocery store)
1 pipe cleaner
6 inches string
1 pint jar
popsicle stick, chopstick or straw
boiling water

Set water on stove to boil. Bend pipe cleaner into any shape you desire. Tie one end of string to shape, and the other end of the string to the popsicle stick. Make the string just long enough so that the shape can be suspended by the string in the jar without touching the sides, held up by the stick, which rests across the rim of the jar. Remove from jar and set aside.

Once water boils, pour into jar until it is 3/4 full. Add 1 TBSP borax, stirring until all borax dissolves and water clears. Repeat with another spoonful, and another, until the water no longer clears with stirring.

Place pipe cleaner shape attached to string back into water, making sure the shape does not touch the sides. Leave undisturbed overnight. By morning you should have crystals.

Warning: Use caution when letting children stir boiling water. Keep borax out of the mouths of children.


  1. We did this in girlscouts! I forgot all about them. They are so pretty, I am going to have to do this with my daughter, she’ll love it!

    I wonder how long they last? They would look neat on the Christmas tree with the lights shining on them, if they would last that is.

  2. Adrienne, They feel plenty sturdy to me– good idea! You could use those silver tinsel-type pipe cleaners for extra sparkle, though the blue would be lovely too. You could even bend them in the shape of people’s initials, and use them as gift toppers. We might just have to make some more.

  3. dragon-mum says:

    Now THEY look like lots of fun. I’ll just have to figure out what Borax is and if I can get it here in Oz 🙂 I’m sure my eldest will have a ball making them!

  4. I remember doing this as a child, I think it was girl scouts, too. I am going to look for Borax today so I can do this with my girls. I hope they have it here.

  5. Oh that is sooo pretty. Can’t wait to try it!

  6. Great idea! Thanks for sharing.

  7. That’s a lovely idea! I like the gift topper and ornaments idea. We’ll have to make these next week!

  8. They look pretty! I am going to have to make some, thank you for the idea.

  9. I have to do these we will make them as Christmas ornaments, I was thinking yellow pipe cleaner stars, green trees, red stocking shapes….thanks for the great idea.

  10. Borax is a cleaning agent – typically found in the laundry asile of the grocery or mart store.

    I use it as a laundry booster – it helps brighten whites reall well – you can use it for a TON of stuff – including ant posion (we’ve done that too!)

  11. Would ya believe we are studying about crystals today. Our experiment involves Epsom Salt, but we will definitly try this one too!!! Thanks!

  12. Did you use one of the pint jars from your pantry???? Will that affect the final count for the contest???


    Seriously, great idea. I’ll try this with my kids.

  13. what a great idea! I think I’ll use it too 🙂

  14. I just love your blog! What a fun way to get my day moving – a fun activity. The first thing I thought of when I saw those was Christmas ornaments; I’m glad others had the idea too! We’re gonna have SO much fun! I was also thinking that we might just use this as an object lesson on family night – how patience (waiting overnight) brings out the “sparkle” in all of us. Thanks!

  15. This looks so cool! We’re going to have to try this. Maybe we’ll make some ornaments.

  16. that is the cooolest thing!

  17. As a scientist, I feel compelled to explain what’s happening (feel free to skip this comment if you don’t care):

    Anything that can dissolve in water will become saturated at some concentration. As you increase the temperature, the concentration at saturation also increases. So by using hot water, you’re making a supersaturated solution. As it cools to room temperature, the amount that can be in solution lowers and the borax comes out of solution. The pipe cleaner allows the borax to nucleate (start) the crystal. If you didn’t put in the pipe cleaner, it would find someplace else to nucleate, most likely a scratch on the side of the glass.

    In theory, you could reheat the Borax/water and see the borax in the bottom go back into solution (and use it again by adding enough to supersaturate it again) although I’d probably try it in the microwave (in the jar) since I’m not sure what Borax will do to your pots.

    You should be able to do this with other compounds as well (like table salt), although I don’t know how expensive they would be or how well they would hold up after crystallizing. Table salt will saturate just above 5 molar at room temperature. Your homework (should you choose to continue) is to figure out how much that is in Tbs per quart.

    Also, putting it in the refrigerator or a bucket of ice water (instead of letting it cool down slowly) would be an interesting experiment. I think it would come crashing out of solution and might make really long crystals, but I’m not sure; it could just make a big globy mess.

  18. Well first, what a great activity and after reading the above comment by Brian (the scientist) now it has become fun and challenging. I like both. Thanks.

  19. Oooh, they’re so pretty! What a fun activity. Thanks for sharing!

  20. What a fun and pretty craft to do — although I think I might wait a while, I’m sure my almost 3 year old would think they are suckers and try to lick it. Hey, that was my first response when I saw the picture, so who could blame her! 🙂

  21. Mary do the crystals “keep” well enough to be Christmas ornaments?? I’m looking for a craft to do with kids/cousins over the Thanksgiving holiday, and remembered this one… Thanks!

  22. this is stupid

  23. Mary- I just came back to this b/c once we finish school this week, I want to do some fun stuff, and make these for Christmas ornaments. My question is: Can I do this with plastic bowls or must it be glass jars? I don’t have any jars, but I could get a few if it’s important to use jars.

  24. its awsome me and my friend did it a half hour ago so far no crystals but we will cheak on it tommorrow beause today is Saturday and i am sleeping over so i will wright back and tell u how it goes and it is also really fun making it!

  25. its awsome me and my friend did it a half hour ago so far no crystals but we will cheak on it tommorrow beause today is Saturday and i am sleeping over so i will wright back and tell u how it goes and it is also really fun making it! 1:15 P.M

  26. My 9 year old has an upcoming Science Project. She’s decided to try this one out. I’ll let you know how it went after we do it.
    Thanks!!!! They are pretty.

  27. This looks fun! I am going to help my sister do it for a school project. I cannot wait to see how it turns out! And I think it would look very good on a Christmas tree!

  28. Yes! Easy instructions on how to make a crystal!!! I have to make one for school and this is sooooooooo helpful! =)

  29. theworthfromfortworth says:

    it actually works and you can make funky stuff with it.

  30. It’s my 15 year (Crystal anniversary) I’m going to make all kinds of different ones!!


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