Susan is a science geek and writer who loves writing articles and tutorials to help you out!
Crystals really are amazing! They sparkle and add a shine to your home. Even if you want to try out a fun home science experiment or have some sparkling crystals, this article is the right one for you. Here, I will be showing and telling you how to actually 'grow' your own coloured sparkling crystals. Ranging from red, green, yellow, orange, pink, blue, purple to many more, there is sure to be a colour that tickles your fancy.
The materials used are cheap, and are very common to get. You will need things such as food colouring (which is easily found in the baking department of a supermarket), sugar, water, string and a glass jar. The crystals will take a good 24 to 48 hours to grow but once you have been patient, and waited (the excitement!), you will have amazing crystals in no time.
Materials Needed to Make Crystals
The materials you need couldn't be easier to find. You will need a few basic ingredients and each ingredient is listed below as well as its function. Once you have these materials, you are ready to begin.
- Sugar (or Epsom Salts): This is the primary substance you will need as it provides and makes the actual structure of the crystal. Sugar creates a more 'frosty' crystal whilst the Epsom salts create the prism effect.
- Food colouring: This is essential in giving the crystals a good strong colour. If you want to create multi-coloured crystals, I recommend that you buy the three primary colours, which are red, blue and yellow. Once you have these three, you can create a wide variety of colours. I will be teaching you more about mixing the colours later on.
- Glass Jar: Even an ordinary jam jar will do; any glass jar is perfect as long as it is tall enough for the crystals to grow. This jar will be the house of the whole experiment and is the place where the crystals grow.
- String: Use the traditional string that has a slightly woolly feel. Whatever you do, don't use a plastic coated string as the crystals will not be able to grow there.
- Pencil: Make sure you get an old one that you will never use again; it might get a little sticky in the process.
- Pot: Used for boiling the water in, naturally.
Before We Begin...
Up until this stage, I am sure you are wondering what the crystals will actually look like at the end. Without further ado, above, I am showing you what the end point of your crystal growing will look like. Of course, a crystal like this was made by an experienced crystal grower but you could master a hobby like this in no time.
Imagine growing crystals like these in all the different colours. Wow, that would be magnificent! I have a feeling that the picture reminds you of something: rock candy. Yes, the principle you will be doing here is the same technique used to make rock candy. I am sure that you will want to know what the process of crystal growing involves.
In case you are thinking that you have to be a real hard-core scientist, and the answer is no, no you don't. Basically, all you have to do is boil some water, add the sugar and food colouring and you are done. Throw in the solution into a jar with some strings dangling off a pencil and you are done, literally.
Be careful of boiling water! It will burn you should you come in contact with it. Keep the pot away from children at all times, as boiling water can be lethal.
How to Make the Crystals
Now that you have your materials and I have given you a brief walk-through of what you are going to do, it is time to get started. Also, again, remember to keep away boiling water from children, it is very dangerous. Time to get started!
- Get your pot and fill it up with water. Put in about three cups of water. Start heating the water.
- Next get your sugar and add in about one cup of sugar per three cups of water. Keep adding sugar at regular intervals. Don't be sparing! Use as much as you can. I once did this experiment and did not add enough sugar. Result? No crystals.
- Stir in the sugar as it dissolves. Keep adding in the sugar. The sugar should be dissolving as the water heats up. If not, keep stirring.
- Add more sugar until no more will dissolve. So if the sugar is not dissolving and is merely sinking to the bottom of the pot, then your solution is saturated.
- Add a few drops of food colouring. (See below for mixing the colours)
- If you want the crystals to smell nice, add a few drops of food flavouring. There are many varieties available including lemon, cherry, pineapple and cotton candy. Seriously, there are tens of flavours to choose from on Amazon.
- Next, pour the solution into your jar and tie some string onto a pencil so that it dangles off the pencil. Place the pencil just over the top of the jar and make sure the string is completely dipped or immersed in the liquid.
- Leave the jar there for 24 to 48 hours depending on how big you want your crystals to grow.
- After you have waited, gently take out the string that is attached onto the pencil. There should be medium sized crystals on the string in the colour of your choice. Well done!
Mixing Your Colours
Whilst you can buy food colouring in a variety of colours, it is just as fun to mix them yourself should you only have one or two colours. The possibilities are endless from every colour in the rainbow, you can mix it. Here is your guide on how to do so:
- Add three drops of red and two drops of blue to make a wine-purple colour.
- Add two drops of red and three drops of blue to get a violet colour.
- One or two drops of red give you a pink colour.
- Blue and yellow gives you green.
- Yellow and red gives you orange.
- Yellow and green gives you blue.
Excellent for Your Crystal Growing...
Making Bigger Ones
Okay, so you have made your crystals using the method that was mentioned above. They usually turn out very nice, but if you are a budding crystal grower, you may want bigger, better crystals. There is a method that you can use that gives you bigger crystals by simply using the crystals you have grown previously as the seeds for the next size up.
- Make another fresh solution using the sugar again. In fact, do the whole process again.
- Then at the end, instead of using a new string as a place for your crystals to grow, use the string with the crystals already grown on it. Dip that string into the jar and leave for three to four days. What you will have there are bigger, more sparkly crystals.
Susan W (author) from The British Isles, Europe on October 15, 2013:
Nice to see you! Thanks for following me, I followed you too!
Coloured sand is beautiful, it involves quite a skill to make but is fun too. I'm sure your mom will like making coloured sugar crystals, the procedure is fairly similar and it produces excellent results. Thanks for commenting, sprickita!
sprickita from Reno on October 13, 2013:
my mom loves making her own colored sand to use in her projects, she will love the suger idea!! Thank You very nice happy hub...
Susan W (author) from The British Isles, Europe on September 22, 2013:
Thanks so much for the great comments and the vote up, I really appreciate your visit. Yes, alum crystals seem to turn out a little bigger than salt crystals. You could also try sugar too, its crystals is similar to that of salt. Colouring the crystals is a really fun part and the crystals look amazing! Science is a fascinating subject and crystal making is a really cool thing to do.
I'm glad you liked this thanks again for everything Laura!
Laura Schneider from Minnesota, USA on September 21, 2013:
Cool, susi10! As a kid I made (non-colored) sugar crystals before. Also salt and alum crystals. Alum crystals are bigger with fewer facets; salt crystals are a cool/weird squarish shape and don't generally get so large.
Now I'm excited to turn my kitchen into a chemistry lab once again... Alum crystals were my favorites; I think I'll try making colored ones!
Note that the longer it takes to cool the bigger the crystals will be, and the less you bump/mess with it the more perfect the crystals will be.
Voted up, awesome, interesting! Thanks for sharing, this was really cool! Cheers!
Yoleen Lucas from Big Island of Hawaii on July 18, 2013:
Thanks you guys!
Susan W (author) from The British Isles, Europe on July 18, 2013:
Hi The Examiner-1,
I completely agree with you, making sugar crystals are going to attract bugs and insects. They can be very annoying sometimes! My only suggestion would be to use table salt instead, that wouldn't get as much attention from bugs as the sugar would.
Susan W (author) from The British Isles, Europe on July 18, 2013:
Hi Say Yes To Life,
Glad I could help. I have to agree with The Examiner-1 on your question. Making crystals from sugar will attract fruitflies, bees, wasps, you name it. Wasps thrive from the sugar, I had a very nasty incident a while back when I made some crystals in the summer. We left the crystals there and after a few days when we returned, there were at least fifty wasps eating the crystals. We had to abandon the whole idea.
What I have found useful are making crystals out of table salt or Epsom Salts, you will get a lot less wasps and flies eat the crystals. To make crystals that don't attract any insects, I would suggest the National Geographic Crystal Growing Kit. I know its for kids but you can make some beautiful, big, vivid coloured crystals. There are over twenty types to choose from frosted white crystals to Emerald coloured crystals to Ruby to Amethyst to Turquoise to Rose Quartz. They keep well.
As for lining your walls with crystals? That is going to take a lot of work on your part. Provided you don't make the crystals out of sugar, you should be fine.
The Examiner-1 on July 18, 2013:
I read this Hub by susi10 a while ago and although I enjoyed it, where I am living right now has bugs and I did not even want to try one experiment in case it drew a chain of ants, or other bugs. I would hate to think what lining the walls would do unless you can be absolutely sure you would not get one ant, or fruit fly.
Yoleen Lucas from Big Island of Hawaii on July 17, 2013:
What if I want to line my walls with crystals, like the Naica Mine Crystal Caves in Mexico? Will they keep well? Will the ants attack it?
Susan W (author) from The British Isles, Europe on July 17, 2013:
Hi Say Yes To Life,
Thanks for reading and for sharing your experience. To be honest with you, those crystal making sets don't work and only create disappointment for children, they certainly won't turn out as the huge Amethysts and Rose Quartz's on the cover. In creating your crystals, I reckon you did not add enough salt, you have to keep adding salt until the solution is saturated. If the solution is not saturated, crystals are very unlikely to form. Adding string will help the crystal making process, although evaporating off the solution is the more popular one.
Placing crystals (known as a crystal seed) in another solution will not dissolve them, not for sugar anyway, in fact you will get a larger crystal. Based on my experience on making crystals with kids, making crystals from sugar preserve the best. They will preserve for more than a few years, there is no need to preserve them with anything. I would suggest that you store the crystals at room temperature, any warmer and they could melt. If you want to form a room ornament, make some plaster of paris and when still wet, press your crystal into the plaster. When dried, you should have a beautiful ornament! I hope this answers your questions and thanks for asking! Should you have any more or need further clarification, please add another comment.
Yoleen Lucas from Big Island of Hawaii on July 16, 2013:
I once bought a crystal making kit for an 8 year old child, and we tried making crystals together with it. The water took forever to dissolve, and all we got were a few really tiny ones at the bottom of the glass and some mildew. I don't know what we did wrong, but it reading your post, my guess is that there wasn't enough salt in the water - plus we didn't add the string.
You said you could grow bigger crystals by placing the ones you made in another solution. Wouldn't that dissolve those crystals, though? Also, how well do they preserve, once made? Should you cover them with shellac to make sure they don't melt or deteriorate?
Susan W (author) from The British Isles, Europe on June 26, 2013:
Hi rosika! Thank you for reading my hub about making crystals, I am glad you like it! I am very happy that you will give it a try, food colouring is very easy to buy. I am sure you will get great results! I'm looking forward to how you get on.
rosika on June 24, 2013:
An interesting....I will give it try....I just need to buy food color!
Susan W (author) from The British Isles, Europe on June 17, 2013:
Thank you for reading this hub, I'm delighted! Thank you for the voting up and the share and the wonderful comment. I have plenty more of these fun science experiments on the way, so stay tuned!
Eiddwen from Wales on June 17, 2013:
Interesting and so useful. I now look forward to many more. This one voted up and shared.
Susan W (author) from The British Isles, Europe on June 14, 2013:
Thanks for the great comment, Writer Fox! Glad to see you liked it and thank you for voting up!
Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on June 12, 2013:
What a creative idea for a science project for children! I very much appreciated your detailed instructions. Enjoyed and voted up.
Susan W (author) from The British Isles, Europe on June 12, 2013:
Thank you for reading this, Marcy. I am so glad that you like it, and that kids would like it too. I suppose this experiment shows that science doesn't have to be boring for kids, it can be very exciting.
Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on June 11, 2013:
I like this idea! You obviously have some great information about science and chemical reactions (or something). Kids would love this - just plain love it. Voted up!!!
The Examiner-1 on June 07, 2013:
Thank you, I will remember that.
Susan W (author) from The British Isles, Europe on June 06, 2013:
Thanks for reading! Yes, sugar does attract ants and fruit flies. That can be a problem. However, you can still make the crystals using either table salt or Epsom Salts which can be bought at a pharmacy. Simply follow the same steps as mentioned above but replace the sugar with either salt or Epsom Salts.
The Examiner-1 on June 06, 2013:
That sure brings back memories. I cannot do that, though, due to the fact that I have too many bugs. Fruit flies are a problem with having to cover food as I make it, so I would not leave sugar in an open jar. It would probably also attract ants .
Susan W (author) from The British Isles, Europe on June 06, 2013:
Cool, eugbug! I never knew about waterglass in the growing of crystals, I'll check that one out! Yes, you can grow crystals from anything that dissolves in water like salt, sugar, copper sulphate...anything like that. Thanks for reading and thank you for leaving your wonderful comments!
Eugene Brennan from Ireland on June 06, 2013:
I didn't realize you could do this! I remember growing a "crystal garden" many years ago using sodium silicate solution (waterglass)