How to Grow Borax Crystals

This week’s craft project is a great companion for a kid’s science lesson. I made borax crystals from simple household ingredients, and really enjoyed the process. Even though my kiddos are a bit too young to take part in this craft (one of the steps involves pouring boiling water into prepared jars), I can imagine children of all ages getting into the activity, as well.

Borax Crystals Little Helper
Tiny Supervisor – He’ll be helping make borax crystals in no time!

We at The WON are fans of a craft or DIY project that also has an educational twist. The folks over at created a similar project, and listed these educational aspects as a great science pairing to the craft:

  • Solutions: Learn about saturation and what it means.
  • Hot & Cold: How the temperature of the water effects the dissolving and the quantity of borax it can hold.
  • Crystals: What type of molecules form crystals? Are they all the same shape?
  • Chemistry: What is the chemical makeup of these crystals. Does the solution change it from its original form?

Keep reading for the process I used to make these cool crystals.

Borax Rock Crystals 1

Materials List

Clean glass or Mason jars, one per crystal

Borax soap

Pipe cleaners, two per crystal

Bamboo grilling skewers, one per crystal

Fishing line

Food coloring, liquid or paste

Cardboard or paper plates

Borax Rock Crystal Materials

Borax Crystal Instructions

1. Fill kettle and place on stovetop to boil.

Boiling Water in Kettle
Kettle’s on!

2. While the water is coming to a boil, twist two pipe cleaners around each other. Be sure to make each pipe cleaner “ball” unique in shape. These will serve as the base on which our borax crystals will grow.

Borax Crystals Twisted Pipe Cleaners

3. Using the fishing line, suspend each pipe cleaner clump from a single bamboo skewer. Hang the clump so that it dangles inside a jar. Secure the clump so that it hangs about in the middle of the jar, from top to bottom.

Hanging the Pipe Cleaners Borax Crystals

Complete this step for however many crystals you want to grow. I made a total of five.

Borax Crystals Prepared Jars

4. Fill each jar with boiling water. Add enough so that each pipe cleaner clump is submerged.

Filling Jars with Boiling Water

At this point in the exercise, I took advantage of having boiled a full kettle, and made myself a cup of tea. The mug is from a local historic site, and is a great place for a field trip. If you live in NC and are interested to learn more, click here to find out about Town Creek Indian Mound.

Drinking the Tea

5. Slowly add borax powder to each water jar, stirring as you pour. Add enough borax until you reach the point of saturation, and the powder no longer dissolves in the hot water.

Adding Borax to Prepared Jars

6. Add food coloring to each jar. I had paste food coloring on hand, but the traditional, liquid version works just as well.

Dyeing the Water

7. Cover each jar with a bit of cardboard or paper plate.

Covering the Jars

I added too much borax in some of my jars, and a powder layer was visible on the bottom of the jar. This didn’t negatively effect my crystal growth.

Borax in Bottom of Jar

Let the borax crystals grow for about 24 hours.

Leave Borax Crystals for 24 Hrs

8. After 24 hours, remove the borax crystals from the jars. Place on a paper towel-lined plate to dry. Trim off all exposed fishing line.

Drying the Borax Crystals

Check out the end result!

Borax Rock Crystals 2
Borax Rock Crystals 3
  • About Jackie Richardson

    Jackie Baird Richardson is an interior designer, editor at The WON and avid junker. Watch for her design tips and occasional crafting ideas, bringing the outdoors indoors.