Introduction: LED Lit Crystal Decorations

Picture of LED Lit Crystal Decorations

My daughter and I have been making snowflake crystal decorations with Borax and we recently tried making the decorations around LEDs so that they glow. The process is simple and no two are alike, just like real snowflakes.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

You don't need much for this project:

Materials

  • Borax. You can get this at most grocery stores
  • Pipe cleaners. We chose white sparkly ones to be in keeping with the snow flake idea, but they can be any color
  • LEDs. We are using Christmas lights that are white, again because of the snow flake idea, but any color LEDs will do. You could also use battery operated LEDs or individual LEDs that you wire up yourself. It takes a while to make the crystals so you might not want to get a strand of 300 LEDs.

Tools:

  • Pliers to cut and shape the pipe cleaners
  • A container to grow the crystals (the one we are using holds about a quart) Plastic or glass is best.
  • Having some sticks (disposable chopsticks work great) to keep the crystals suspended in the solution is handy though not absolutely necessary.

Step 2: Make Your "snowflakes"

Picture of Make Your "snowflakes"

Cut the pipe cleaners into small pieces and form into your snowflake shapes. We made the shapes about 2 inches by 2 inches. You could make bigger crystals lit by more than one LED if you wanted. Make enough shapes for your LEDs

Step 3: Attach Pipe Cleaner Shapes to LEDs

Picture of Attach Pipe Cleaner Shapes to LEDs

Use small bits of pipe cleaner to attach the shapes to the LEDs. Make sure there is some pipe cleaner right next to the LED so that the LED will get covered by the crystals.

Step 4: Prepare the Saturated Solution for Growing the Crystals

Picture of Prepare the Saturated Solution for Growing the Crystals

Boil some water in a pot. Make sure that you only boil as much water as will fit in your container for growing crystals.

Once the water has come to a boil, turn off the heat and start adding borax.

Stir the Borax until it dissolves. Continue to add Borax in small amounts until it no longer dissolves in the water. You have now saturated the water completely and are ready to grow crystals.

Step 5: Prepare the Growing Container

Picture of Prepare the Growing Container

Add the Borax-Water solution to the container you have for growing the crystals. Add the pipe cleaner shapes with the LEDs. Try to make sure the shapes aren't touching each other or the crystals will grow together. Try to keep the shapes from being too close to the sides or the bottom of the container as well. It isn't too critical because you can always break pieces off of the crystals you grow later.

Step 6: Let the Crystals Grow

The crystals will take about 3 hours to grow. The more time, the thicker they will grow on the pipe cleaners. Keep an eye on them and pull them out when they are as thick as you want.

Step 7: Your Snow Flakes Are Done

Picture of Your Snow Flakes Are Done

Take the crystals out and let them drip dry. If they are connected to each other break them apart. You can break any pieces off that have formed along the sides or bottom. The crystals will come off the wire fairly easily. Save any of the crystals you don't use and add it to the solution next time. They will dissolve in the hot water.

Plug in your lights and watch your snowflakes glow.

I hope you like this Instructable, it's my first one. Please vote for me in the Make it Glow contest.

Comments

dguizar1 (author)2014-12-10

Did you let the water/borax cool down before adding your lights?
Very cool idea.

mpatchen (author)dguizar12014-12-10

After the water comes to a boil I turn off the heat and start adding Borax. By the time it is saturated the water is very hot but not boiling. The crystals form as the water cools so you can't let it cool completely. I would guess that it was around 170 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit when I put the LEDs in.

mbnielson (author)2014-12-07

What a great idea, so simple and yet so pretty.
Could you color the crystals with food coloring?

mpatchen (author)mbnielson2014-12-08

Food coloring will change the color of the crystals, but the color is not very intense. You can get more of an effect if you uses a pipe cleaner the color you want as well as using colored LEDs

JackANDJude (author)2014-12-07

Pretty and interesting!

clea.fowler (author)2014-12-07

This is fantastic!

tomatoskins (author)2014-12-07

That's a great idea! And beautifully executed! You've got my vote.

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