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.
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Step 1: Materials and Tools
You don't need much for this project:
- 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.
- 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"
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
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
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
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
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.
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