Grow Your Own Crystal Garden

Here's what you'll need...
  • clear cup for the crystals
  • cup for mixing
  • measuring spoon (normal spoon works well)
  • stirring rod
  • Mrs. Stewards Liquid Bluing
  • Ammonia
  • salt
  • spongy material (sponge or peice of charcoal)

This week, let’s learn how to make your very own salt crystal garden. That’s right we are going to grow salt! While we are not making new salt we are going to use the salt to make crystals.

First, we will need to make our growing solution. Take a spoon full of Mrs. Stewarts Liquid Bluing (can normally be found in the laundry detergent isle at most stores), a spoon full of salt, and a spoon full of ammonia and mix it in a cup. The portions do not have to be exact, but it should end up being a one-to-one-to-one ratio. This means, there should be the same amount of bluing agent as there is ammonia as there is salt.

Mix this solution together for about a minuet. The goal is to dissolve as much salt as you can but do not worry, all of the salt will not dissolve.

Now, place a piece of charcoal, or any sponge like material at the bottom of a clear cup, and poor the salt solution over the top of it getting as much of the salt on top of the sponge material as you can. If you want, add a few drops of food coloring on top of the salt and let it sit over night. Be sure to leave it in a safe place so that it does not get knocked or moved around to much, salt crystals are very fragile.

By the next day, you should be seeing some crystal growth!

Crystals are usually created when a certain mineral or compound is dissolved in water, and that water evaporates. As the water evaporates, the mineral/compound’s molecules will line up in such a way that a crystal is formed. This process will also sometimes work if the right substance is melted and allowed to re-solidify.

In our experiment, the salt is being dissolved in the ammonia, and over night the ammonia dries up and the salt is left to crystallize. The bluing agent helps with crystal formation because the ammonia will break it down into the iron and salts that it is made of, and those particles will give the crystals something to grow around. Our charcoal/sponge helps lift the ammonia solution from the bottom of the cup to the top so that more crystals can form.

Try this at home and do not be afraid to change it up a little bit. Try a piece of charcoal and a sponge and see which one works better, or add more of one of the ingredints and see what happens. Either way, try it at home and let us know how it works!