Have you ever make a homemade science Christmas ornament? It’s one of the many awesome Christmas crafts for teens you can do together this holiday season.
My guess is that you’ve made a ton of DIY ornaments over the years with your kids, but if your tweens love science and enjoy making Christmas ornaments, this is the perfect project for them.
I’m going to show you how to grow crystals by using borax powder and pipe cleaners and turn them into beautiful crystal icicles that you can hang from your tree at Christmas and from your window during winter.
Ready? Let’s make some crystals.
Homemade Science Christmas Ornament
There are several ways to make crystal ornaments, but we had success using borax as the mineral, so that’s what I’m highlighting here.
This is an extremely popular craft for younger kids, but I would encourage you to do it with your tweens and teens.
My girls are 19 and 16, and they were thrilled when I asked them if they wanted to make their own crystal ornaments. They loved creating shapes out of the pipe cleaners and were giddy as they watched the crystals grow.
This easy winter craft and science experiment is bound to excite your tweens and teens.
Making Borax Christmas Ornaments
Borax is an excellent choice for making crystals. Not only is borax easy to find and relatively inexpensive, but it also reacts quickly compared to other options.
In fact, within a short amount of time, some had already developed on our pipe cleaner shapes.
If you’re new to the process of producing crystals, borax is an especially great choice as it’s less likely to cause any problems or mess. If you’re looking to create beautiful and intricate crystals without too much effort, borax should be your go-to ingredient.
Your kids can take their ornaments out of the jar whenever they’d like. It just depends on what size they want their crystals to be. We left ours in the solution overnight.
While a simple craft, this is also a cool science experiment. As you make your crystal icicles, you’re actually witnessing a chemical reaction. Your tween is familiar with chemical compounds being changed into another, like with these chemical reaction experiments.
However, with this, they’re actually using the reaction to separate compounds by going through a process called recrystallization. This is achieved when the borax dissolves in the hot water, then allowed to cool. It becomes crystals which can then be separated from the water.
Tweens begin by saturating the water with the borax, meaning they add the mineral until the water can’t absorb any more. The borax then becomes suspended in the water. You use boiling water because hot water can dissolve more powder than cold, and it stays suspended longer.
As the water cools, the molecules move closer together, pushing out the borax. It falls out of the water and bonds with other borax particles on any impurities it can find, like your pipe cleaner. That’s how to make crystals.
Pretty neat, huh?
DIY Science Ornaments
Before you make your crystals, you’ll need to gather some things.
These are the materials you’ll need to make borax crystal ornaments. They’re affiliate links on Amazon, so you can have them delivered to your door!
There are a few tools you’ll need to grab from around the house before you begin.
- Wide mouth mason jars (the size depends on the size of your icicle)
- Glass measuring cup
- Wooden spoon
Tips for Making Crystals with Borax and Pipe Cleaners
Here are a few things to note or keep in mind when making these DIY ornaments.
- Borax can be harmful if swallowed or inhaled, so use caution when doing this activity. Luckily, if you’re doing this with teens, you shouldn’t have to worry too much. Just make sure they clean up well after they’re finished.
- Crystals will form quickly, but if you want your pipe cleaner full of large crystals, leave it overnight.
- You can easily make whatever crystal ornament shape you’d like by changing the frame of your pipe cleaner.
- We made icicles because we’re going to hang them in our windows to celebrate winter after Christmas. But stars, snowflakes, and trees all make beautiful crystal ornaments.
- We used a similar process to make gorgeous crystal coffee filter snowflakes.
- Use either chenille or glitter pipe cleaners. It didn’t make a difference to the crystal growth in our experiment.
- If you use colored pipe cleaners, the icicle will take on a slight hue. To truly make your crystal icicle a different color, add food coloring to the water after you dissolve the borax into it.
Are you interested in an even easier way to make your own crystals? Use an all-in-one kit! They’re a great addition to your science lesson plans, plus they make excellent gifts for your family.
Best Christmas Ornaments
Here are some ornaments that your tween will love hanging on the tree.
- Harry Potter Broomstick Ornament
- Homemade Harry Potter Ornament – potion bottle
- Paper Christmas Ornaments
- Chalk Pastel Angel Ornament
- DIY Harry Potter Ornaments
Unique Christmas Ornaments
How to Make Borax Crystal Ornaments
Ready to learn how to make crystals and turn them into beautiful crystal ornaments?
- Pipe cleaners
- String or twine
- Boiling water
- Wide mouth mason jar
- Wooden spoon
- Choose a heat-safe jar to grow your crystal icicle. Mason jars are perfect for this project. Fill it about 3/4 full and use a measuring cup to measure how many cups of water it is. Take note of this number.
- Boil the water on the stove or in the microwave.
- While your water is heating up, make an icicle shape from a pipe cleaner. To get a tight, evenly spaced spiral shape, wrap your pipe cleaner around a pencil or the handle of a wooden spoon.
- Cut a piece of string about 8" long. Tie one end to the top of your pipe cleaner spiral and the other to a pencil.
- Fill your container with boiling water, being extremely careful.
- Add 3 heaping Tablespoons of borax for every 1 cup of water and stir until it dissolves. Continue adding a tablespoon of Borax at a time and stir until it no longer dissolves. It's saturated enough when some borax settles on the bottom.
- Carefully add your pipe cleaner to the jar, so it's fully submerged, but not touching the sides or bottom of the container. Lay your pencil across the opening to keep the icicle in place.
- Place your jar somewhere it won't be disturbed. Crystals will start forming pretty quickly, but for the best results, let it sit overnight.
- When you're ready, carefully lift the pencil and pull out your crystal icicle.
- Cut or untie the string from the pencil. Set it down to dry.
- Tie a loop and hang it from your tree.
Borax can be harmful if swallowed or inhaled, so use caution when doing this activity.
Are your tweens excited to make their own homemade Christmas ornament using science?