DIY borax geode
In this post I'm going to show you how to make a huge borax geode! This was so fun to make and took a few days but all in all was so worth the time. My 10 year old is so proud of this creation!
Pipe cleaners (about 12 total)
Ruler, paint stick, butter knife or other flat thing
Nylon wire, yarn, twine, cotton string, etc.
First, We watched the YouTube video by The Last Viking and cut some pipe cleaners in half, then cut our pieces in half again. Then using 6 full size pipe cleaners we made a circle and connected long pieces from one end of the circle to the other. Then we took the smaller pieces and wove them around the long pieces of the pipe cleaners. We wanted to be sure that we weren't leaving gaps that are TOO big. Looking back- I would have added more pipe cleaners to it because ultimately when you get more solidification you get more larger growth crystals. They are awesome!
Once you have your pipe cleaners assembled, you'll want to make a super saturated solution out of borax. You'll do that by mixing 3/4 cup of borax every 500 mL water. Our pot was 16 cups water so we needed 6 cups borax total for our solution each time. We ended up going through 2.5 boxes of borax- so all in all our crystal cost around $12. When you make your solution it wont be boiling but it will be hot, so after you have crystals that have formed on your pipe cleaners, wait for the solution to cool completely (about 1 hour for us) before adding your crystals back in, otherwise they might just dissolve in the hot solution. That wouldn't be fun! In a cooler temperature, the crystals have somewhere to cling to. Then you leave it overnight! We would lift ours out every morning and make great fun of it just to see what it turned into over night. I would set our newspaper and napkins to catch the drips. Once that was set, I would take the water in the pan and discard it, then toss the borax. This is just to ensure accurate measurements every time with the saturated crystal solution. Then I would make more crystal solution, wait for it too cool, add coloring if desired, and then dunk our pipe cleaner creation into the solution.
For our first and second dunks, we added green food coloring, but it didn't seem to be adding much actual color to the borax crystals themselves. We decided then to break into the art supplies and see what colors we could come up with! We decided to use acrylic inks because of how water soluble and deeply pigmented they are. We could have used watercolors, but it may not have had as much pigment, either way this is after the second dunk.
We decided to add some acrylic inks to the water and it really helped everything come together!
This is after 3 days of making more solution, adding color, cooling it completely, dunking the pipe cleaner creation, and then pulling it out the next morning to re start the process. This was so fun to do with my son, I know he loved it and it helped us learn more about crystals- a feature of earth science he has expressed interest in so we are discovering what we can about natural crystals through the experience of growing synthetic ones and comparing our results to natural crystals.
So excited to place this on the table next to some geodes we found and crushed ourselves! We are also growing some geodes from a crystal growing kit. Those crystals are grown from monoammonium phosphate.
Why do these crystals grow?
A supersaturated solution is defined as a solution that contains more than the maximum amount of solute (water soluble substance- usually a powder) that is capable of being dissolved at a given temperature. In this case with borax the solubility curve jumps up at a high temperature, so you'll need to get the water quite hot for all of your solution to absorb. Once it does, as it cools the solute wants to recrystallize onto something and we will use our pipe cleaners as seed agents for the borax to recrystallize to. This mimics the water filled with ions in igneous rock, or the water in limestone caves slowly building up over many years- and each synthetic experiment has allowed us to consider how these things are mimicked with accuracy in nature. These crystals grow because they are looking for something to attach to and that can be determined by what you use for your crystal 'seed'. In some experiments, you will need to use a seed crystal youve grown and attached a string to, in other cases you can use a seed agent such as a pipe cleaner to grow your crystals.