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Friday 18 January 2013

Borax Crystal Snowflakes

I recently came across a fabulous winter project: Borax crystal snowflakes.

Have you made them before? Part craft, part science, they're incredibly simple to make using only a few ingredients and look stunning when they're done.

Borax crystal snowflakes

I really wish I'd discovered this project before Christmas. I can see a Christmas tree covered with sparkling crystal snowflakes, beautifully lit by twinkling Christmas lights. Next year.

Sparkly snowflakes - on a not so sparkly window!

Wishing you had sparkly snowflakes to decorate your home too? Well, here's how you can make them...

What you'll need:
Borax (you can find borax in the laundry aisle of your supermarket)
Boiling water
White (or light coloured) pipe cleaners
Food colouring (optional)
Glass containers large enough to fit your snow flakes without touching the sides or bottom
Fishing line or thread
Craft stick, ruler or similar to suspend your snowflake from

Everything you'll need to make your crystal snowflakes

Here's how you do it:

To make a simple snowflake shape, cut a pipe cleaner into three even lengths. Fold each of the three lengths into a V shape. Link two of the pieces and twist together. Then twist the third piece around the middle. You will now have a six pointed star. Bend the pipe cleaner slightly until you're happy with it. Trim ends as needed, leaving one slightly longer than the other. The longer end can be bent over to secure the fishing line or thread.  

Making pipe cleaner snowflake shapes

You can leave the snowflakes plain or add small pieces on the ends.

Once you've made up your pipe cleaner snowflakes you'll need to add fishing line or thread in order to be able to suspend them in the solution. I made a small bend on the longest end of each snowflake and tied on the fishing line. I then bent over the end of the pipe cleaner to hold it a little more securely.

Now to make the crystal solution. The solution is simply made from boiling water and borax, using a ratio of 3 tablespoons of borax for every cup of water. The amount you need will depend on the size of the glass container that you use. I used a vase, tumblers and a pyrex jug as my containers.

Add the required amount of borax to the boiling water and stir until it dissolves. The mix will look quite cloudy. If you'd like to make coloured snowflakes you can add food colouring at this point. Just used one drop of colouring for every cup of boiling water.

Adding borax to the boiling water

Once the borax has dissolved, suspend the pipe cleaner snowflake in the mix by resting the stick that it's tied to across the top of the container. Make sure that the snowflake is fully submerged but not touching the bottom or sides. If your container is big enough you can fit multiple snowflakes, just make sure that they don't touch otherwise they'll join together when the crystals form.

Pipe cleaner snowflakes suspended in the borax mix

Now here's the easiest step. Leave the snowflakes submerged in the borax mix for at least a few hours, preferably overnight. As the boiling water cools crystals begin to form on the container, thread and, of course, your snow flake.

Crystals starting to form

Once you're happy with the crystal coverage take the snowflakes out of the mix and place them on a piece of paper towel to dry. When they're dry you can hang them in a window, on a Christmas tree or where ever you'd like to display them.

Snowflake in my bedroom window

We don't get much sun coming through our windows so I took our snowflakes up to our roof top garden to take photos. On the way upstairs I noticed that the sun coming through the windows in the stairwell made the snowflakes sparkle beautifully. We stopped to take some photos there which I think came out nicely - despite the fact that the stairwell windows could do with a good clean!

Snowflake in the window

Snowflakes in the window

Snowflakes in the window

Snowflakes in the window

We made it up onto our roof as the sun was setting which made for lovely photos. It was a beautiful clear day here in the Bay Area and our view over San Francisco and the Bay was completely unobstructed by fog or cloud. Perfect for taking photos!

Ava with a snowflake

Ava with a snowflake

Crystals in Ava's (very dirty!) hands

Snowflake and sunset

Snowflake and the dwindling sun

Sparkly snowflake

Snowflakes lined up

Snowflakes lined up

Oh, and here's that beautiful sunset view over San Francisco that I mentioned...

Spectacular sunset over San Francisco Bay

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