Crystal Chemistry Tree Crate

Crystal Tree (5)

Of all the holiday projects from Kiwi Co this year, this was by far Travis’s favorite. You can follow along on this project with materials from the craft store and drugstore; do supervise very closely, as chemicals (ammonia in particular) are involved. But the result is stunning!

To start, we needed to prepare the planting pot. Insert a plastic cup into a silver cup, and decorate with the provided red ribbon for a festive touch. The tree is two pieces of cardboard that slot together. Travis “planted” this firmly.

Crystal Tree (1)

He loved the felt ornaments to hang on the tree!

Crystal Tree (2)

As a final decoration, twist together three silver pipe cleaners, and arrange as a star on top.

Crystal Tree (3)

Now it was time for some science. I poured the bluing solution into the plastic cup first. A bluing solution is potassium nitrite and sodium hydroxide dissolved in water. Travis was a good sport listening to all the safety cautions about handling these chemicals

Next I poured in the provided ammonia. He was not a fan of the smell! Finally, we poured the provided salt packet evenly around the tree.

Crystal Tree (4)

Use the provided pipette to drip the solution over the tree branches until saturated.

Only an hour later, I noticed that already a few little sparkles had appeared. Travis went to bed full of wonder at how it might look in the morning.

To be perfectly honest, I’d forgotten about it when we came down for breakfast. “Mom, look!” he called out. I, too, was stunned with the white frosty crystals blooming all over the branches.

Crystal Tree (6)

One note of caution: the crystals are very delicate and will fall off at even the tiniest budge, so have your tree some place up high where it won’t get jostled.

Over breakfast, read about what happened. The cardboard soaks up the solution (so a plastic tree, for example, wouldn’t work here), but the liquids evaporate overnight as gases. The salt can’t do this, so it is left behind. Ammonia is present because it helps the evaporation happen faster. And voila – a chemis-tree!

Crystal Tree (7)

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