borax snowflakes

Discussion in 'Supporting Chemistry' started by Christine Broadbent, Nov 28, 2019.

  1. Christine Broadbent

    Christine Broadbent magic maiden


    Does anyone have a reliable recipe for making borax crystal snowflakes.

    We're having a 'Christmas' themed science club for the next three weeks, and any recipes I can find on the internet are 'american' and not very accurate.(No offence to anyone from USA intended!)

    Thank You
  2. Read the hazcard. anyone pregnant or planning to be?

    Christine Broadbent likes this.
  3. There's a worksheet in the Salter's chemistry club book but it only says hot borax solution - no strengths given :( The instructions list hot borax solution, a tall glass beaker or jam jar, 3 white pipe cleaners, white string scissors, pencil and heat mat. Food colouring is optional
    The pipe cleaners are twisted together in the centre to make a 6 sided star shape - it needs to fit inside the jar/beaker. The string is attached to the pipe cleaners and suspended over the jar using the pencil. The pipe cleaners need to hang freely and be covered by the borax. The jar then sits on the mat and hot borax added to it. Needs to sit for 24 hours.
    Christine Broadbent likes this.
  4. Christine Broadbent

    Christine Broadbent magic maiden

    Thanks, that's the method I intend to use, just wasn't sure of conc and volume of borax solution needed
  5. Techitude

    Techitude COMMITTEE

  6. Christine,

    Look at the CLEAPSS hazcard for borax

    'Making ‘snowflakes’ (crystallisation):

    To avoid the use of borax, see alternative activity in Snow scene crystals.'

    Alternative without borax is CLEAPSS GL 131- Snow scene crystals

    Hope you have access to CLEAPSS
    Christine Broadbent likes this.
  7. Christine Broadbent

    Christine Broadbent magic maiden

    Yes thanks, I do have access to CLEAPSS
  8. Christine Broadbent

    Christine Broadbent magic maiden

  9. May I suggest using potassium aluminium sulfate (alum) instead of borax. Works just as well and is much safer. We are making Christmas ornaments using pipe cleaners, attaching them with a string to a wooden splint so they can be suspended in a saturated solution of alum. I use 70g of alum per approximately 200mL of water (enough to almost cover a 250mL beaker). Make the solution by bringing it to a boil until all the alum dissolves and then suspend the ornament inside. Let it cool slowly and crystals should form within 24-48 hours. I'll attach images to give you an idea:

    setup.jpg Result.jpg

    The students can take them home once they are dried. Do not throw away the saturated alum solution afterwards. It can be recycled, just add about 2-3 teaspoons of alum per beaker, bring to the boil as before and you're good to go.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
  10. Very nice Emil. I say that you too are in the Chruistmas mood.:D:D:D
  11. Where's the red colour come from?
  12. Ahh different coloured pipe cleaners can be interwoven together. We got some really beautiful effects and ornaments, sorry for the bad pic quality:

    Attached Files:

    Peter Sigsworth likes this.
  13. makes sense, thanks
  14. Christine Broadbent

    Christine Broadbent magic maiden

    Thank you everyone, we used borax in the end and it worked very well.