100 Days of Science #40-- Growing a Crystal Garden

I have had a science experiment idea for quite some time and knew that I just needed to buy some charcoal briquettes but I really didn't want to buy a big bag for just a few pieces of charcoal. 

We found some nice small bags at our local Dollar General a few weeks ago and headed to home to whip up our own crystal garden.

After reading a few different websites on how to grow a crystal garden we settled on this method using equal parts of ammonia, bluing, table salt, water, and food coloring (though we used liquid water colors because we were all out of food coloring).

First we sprinkled our briquettes on a rimmed plate (though this was a mistake and we should have put them in a bowl!).

Then we mixed up our solution.

We used 4 Tablespoons each:

liquid bluing
table salt

We squirted some watercolors on the briquettes in a few different colors.  Then poured our solution over and round them... then we read that the charcoal should be submerged 1/2 way in the solution so we quickly swapped everything over to some disposable bowls.

Then we just had to sit and wait for crystals to form.

We read that crystals will form faster in the beginning if they have a light breeze helping to evaporate the liquid so we set up a small table fan on the lowest setting.

We also made sure to keep our crystal garden out of direct sunlight since the crystals that form are quite fragile.

Within an hour or so we had small crystals forming.

And they just kept on growing.

Two days into the experiment and we mixed up some more solution this time only using 2 Tablespoons each of ammonia, bluing, water, and table salt.  Then we carefully re-filled our bowls being very careful not to drip on our crystals.

Within a few hours we had different types of crystals growing on the sides of the bowl!

However, the crystals on our briquettes did continue to grow too.

But we were equally as fascinated with these rounded crystals on the edges.  Alec blew on them and they crumbled.  They felt very soft to the touch too (we only touched the ones that crumbled off knowing we could destroy them if we tried to feel them).

In under a week we decided our experiment was done and we could not have been happier with how many crystals we observed.

Have you ever tried growing crystals?

Others in this series:
2.  Field Trip to the Ecotarium 
3.  Learning About Air Molecules


  1. That is an awesome experiment! I am going to have to try this with my nieces and nephews

  2. What a fun experiment! My little science loving son would love this!!

  3. This is too cool! I always love to see what you guys are making. Thank you so much for sharing with us at the Whimsical Wednesdays Link Party!


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