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    Crystal Snowflake Ornaments

    Kids, learn how to cover a paper snowflake with crystals to make a glittering crystal snowflake decoration!  You will crystallize borax onto homemade paper snowflakes, in any size you like. You will need:  round paper coffee filters, borax, water, scissors, and food coloring (optional). 

    Please note:  All chemicals and experiments can entail an element of risk, and no experiments should be performed without proper adult supervision.

    1. Cut a paper snowflake (or other shape) from the coffee filter.  Go to this link  http://chemistry.about.com/b/2008/12/21/cut-out-science-decorations.htm for actual snowflake paper cut-out shapes.
    2. Have an adult partner prepare your crystal solution by stirring 3 tablespoons of borax into 1 cup of very hot water.  It's okay if there is a little undissolved borax. Add a drop of food coloring, if you want colored snowflake ornaments.
    3. Place the paper snowflake onto a plate or saucer. Have your adult partner carefully pour the crystal solution over the snowflake, making sure it is completely covered.  Try to leave any undissolved borax behind in the cup.
    4. Allow crystals to grow on the snowflake until you are satisfied with their size. Small crystals take about an hour to form. You can allow the crystals to grow overnight if you want larger crystals.
    5. Pour off the crystal solution and carefully dislodge the crystal snowflake from the plate. This is best done with a fingernail or butter knife. You can remove any crystals that are stuck in the holes of the snowflake.
    6. Allow the crystal snowflake to fully dry before removing it and hanging it.

    Borax is a natural mineral with a chemical formula Na2B4O7 • 10H2O. The formal name for borax is sodium tetraborate decahydrate, but it’s more commonly known as sodium borate. It is one of the most important boron compounds.  Borax is found in laundry booster, certain hand soaps and in some toothpastes. You can find it as 20 Mule Team Borax (pure borax) in the laundry detergent aisle of stores.

    Borax has many uses on its own, plus it is an ingredient in other products. Here are some uses of borax powder and pure borax in water:

    Borax is an ingredient in several other products, such as: buffer solutions, flame retardants, teeth bleaching products, glass, ceramics and pottery, and enamel glazes.

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    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    kcarrado@anl.gov
    January 2013

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    References:
    Anne Marie Helmenstine at About.com: Chemistry
    http://chemistry.about.com/od/holidayhowtos/a/Crystal-Snowflake-Ornaments.htm