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Freshly Baked Science

Experiment: Crystal Candy Canes

14th December 2018

Christmas decorations can be pretty expensive, so why not make your own? We have a fun science experiment for you and the final product can be hung on your Christmas tree… talk about two birds with one stone! This crystal candy cane is so easy but so effective.

You will need:

  • Borax (we got ours here)

  • Red, Green and White Pipe Cleaners

  • Kettle

  • Water

  • Glass/Jar with a wide opening

  • String

  • Chopstick/Pencil

  • Ribbon (optional)

Method:

  1. Take your pipe cleaners and twist them together (we used two white, a red and a green)

  2. Shape the pipe cleaners into a candy cane shape by curling one end over

  3. Tie a length of string into a loop and hook the candy cane on one end and loop the other end onto the chopstick

  4. Boil the kettle

  5. Put 6tbsp of borax into the glass jar and stir in the boiling water

  6. Keep stirring until all the borax has dissolved

  7. Dip the candy cane into the solution, with the chopstick across the opening of the jar

  8. Make sure the candy cane is fully submerged and isn’t touching the bottom of the jar

  9. Put the jar aside and leave overnight (or for 8 hours)

  10. Take your candy cane out and leave to drip dry

  11. Carefully take the string off and tie your ribbon on

  12. Hang on your Christmas tree!

 

These candy canes work as when the borax dissolves in water, the borax joins to the water molecules. Because the water is hot, the water molecules are further apart, allowing them more space to hold onto the borax. When the water cools, the water molecules get closer and can no longer hold onto the same amount of borax, which is called supersaturation. The extra borax forms crystals, which clings onto the pipe cleaner. The slower the water cools down, the bigger the crystals!

If you try this experiment, send us your pictures via email (hannah@wonkmagazine.co.uk) or social media (@wonkscience) with the hashtag #STEMintoChristmas!

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