We see crystals every day in the form of salt, sugar, gemstones, and snowflakes.. Crystals are prized for their beauty in gemstones and valued for their utility in many electronic products. Some people believe crystals have spiritual and healing qualities, as well. Their orderly, repeating patterns are a marvel of nature and chemistry.
Types of Crystals
Crystals can form in many shapes, from simple cubic structures to hexagonal to double pyramids to tall spires, with up to 10 sides or more. Some are not symmetrical from one side to the other. The shape of the crystal structure is determined by its chemical components and its chemical bonds. Sometimes, the crystalline structure carries over into the liquid state and becomes a liquid crystal used often in current technology.
Quartz is a crystal that many people know. It grows in six-sided columns and can come in a range of colors, depending on the chemical impurities in it. The amethyst gemstone is a type of quartz with chemicals in it that give it a rich purple color. Table salt is a crystal that forms from two chemicals, sodium and chloride, that come together in a cube-shaped crystalline structure. Epsom salts, used in healing, are made from magnesium and sulphur and form a spiky, crystal shape.
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Where Crystals Come From
Natural crystals are dug out of the ground, where the earth’s temperature and pressure cause them to form. Many crystals are also created in laboratories under controlled conditions for specific purposes.
Uses for Crystals
Quartz crystals have a natural property called pietzoelectricity, an ability to generate an electrical field, which makes them very useful in radio and video equipment. Silicon crystals are used in making the chips that power our computers and the photovoltaic cells used in solar technology. Crystals are often cut and polished into gemstones used in jewelry. Crystals are often used as decorative objects and focal points for meditation and healing practices.
Make Your Own Crystals
You can grow your own crystals at home. You will need a heat-resistant glass jar, a measuring cup, ½ cup salt, 1 cup boiling water, a pencil, a paperclip, cotton string, a spoon, and a paper towel.
Tie one end of the string to the pencil and the other end to the paperclip. Place the pencil across the top of the jar. The string should just barely let the paperclip touch the bottom. Boil 1 cup of water and pour it into the jar. Add ½ cup of salt to the water, one teaspoon at a time. Stir each teaspoon in the water until it dissolves. When you find a bit of salt collecting at the bottom of the jar, you can stop adding more. This means the solution is “supersaturate.” Put the string and paperclip into the jar with the pencil across the top and cover with the paper towel. After two days, you will see many crystals forming along the paperclip and the string.