Growing crystals is a popular science fair project that teaches students about crystal formation, evaporation and saturation. Usually, a saturated solution is made and then allowed to evaporate to form molecular structures in the form of crystals. Growing crystals using traditional methods can take several weeks. You can expedite the process by using several different techniques and ingredients. Generally, crystals that are made in a couple of hours are finer and less resilient than crystals formed over the course of several weeks.
Make crystals using salt instead of sugar as salt crystallizes faster. Fill your jar or glass 3/4 full with water. Place the water in the pot and bring it to a boil. Pour the water into the glass until it is 1/2 full.
Mix 1 tbsp. salt into the water at a time until no more salt will dissolve (usually about 1/2 cup). Tie the sting around the pencil and cut it so that it hangs down into the glass, but does not touch the bottom.
Place your jar in a warm, dry place so that the water evaporates faster. Boiling the water and placing the jar or glass in a warm place will speed up the formation of crystals.
Epsom Salt Crystals
Utilize Epsom salts instead of table salt to form crystals quickly. These crystals are much finer than the salt crystals. Pour 1/2 cup of Epsom salt into a 1/2 cup of hot water from the faucet.
Leave the water to run until it is as hot as it will get, but don't boil it. Stir in the Epsom salts. There should still be some Epsom salts on the bottom of the glass.
Place the glass into the refrigerator. In 3 hours, the glass will be filled with fine crystals.
Washing Soda Crystals
Use a clean glass container (a dirty container will provide a surface for the crystals to grow on). Place two cups of water and 1/2 cup of washing soda (available from supermarkets) into a pot and heat to simmer.
Pour the water and washing soda into a glass container. Cover the glass container with plastic wrap so that evaporation cannot take place. Allow the solution to cool for four hours. Sprinkle some washing soda on a pipe cleaner to provide a surface for the crystals to grow on.
Wrap one end of a pipe cleaner around a pencil and lower it into the glass container. The pipe cleaner must not touch the bottom. In 20 minutes, the glass container will be filled with crystals.
Supervise younger children who are using the stove or working with hot water.