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Pumpkin crystals, a fun Halloween science experiment

Learn how to grow pumpkin shaped crystals using materials you already have around the house.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — It is almost Halloween so this weeks experiment is naturally fall themed. We're going to make pumpkin crystals using some everyday household items.

Here's what you need:

  • Orange/brown pipe cleaners
  • Pencils or popsicle sticks
  • Borax
  • Water
  • Glass jars

The first thing to do is make a pumpkin out of your pipe cleaners. Be creative with this step! The only requirement is that the pumpkin has a large stem that can hang on the pencil or popsicle stick and hang into the jar.

Parents, we'll need your help for the next few steps. You want to boil enough water to fill your jars. For my two jars, I boiled 3 cups of water.

Once the water gets to a boil, you can take if off the burner. Now you want to dissolve borax in the water to create a saturated solution. Generally, you will need about 3 to 4 tablespoons of borax for every cup of water. Slowly mix the borax in until the water cannot dissolve anymore. You'll know you got to that point when the borax starts to sit at the bottom of the container.

Finally, pour the mixture into the jar and place the pumpkin hanging on the pencil on top. 

Credit: WLTX

Now, you wait! Leave the pumpkins undisturbed for at least 24 hours and watch the crystals form. The longer you let it sit, the more crystals you will see.

Now, why do the crystals form in this experiment. It all has to do with the water solution.

When you head the water up, it's molecules move faster and farther apart, allowing for more solute to dissolve. When the water cools down, the molecules slow down and get closer, meaning it cannot hold as much of the solute, or borax, anymore.

That's when the borax starts to form crystals on the pipe cleaner! The more borax that comes out of the solution, the larger the crystals you will see.