Crystal Ornaments From Borax: How To Make At Home

I created a naturalistic looking crystal from borax without a lot of cost or time to decorate my tree.  Follow this simple recipe to make these beautiful crystal ornaments overnight.

Crystal ornaments made with borax in less than 24 hours.

 

Supplies

(TBSP or 1/4 cup measure not shown)

  1. Borax (Found with the laundry detergent)
  2. Large glass jar, or steal borrow your husband’s pint glass
  3. Straw, dowel, piece of wire, bamboo skewer basically something to attach across the top of the glass
  4. Paper coated florist wire (or cotton string)
  5. Hot Water (not the kind you get in)
  6. Miscellaneous items to crystallize
You’re looking at a total of $7 for borax and some wire.  Not bad since this would give you over 25 four to five inch ornaments.  Even more if you wanted to make smaller ones.

Step 1: Assemble your ornament frame

Warning vague instructions ahead entitled:  “How to make a frame for your crystals to grow on” or “I can’t tell you how to be creative.”
I tried a variety of materials and basically anything that will soak up a little water works as a fine frame for the crystals. Cotton string, paper, even synthetic fibers worked well.  I ended up liking the coated floral wire because it allowed me to bend all kinds of shapes, was light weight, and made a nice hook for the tree.  As a bonus I had some laying around.  I also became pretty partial to these shiny pom-poms.  They add a little sparkle through the crystal, make a nice round shape and I hadn’t figured out a craft to use them with before now.
Basically go wild.  You can see here I shoved some wire through the pom-poms, bent a wonky snowflake, and made a spiral.  This part is really up to your imagination.  BTW, this is a very kid friendly project as well so let them have a go at making some shapes, just have an adult supervise or mix the borax solution.

Step 2: Suspend Your Shapes

You really don’t want to know how many pint glasses we have.

If you use wire then just bend it around the straw.  Fibers and cotton thread can easily be tied into a small loop that will slide off the straw making a perfect place for an ornament hook.
Important note: make sure the ornament frames are suspended in the middle of the glass without touching the sides.  Crystals will also grow on the inside of the glass and you don’t want the ornament to attach itself to the bottom. We are making ornaments not stalagmites.

Step 3: Mix The Solution

Okay this is a SUPER-Technical recipe.  (insert sarcasm here)

Not complete till it is clear!

Mix one cup of water with 1/4 cup borax.  Heat the water and stir till it is clear.  (As a side note pint glasses take a little less than 2 cups of solution)

Equivalent is 8 ounces of water to 2 ounces of borax.

Couple of notes: Trust me, if you put a little more or a little less you are still going to end up with crystals.  Just try to get around 3 tbsp of borax per cup minimum.  I used fairly hard tap water so obviously it takes a lot to mess this recipe up.  I heated the water on the stove-top and the microwave.  The only difference I could see was making sure the solution was fully dissolved.  The cloudier the solution then smaller crystals formed.  Which, is not necessarily a bad thing, I just happened to want big chunky crystals for my project.

Step 4: The Hard Part; Waiting!

Pour the solution in the glass. DO NOT POUR BOILING LIQUID IN A COLD GLASS!  I never got my solution that hot but if you do you are asking for a mess.  Let the solution cool otherwise it could shatter the glass.

Go for a clearer solution. Do as I say not as I do.

Crystals will start to form in a couple of hours.  For best results leave it overnight.  I experimented and left my ornaments for different times.  After about 24 hours there really wasn’t much more growth.  The only way to get a lot more crystals to grow is to dip it in fresh solution, which, I never found necessary (and I am lazy).  When done, just pull them out and dry on a towel.  They are pretty sturdy so no need to fret about being super gentle when drying.

The End Result

Natural Crystal Ornaments

Clean Up

Don’t let your husband yourself freak out when you find a bunch of crystals stuck to his pint glasses the glass.  Just pour a little warm water in and they come right out of the bottom.  In fact, you can even take these crystals and once dry scatter them like glitter.

Other Options

As I stated at the beginning I tried a variety of solutions. I also made Alum crystals and Sugar Crystals.  Okay… I tried to make sugar crystals (rock candy) and ended up making some crystals and mostly mold.  The alum crystals were quite pretty but when I figured the cost it just didn’t make sense.  Both the amount of alum and sugar needed made the cost quite high and for a result that was worse or equal to the borax crystals.  Beyond that, the borax crystallized in less than 24 hours making it fast to make a bunch of ornaments.  I wanted clear-white crystals so I didn’t try it, but I bet you could color them with food coloring mixed in the solution.

Want to see more holiday crafts?  Click on the following:

Home-made and Removable Window Frosting

Snow/Flocking from Soap

Evergreen Wreath

Evergreen Garland

14 thoughts on “Crystal Ornaments From Borax: How To Make At Home

  1. I was going to make these with my chemistry class, but our data sheet says “do not let them take them home as BORAX is toxic by inhalation and ingestion” I was just kind of worried about that (and worried animals or siblings would try to eat them) and wondered if you sealed them in any way? Mod Podge?

    Also, the way borax forms crystals, you cannot color them with food coloring, it won’t take it up…but pipe cleaners work well and add color.

  2. Epsom salts works well, too. I use pipe cleaners and food coloring with my students. Large crystals grow overnight. I’ve had ornaments for years, but keep them away from moisture.

    • I read about epsom salt too. I’ve got to try it as well. Thanks for the idea, have to grab some pipe cleaners next time I’m out.

  3. I do this with my Chemistry class at this time of year. My students love to make these ornaments and take them home to put on their christmas tree. Very easy and inexpensive.

    • Wish I had you to contact when I thought up this idea! You likely would have saved me a bunch of time trying various techniques, ornament frames, etc… Thanks for dropping by.

    • I’m not sure I would count myself a Christmas crafting genius. We’ll go with Christmas crafting adept instead :). Thanks for dropping by.

  4. Your ornaments turned out so beautiful! What a great idea. I have made both salt and sugar crystals with my kids and they both take forever. I had no idea you could make crystals with Borax. I will have to try this. Thanks so much for the tutorial!

    • I was surprised by how fast these went. I had found a few more recipes on salt and epsom salt crystals I might give a go. Glad to know they take a bit longer. Let me know if you try it and have any questions.

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