This Borax snowflake experiment makes a great crystal science project, stuck at home winter activities for kids, or homemade Christmas tree ornament! It’s also a fun addition to your crystal structure formation science lessons or STEM studies for kids. These are fun snowflake crafts for adults and kids — even for winter preschool activities and kindergarten ideas.
Growing A Borax Snowflake STEM Project
This is not only a fun winter science project for kids, but these DIY snowflakes also make the most beautiful crystal snowflake ornaments for Christmas! Definitely add this to your list of kids activities. It’s one of those craft projects that we still talk about (and we still hang the snowflake ornament on our tree every year!). My daughter loved this as a science experiment.
How To Grow A Borax Crystal Snowflake
- Borax Powder Laundry Detergent
- Large Wide Mouth Glass Jar
- White Pipe Cleaners
- Straw or Pencil
- Blue food coloring
- Gloves (optional)
- Paper towels (for cleanup)
Get the free printable craft instructions below with the complete Borax snowflake activity step-by-step. KEEP SCROLLING for the Borax snowflake craft printable!
How do you make a Borax snowflake?
1. Start with a large wide-mouth jar.
Using a deep and wide jar prevents the crystals from forming on the jar instead of on the string.
The size of your snowflake will depend on the size of your jar.
TIP: A wide top of the jar will make this easier for little hands!
2. Make a pipe cleaner “snowflake” shape (aka: make your snowflake design).
Cross two of the pipe cleaner sections at the middle to form a plus sign.
Twist the pipe cleaners together at the middle.
Twist the third pipe cleaner onto the connected ones to form a star shape.
This will make your snowflake arms and is what the borax crystals will adhere to and eventually grow your snowflake!
CRAFT TIP: You can use blue pipe cleaners, too. The color pipe cleaner that you use may show through, so I would stick with white and blue (that’s what we used).
Fun Craft Tip: Try other pipecleaner shapes like a heart shape to make crystal hearts for another fun science experiment.
3. Tie twine to a straw or pencil.
Tie a long piece of twine to the middle of a straw or pencil. (Make sure your straw or pencil is long enough to sit across the mouth of the jar without falling in!)
Tie the loose end of the string / twine to one end of your pipe cleaner snowflake.
Place the straw/pencil across the mouth of the jar and let the snowflake hang into the jar.
Test the length: The snowflake should hang into the jar without it touching the sides or bottom. If the string is too long, wind it around the straw/pencil until you get the right length where it’s not touching the bottom of the container.
4. Add the Borax solution to the jar.
Carefully fill the jar with boiling water.
One tablespoon at a time, add the Borax to the boiling water, stirring after each tablespoon until all Borax has been added and dissolved. Keep stirring until the majority of the Borax detergent has been dissolved.
CRAFT TIP: If you have Borax at the bottom of the jar that hasn’t dissolved, that’s okay. Just try to dissolve as much as possible.
Add the blue food coloring. This is an optional step, but it makes the snowflake a beautiful light blue crystal color.
5. Place pipecleaner snowflake in jar.
Place pipe cleaner snowflake into the water.
Lay straw/pencil across the mouth of the jar so that the pipe cleaner snowflake is completely submerged in the water, but not touching the bottom or the sides. (You may have to move it around a bit.)
Allow jar to sit overnight undisturbed. This is when the soap crystals will form!
Check it the next morning. If you want more crystals to form, leave it in the solution longer for more crystal growth.
This method makes great ornaments or beautiful snowflakes to hang in the window!
Borax Snowflake Experiment Craft FAQs and Project Help
Before we get to the printable grow a snowflake experiment, let’s cover some common questions that go with this children’s activity.
What is the science behind borax snowflakes?
You may be wondering what is Borax and why does it work for making snowflake crystals? Borax is a chemical compound that is often used for laundry or household cleaning. It is also called sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate. Crystals are formed when molecules or ions in a solution come together in an orderly, repeating pattern. In the case of Borax snowflakes, borax (sodium borate) is a naturally occurring mineral that consists of boron, sodium, and oxygen atoms. When you dissolve borax in hot water, the borax molecules dissociate into ions (sodium ions and borate ions), creating a borax solution.
When the water cools down, something magical happens! When the Borax solution cools, it becomes supersaturated because it still contains more Borax than it can hold at the lower temperature. This excess Borax starts to come out of the solution and form solid crystals. The Borax then sticks to your pipe cleaner snowflake. These tiny Borax particles start to form beautiful crystal shapes on your pipe cleaner snowflake.
This is great to use to explain the process for a kids science project!
Is making Borax crystals safe?
Borax detergent is harmful if swallowed, so adults need to help younger kids and keep a close eye on them during this activity. Additionally, the Borax dust can irritate eyes and skin. You may want to use gloves and protective eyewear for kids activities using Borax.
Where can buy Borax?
You can buy Borax in many big box stores (like Walmart), tractor or farm supply, or drug stores. A well-known Borax brand is 20 Mule Team, which is often found in the detergent or cleaning aisles in stores.
How does the Borax Snowflake work?
Make a snowflake out of pipe cleaners. Suspend the snowflake in boiling water with Borax overnight. The Borax will form crystals, which cling to the pipe cleaner. As the crystals form on top of each other, they will cover the pipe cleaners completely and form a beautiful crystal snow flake.
How long do Borax crystals take to grow?
You should leave the Borax crystals in an undisturbed location at least overnight. This will allow the Borax time to form crystals and cling to the pipe cleaner to form the Borax crystal snowflake.
Do Borax crystals melt?
Borax crystals can melt in hot water, so be careful with your snowflake crystals when handling or storing. If you want to get rid of the Borax crystals that formed in the jar, simply place hot or boiling water into the jar and scrub out.
STORAGE TIP: If you’re making these as crystal snowflake ornaments, wrap them in wax paper and store them in a cool, dry place to reuse each year for the holiday season.
GREAT FOR A FULL SNOWFLAKE UNIT STUDY FOR SNOWFLAKE SCIENCE: Snowflakes Explained (Fun Snowflake Lesson Plans and Activities for Kids)
Here’s how to make the best crystal snowflakes step-by-step printable directions…
How To Grow A Snowflake with Borax Detergent
These are great science project ideas because you can easily make the recipe for multiple kids and it’s interesting for a wide variety of age ranges for STEM lessons! (Be sure you help out little hands with this crystal snowflake project!)
MORE SNOWFLAKE FUN: Once you grow snowflake crystals, use a magnifying glass to look them on the sides of the jar!
IMPORTANT CRAFT TIP FOR YOUR BORAX SNOWFLAKES: Be sure to use a large glass jar wide enough and deep enough so that your snowflake doesn’t touch the bottom or sides. If you don’t, the crystals can grow and completely overtake the jar and you’ll just have a (beautiful) dense jar of crystals that swallowed up your snowflake!
I wish I’d taken more pictures of the finished snowflake, but I forgot!
- White pipe cleaners
- Straw or Pencil
- Large Wide Mouth Glass Jar
- 6 Tablespoons Borax
- 2 Cups Boiling water
- Blue food coloring
- Gloves (optional)
- Find a straw or pencil that you can lay across the mouth of the jar without it falling in.
- Cut the pipe cleaner into three equal lengths. Cross two of the pipe cleaner sections at the middle to form an + sign. Twist the pipe cleaners together at the middle. Twist the third pipe cleaner onto the connected ones to form a "star" (or asterisk) shape. Test that your snowflake fits inside of the jar without touching the sides. Set aside.
- Tie a long piece of twine to the middle of a straw or pencil.
- Tie the loose end of the twine to one "arm" of your pipe cleaner snowflake.
- Place the straw/pencil across the mouth of the jar and let the snowflake hang into the jar. The snowflake should hang into the jar without it touching the sides or bottom. If the string is too long, wind it around the straw/pencil until you get the right length.
- Carefully fill the jar with boiling water.
- One tablespoon at a time, add the Borax to the boiling water. Stir after each tablespoon to help dissolved, until all Borax has been added and dissolved. (There may be some remaining Borax at the bottom. That's OK.)
- Drop 2-3 drops of blue food coloring into the water. Stir.
- Carefully place pipe cleaner snowflake into the water. Lay straw/pencil across the mouth of the jar so that the snowflake is completely submerged in the water, but not touching the bottom or the sides.
- Allow jar to sit overnight (undisturbed) while crystals form. (Or a little longer if you want more crystals to form.)
- Carefully lift straw/pencil and remove crystal snowflake. Cut twine at desired length. Loop a ribbon for a Christmas tree ornament or hang in window as a sun catcher.
CRAFT AND READ: Best Winter Books For Kids To Go With This STEM Activity
These books are great children’s reading companions for your how to grow a Borax crystal snowflake project. You can make a complete winter lesson plan or unit studies from this!
Fun Snowflake Books For Kids
- Snowflake Bentley (one of our favorite snowflake books for studying real snowflakes!)
- The Story Of Snow: The Science Of Winter’s Wonder
- Snowflakes In Photographs by WA Bentley
- Ten Sparkly Snowflakes (Twinkly Countdown Fun!)
- Snow By Uri Shulevitz
More Snow Themed Projects Kids Love!
Snow Ideas For Kids To Try:
- How To Make A Snow Lantern With Snowballs
- Paint The Snow Activity For Kids
- Make Chocolate Snow Cream
- Make a Cute Pet Snowman Craft for Kids
We’d love to see your finished snow flakes crafts!