Catawba County News

Let's Grow Charcoal Crystals

Let's Grow Charcoal Crystals

Published: July 31, 2018

If you’re a rock hound or have been mesmerized by rock formations in caverns – or even if you’ve marveled at the intricate beauty of a geode – you’ll want to learn how to make dazzling crystals with just a few basic ingredients.

We forget sometimes that the cleansers and household materials tucked in our pantries and beneath our kitchen sinks are more than just powders or liquids. They’re chemistry in the making – safe to handle and intriguing to manipulate. Kids can make slime, for instance, with just some white glue, baking soda, and contact lens solution.

This upcoming workshop at the library will demonstrate how run-of-the-mill charcoal briquettes can serve as a solid base for a miniature forest of crystals – or something resembling a coral reef. Essentially, the task involves coaxing the crystals from a solution of salt and bluing (and ammonia for the best effect), but since nature typically finds its own way, the project is mostly about setting up an optimal environment for that to happen.

If you’d like for your child to participate in this fun STEAM program, which provides a tantalizing lesson in earth science, call 828.428.2712 to register him or her. While the results aren’t blink-and-you’ll-miss-it instantaneous, the crystal-forming happens quickly enough to provide plenty of gratification. Even better, the colorful crystal garden can be maintained and rejuvenated over time, so it’s not a throw-away project. This is one that can keep them occupied for quite a while.

We’ll gather on Saturday, August 11 at 11 am at the Maiden Branch Library.