Mom’s A Geek: Exploring Science And Making Salt Crystals

What You’ll Need:

  • A Glass Jar
  • A String
  • A Paperclip
  • A Pencil/Pen/Stick
  • Water (You’ll be boiling it, so those supplies are necessary too)
  • A Butt Ton Of Salt
  • Patience


  1. Cut the string, tie the paperclip to one end and the pen/pencil/stick to the other. Put aside for now.
  2. Boil about a cup of water, this doesn’t need to be precise.
  3. Pour the boiled water into the glass jar.
  4. SLOWLY stir in the salt. Add more in small increments, until the salt stops dissolving in the water. Utilize patience here.
  5. Place the paperclip in the water, roll the string around the pen/pencil/stick until the paperclip doesn’t touch the bottom of the jar. Paperclip should still be completely submerged in the water.
  6. Wait. More patience needed here. After 48 hours, I noticed we weren’t growing any more crystals and removed the paper clip from the water to see what would happen. Nothing did. Try leaving yours in! (And then, tell me what happens, please.)
Some Questions To Ask:
  • How long do you think it will take for crystals to form?
  • How big do you think the crystals will get?
  • What if we didn’t use salt? Do you think crystals would still grow?

My mother always kept books chock full of activities around when I was a kid. When my sister and I got bored, she’d instruct us to try out a new paper craft or experiment. The experiments were always my favorite, while my sister gravitated more towards the crafts.

My eldest son just recently enjoyed a week long break from Kindergarten and he and I had spent a morning discussing how intriguing he finds science to be. I started searching for ways to encourage and foster that love and curiosity; we tried some ‘floating and sinking’ activities. Went around the house with magnets, taking notes on which surfaces they stuck to. We ‘scienced’ everything!

When I (finally) recalled this experiment from my youth, I knew I had to share it with my Minions!

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Here’s the initial set up with the ‘dipping aparatus’, 24 hours later!

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Also 24 hours later.

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A few days later, 24 hours after removing the paperclip from the salted water. I expected more, but that’s okay!
{Pardon my chipped nail polish.}

This simple experiment piqued their curiosity and our discussions segued into multiple subjects; they wanted to find out more about how the crystals were formed. They wondered what they would look like under a magnifying glass, and then a microscope (as we don’t own these, we had to Google pictures, but now my poor husband has been inundated by an increase of “We need a microscope!” arguments). It even led us to briefly discuss the Periodic Table of the Elements!

I don’t know how long my children will consider learning to be fun and exciting, so I intend to take full advantage of their interest. 🙂