Mrs. Stewart’s Magic Crystal Garden
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WHAT YOU NEED:
- 5 charcoal briquettes
- 2-quart glass bowl
- clean and empty glass jar
- 1 tablespoon ammonia
- 6 tablespoons salt
- 6 tablespoons Mrs. Stewart’s Liquid Bluing (from grocery store, or call 1-800-325-7785, or visit http://www.mrsstewart.com)
- 2 tablespoons water
- food coloring
WHAT TO DO:
1. Break up the charcoal briquets into 1-inch chunks with the hammer and place the pieces in the bottom of the bowl.
2. In the jar, mix the ammonia, salt, bluing, and water. Mix well.
3. Pour the mixture over the charcoal in the bowl.
4. Sprinkle a few drops of food coloring over each piece of charcoal.
5. Let the bowl sit undisturbed in a safe place for seventy-two hours.
WHAT HAPPENS: Fluffy, fragile crystals form on top of the charcoal, and some climb up the sides of the bowl. To keep the crystals growing, add another batch of ammonia, salt, bluing, and water.
WHY IT WORKS: As the ammonia speeds up the evaporation of the water, the blue ion particles in the bluing and the salt get carried up into the porous charcoal, where the salt crystallizes around the blue particles as nuclei. These crystals are porous, like a sponge, and the liquid below continues to move into the openings and evaporate, leaving layers of crystals.