How to grow Alum crystals (Aluminium Potassium Sulphate)

Growing crystals is fun and very rewarding. It does take time and a lot of patience but the final results can be amazing.

The secret to quality crystals is working with clean equipment and good quality Alum or Aluminium Potassium Sulphate. The process involves using a saturated solution to firstly create a single seed crystal and then growing this seed crystal as large as you like.

Please note: As you will be working with hot water it is important that children are supervised at all times.

Ingredients needed to grow your own Alum crystals:

  • Water
  • Aluminium potassium sulphate 12 water
  • 2 clean jars
  • Fishing line
  • A pencil or stiff wire
  • Tablespoon
  • A cloth
  • Gloves

Instructions on how to Alum crystals:

Stage 1 – Producing a saturated solution.

  • Using gloves add alum to a jar containing water and stir until dissolved.
  • Keep adding more alum and mixing until no more will dissolve.
  • There should be some undissolved alum settled at the bottom of the jar.
  • Allow the jar to sit for an hour so that all undissolved solid settles to the bottom of the jar.
  • Carefully transfer only the liquid to a second clean jar and seal it for the next processes.

Stage 2 – Producing the seed crystal.

  • Pour some of the saturated solution into a clean jar.
  • Cover the jar with a cloth and place in a dark place (cupboard etc).
  • A few crystal should start forming at the bottom of the jar. (see notes)
  • Allow them  to continue to grow until they are large enough to handle easily.
  • Remove the crystals from the jar and keep dry for using in the next process.
  • Seed crystals that you wish to keep for later should be wrapped in tissue.

Stage 3 – Growing the large crystals.

  • Take the original jar of saturated alum solution.
  • Tie one of the seed crystals to a length of fishing line.
  • Tie the other end of the line to a pencil or some stiff wire.
  • Immerse the seed crystal into the jar making sure that it is not touching the sides or the base.
  • Place the pencil or wire across the top of the jar and fix in position with a bit of tape.
  • Cover the jar with a cloth and set aside to allow the crystal to grow.
  • Keep out of direct sunlight and away from heaters, radiators etc.
  • As the crystal grows the level of the saturated solution will drop.
  • you can top up the solution by making more of it (repeat stage 1) and adding carefully so as to avoid disturbing the growing crystal.
  • You can continue doing this for days, weeks, months or even years – it just depends on how big a crystal you want to grow.
  • When you are happy with the finished crystal remove it and store it somewhere dry.

Notes:

Alum is the short name for aluminium potassium sulphate dodecahydrate (12 water)

For the cleanest crystals distilled water should be use instead of tap water .

It is very important that during all processes you keep the containers covered to prevent dust getting in which will spoil the crystals.

If during the seed growing process you notice that the complete surface of the base is covered in tiny crystals this means that the jar was not clean and you will need to start this process again.

Where to buy quality Alum

How to grow copper sulphate crystals

Growing crystals is fun and very rewarding. It does take time and a lot of patience but the final results can be amazing.

The secret to quality crystals is working with clean equipment and good quality copper sulphate. The process involves using a saturated solution to firstly create a single seed crystal and then growing this seed crystal as large as you like.

Please note: As you will be working with hot water it is important that children are supervised at all times.

Ingredients needed to grow your own copper sulphate crystals:

  • Water
  • copper sulphate
  • 2 clean jars
  • Fishing line
  • A pencil or stiff wire
  • Tablespoon
  • A cloth
  • Gloves

Instructions on how to copper sulphate crystals:

Stage 1 – Producing a saturated solution.

  • Using gloves add copper sulphate to a jar containing water and stir until dissolved.
  • Keep adding more copper sulphate and mixing until no more will dissolve.
  • There should be some undissolved copper sulfate settled at the bottom of the jar.
  • Allow the jar to sit for an hour so that all undissolved solid settles to the bottom of the jar.
  • Carefully transfer only the liquid to a second clean jar and seal it for the next processes.

Stage 2 – Producing the seed crystal.

  • Pour some of the saturated solution into a clean jar.
  • Cover the jar with a cloth and place in a dark place (cupboard etc).
  • A few crystal should start forming at the bottom of the jar. (see notes)
  • Allow them  to continue to grow until they are large enough to handle easily.
  • Remove the crystals from the jar and keep dry for using in the next process.
  • Seed crystals that you wish to keep for later should be wrapped in tissue.

Stage 3 – Growing the large crystals.

  • Take the original jar of saturated copper sulphate solution.
  • Tie one of the seed crystals to a length of fishing line.
  • Tie the other end of the line to a pencil or some stiff wire.
  • Immerse the seed crystal into the jar making sure that it is not touching the sides or the base.
  • Place the pencil or wire across the top of the jar and fix in position with a bit of tape.
  • Cover the jar with a cloth and set aside to allow the crystal to grow.
  • Keep out of direct sunlight and away from heaters, radiators etc.
  • As the crystal grows the level of the saturated solution will drop.
  • you can top up the solution by making more of it (repeat stage 1) and adding carefully so as to avoid disturbing the growing crystal.
  • You can continue doing this for days, weeks, months or even years – it just depends on how big a crystal you want to grow.
  • When you are happy with the finished crystal remove it and store it somewhere dry.

Notes:

For the cleanest crystals distilled water should be use instead of tap water .

It is very important that during all processes you keep the containers covered to prevent dust getting in which will spoil the crystals.

If during the seed growing process you notice that the complete surface of the base is covered in tiny crystals this means that the jar was not clean and you will need to start this process again.

Where to buy quality Copper Sulphate

How to grow borax crystal snowflakes and other shapes

Making snowflakes, stars, reindeers, virtually any shape you like with borax is fun and easy to do. It is great for making your own decorations for christmas to hang on the christmas tree or around the house. Why not give to friends and family as presents.  How about giving your best friend their name in borax crystals.

Please note: As borax is dangerous if swallowed and you will be working with hot water it is important that children are supervised at all times.

Ingredients needed to make your own borax crystals:

  • Water
  • Borax decahydrate
  • Glass Jar or bowl
  • Pipe cleaners (white or coloured)
  • Blue Food colouring
  • A pencil
  • Tablespoon
  • string
  • Gloves

Where to buy Borax online UK

Instructions on how to make borax crystal shapes:

  • Firstly make the shape you want with the pipe cleaner (see notes below)
  • Tie some string to the pipe cleaner shape and at the other end attach the string to a pencil or other rod which is wider than the top of the jar or bowl.
  • Fill the jar or bowl with boiling water
  • Wearing gloves carefully add 1 tablespoon of borax powder and stir until dissolved.
  • Keep adding 1 tablespoon at a time and mixing until dissolved.
  • When no more borax will dissolve and some sits at the bottom then stop adding more.
  • Add a few  drops of  blue food colouring to colour if you wish and mix thoroughly.
  • Slowly drop the snowflake or other shape into the jar ensuring that it is fully immersed and does not touch the bottom.
  • Fix it in position with the pencil resting across the top of the jar.
  • Leave overnight and the crystals will grow on the surface of the pipe cleaners.
  • Hang the shapes using thread.

Notes:

For every cupful of water you will require approximately 3 tablespoons of Borax.

To make the snowflake take three equal lengths of pipe cleaners. Twist them together at the centre to form a six sided shape.

For more complicated shapes you can use templates like cookie cutters and simply bend the pipecleaners around the shape.

Borax crystals cannot be coloured although blue dye will add a blue hue to them.

Using coloured pipe cleaners will produce coloured shapes.

Where to buy borax

Where to buy boric acid powder

How to make slime with Borax

Making slime with borax is fun and easy to do. As borax is dangerous if swallowed it is important that children are supervised at all times.

Ingredients needed to make your own slime:

  • Water
  • Borax decahydrate
  • PVA glue (white craft glue)
  • 2 bowls
  • Food colouring
  • A plastic teaspoon
  • Plastic resealable food bag
  • Gloves

Instructions on how to make slime:

  • Wearing gloves carefully add 1 teaspoon of borax powder and 1 cupful of warm water in one bowl.
  • Stir continually until all the borax has dissolved and the solution is clear.
  • In the second bowl add 1/2 cupful of PVA and 1/2 cupful of water and mix thoroughly
  • Add 2 drops of  food colouring to the PVA glue and mix thoroughly.
  • Slowly add the glue mix to the borax solution with continual stirring.
  • The slime will start to form a ball. Keep stirring slowly.
  • Take the ball of slime out of the bowl leaving excess water behind.
  • Knead the ball bewteen your hands and it will get less sticky.
  • Wash the ball with water and it is ready to play with.
  • Store the ball in the plasic resealable bag and it will keep for a couple of weeks.

Where to buy borax online

Where to buy boric acid powder

Industrial uses for Borax

Borax, or sodium borate,  a naturally occurring mineral compound is best known as a laundry booster and water softener but it has many industrial applications.

Where to buy borax

***Borax to prevent brown heart in turnips***

Borax is used to protect turnips against brown heart. it should be applied as a solution of 15g per litre of water and applied at a rate of 1 litre per 10 sq m.

***Borax in cosmetics***

Borax is used in cosmetics, toiletries and pharmaceuticals. It is also used as a crosslinking agent to emulsify waxes and
other paraffins used as a base for lotions, creams and ointments. How to prepare an emulsion: heat the oils in a double boiler. Dissolve the borax in hot water. Add the borax solution slowly to the hot oil, constantly stirring in one direction. Keep stirring until the creamy white emulsion has formed.

***Borax as a buffering agent***

Dissolved in water, Borax hydrolyzes to give a mildly alkaline solution and can be used to neutralise acids. It can be used in combination with strong alkilies to produce chemical compounds of lower pH. The relatively constant pH of Borax (approx pH 9.2) Dedahydrate solutions makes it an excellent buffering agent.

***Borax in adhesives***

Borax Decahydrate is part of the starch adhesive formulation for corrugated paper and paperboard, and is a peptising agent in the manufacture of casein-based and dextrin-based adhesives. It greatly improves the tack and green strength of the adhesive by crosslinking conjugated hydroxyl groups.

***Borax in metallurgy***

Borax Decahydrate has the ability to dissolve metal oxides and is exploited in the recovery of metals such as brass, copper, lead and zinc from scrap or smelting slag. In Iron metallurgy, Borax Decahydrate is used as a flux to prevent oxidation at the surface of the molten iron. In other metal working processes like welding, brazing, and soldering, Borax is used to cover the metal surfaces. This prevents any oxidation occuring by excuding air and moisture contact. It also can be used as a cleaning agent.

***Borax for corrosion prevention***

Borax finds many uses as a corrosion inhibitor in aqueous sytems as it can prevent oxidation of ferrous / Iron metals. Typical applications are in engine coolants, antifreezes and water treatments. Borax is highly soluble in MEG / ethylene glycol and can neutralise acids that are produced from the decomposition of the MEG prevention acidic corrosion of the metal surface.

***Other industrial uses for borax***

Borax is used: In the extraction of gold from metals. As a flame retardant and for putting out small fires without the risks of flare-up. A carrier for herbicides. As a stbiliser and bonding agent for specialist abrasives. As a neutraliser and carrier in the production of metal wire.

Where to buy borax online uk

Where to buy boric acid powder UK

How to clean with Borax

Borax, or sodium borate, is a naturally occurring mineral compound best known as a laundry booster and water softener. Borax is also excellent as a multi-purpose household cleaner with many uses throughout your house including craft projects. Borax is not flammable and is not reactive. It can be mixed with most other cleaning agents, including chlorine bleach.

Where to buy borax

1. Rub out heavy sink stains

Get rid of those stubborn stains — even rust — in your stain-less steel or porcelain sink. Make a paste of 1 cup borax and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Put some of the paste on a cloth or sponge and rub it into the stain, then rinse with running warm water. The stain should wash away with the paste.

2. Remove Rug and Carpet Stains

Remove stubborn stains from rugs and carpets. Thoroughly dampen the area, then rub in some borax. Let the area dry, then vacuum or blot it with a solution of equal parts vinegar and soapy water and let dry. Repeat if necessary. Don’t forget to first test the procedure on an inconspicuous corner of the rug or on a carpet scrap before applying it to the stain.

3. Eliminate urine odour on mattresses

Toilet training can be a rough experience for all the parties involved. If your child has an “accident” in bed, here’s how to get rid of any lingering smell: Dampen the area, then rub in some borax. Let it dry, then vacuum up the powder.

4. Unblock your drain.

Borax is a safe drain opener and a great alternative to those expensive store-bought drain cleaners. Just mix a cup of Borax with some boiling water and empty it down the drain. Any grease stuck in your drain that is causing the clog will melt away.

5. Keep away weeds and ants

Get the jump on those weeds that grow in the cracks of the concrete outside your house by sprinkling borax into all the crevices where you’ve seen weeds grow in the past. It will kill them off before they have a chance to take root. When applied around the foundation of your home, it will also keep ants and other six-legged intruders from entering your house. But be very careful when applying borax — it is toxic to plants.

6. Clean windows and mirrors

Want to get windows and mirrors spotless and streakless? Wash them with a clean sponge dipped in 2 tablespoons borax dissolved in 3 cups water.

7. Smelly bin?

Sprinkle some Borax into the bottoms of your garbage bin to keep it smelling fresh.

8. Help! My cat smells bad and has fleas!

Borax can help! To control the odor of your cat’s litter box try mixing Borax in with the cat litter. Borax can also kill fleas in your home, simply sprinkle Borax on your carpet and let it set for an hour or more then vacuum it away.

9. Soften Hard Water

If you have hard water add a bit of Borax to your bath to soften it. Hard water makes soaps and shampoos less effective.

And last but not least

10. Remove mildew from you household and car fabric

To remove mildew from upholstery and other fabrics, soak a sponge in a solution of 1/2 cup borax dissolved in 2 cups hot water, and rub it into the affected areas. Let it soak in for several hours until the stain disappears, then rinse well. To remove mildew from clothing, soak it in a solution of 2 cups borax in 2 quarts (2 litres) water.

There are many more uses of Borax, but we feel that these 10 are the most commonly used and certainly enough to get you going. So what are you waiting for, go and buy borax today and start saving money on all those other expensive cleaning products you no longer need!

Where to buy Borax online UK

Where to buy boric acid UK

Uses for Copper Sulphate Pentahydrate

Copper(II) sulfate (CuSO4), is a common salt of copper. Copper sulfate exists as a series of compounds that differ in their degree of hydration. The anhydrous form is a pale green or gray-white powder, while the hydrated form is bright blue. The archaic name for copper(II) sulfate is “blue vitriol” or “bluestone”. The most common form of copper sulphate is in the pentahydrate form and there are over 100 manufacturers producing around 200,000 tonnes per annum. Approximately three-quarters of copper sulphate pentahydrate is used in agriculture, principally as a fungicide, but also for treating copper-deficient soils.

How to use copper sulfate for killing Moss:

Mix 5–8g per litre of water. apply this solution at a rate of 1 litre per 5m2.

How to use copper sulfate for treating algae in ponds, fish tanks and aquariums:

Dissolve 30g of copper sulfate and 30g of citric acid in 1 litre of water. For each 5 litres of pond water add 1 drop of the made up solution (this equates to 0.15ppm). Do not allow levels of copper to exceed 0.20 ppm.

How to use copper sulfate for controlling tree roots in drains & sewers

CLICK HERE to read an article on how to control tree roots in drains etc

Other uses for copper sulfate

Several chemical tests utilize copper sulfate as an indicator. In a flame test its copper ions emit a deep blue-green light. It is used in fehlings solution and Benedicts solution to test for reducing sugars, which reduce the soluble blue copper(II) sulfate to insoluble red copper oxide. Copper(II) sulfate is also used in the Biuret reagent to test for proteins.

Copper sulfate is also used to test blood for anemia. A drop of the patient’s blood is dropped into a beaker of copper sulfate solution: if it sinks within a certain time, then the patient has sufficient haemogloblin levels and is not anemic. If the blood floats or sinks too slowly, then the patient is iron-deficient and may be anemic.

Copper sulfate is a commonly included chemical in children’s che­mistry sets and is often used in high school crystal growing and copper plating experiments. However due to its toxicity, it is not recommended for small children.

Copper sulfate is often used to demonstrate an exothermic reaction, in which steel wool or magnesium ribbon is placed in an aqueous solution of CuSO4.

It is used in school chemistry courses to demonstrate the principle of mineral hydration. The pentahydrate form, which is blue, is heated, turning the copper sulfate into the anhydrous form which is white, while the water that was present in the pentahydrate form evaporates. When water is then added to the anhydrous compound, it turns back into the pentahydrate form, regaining its blue colour. It can be used to plate metals with copper.

It finds use in agriculture as a fungicide. Mixed with lime it is called Bordeaux mixture, which is used to control fungus on plant leaves, grapes and other berries. Normally it is used as a 1% solution (100g copper sulfate & 100g Lime per 10 litres of water)

Its use as a herbicide is not agricultural, but instead for control of invasive exotic aquatic plants and the roots of other invasive plants near various pipes that contain water.

Other applications include:

  • Production of copper fungicides.
  • Manufacture of Insecticides.
  • Addition of copper to copper deficient soil.
  • Soil sterilization.
  • Preparation of Bordeaux and Burgundy mixtures.
  • Mixed with ammonium carbonate to produce “Chestnut compound”.
  • Preservative for pulp, wood and wooden structures.
  • As a disinfectant, antiseptic, germicide and bacteriostat.
  • Inhibits the growth of bacteria like Escherichia coli.
  • Treatment of parasitic infections in aquarium fish.
  • Removal of snails in aquariums.
  • For the control and prevention of foot rot in cattle and sheep.
  • As a growth stimulant for pigs and chickens.
  • For the control and treatment of scum on lakes and ponds.
  • As a molluscicide.
  • As a preservative in glues.
  • Control of bloom caused by algae in pools, ponds, reservoirs, spas etc
  • Purification of gases.
  • Mordant in vegetable dying industry.
  • Laundry marking ink.
  • As a dye for hair.
  • Green colouration in fireworks and in flame tests.
  • Preparation of diazo and aniline black dyes.
  • Preparation of catalysts.
  • Preparation of other copper compounds.
  • As an electrolyte in plating and refining industries.
  • As a flotation agent in mining.
  • In the purification of butadiene.
  • In the purification of petroleum oil.
  • Etching agent in engraving especially zinc in the intaglio printmaking.
  • In glass and ceramics industry to colour.
  • Production of rayon.
  • For blueing steel and the colouring of zinc and aluminium.
  • For the control of concrete setting.
  • Control and protection against lichen, fungus and moulds.
  • In the preparation of Fehlings solution, Biuret Reagent and Benedicts solution.
  • In the laboratory to demonstrate exothermic reactions where steel wool or magnesium and placed in an aqueous solution of copper sulphate.

 

Where to buy copper sulphate online UK