Crystal Pine Tree

This cool crystal pine tree is a fun and easy way to experiment with crystal growth. The crystals are grown on a sturdy paper base, and appear overnight! We chose a pine tree shape and green food coloring to create a festive tree, but the shape you create is up to you! Almost any shape will work as long as it has plenty of sharp points for the crystals to grow on, so feel free to experiment and come up with your amazing growing crystal designs!

Watch our instructional video here.

  1. Ages: 5 - 16

  2. 2+ hours

  3. A little messy

Step-by-step tutorial

  • Step 1

    Draw a tree shape on your paper board. Make sure it has nice points on the ends of the branches - that's where the crystals will start growing!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 1

  • Step 2

    Cut the tree out, then the tree shape two more times. Cut these pieces out, so you end up with three tree shapes total.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 2

  • Step 3

    Cut slots down the middle of your tree pieces. One piece should have a slot that goes halfway up from the bottom, and the other two should have slots that go halfway down from the top.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 3

  • Step 4

    Fold the two tree shapes with the top slots at 90 degree angles.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 4

  • Step 5

    Slot the pieces together to form a 3D tree.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 5

  • Step 6

    Combine 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons bluing, 1 tablespoon ammonia, and several drops of green food coloring to create your crystal mixture. Stir until the salt is dissolved.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 6

  • Step 7

    Add drops of green food coloring to each of the tips of your tree. This will help to make sure the crystals are nice and green.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 7

  • Step 8

    Place your tree in the dish and pour the crystal mixture over the top of the tree.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 8

  • Step 9

    Let your tree sit for at least 24 hours. Crystals should form on the tips of the tree!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 9

  • Photo reference of how to complete step 10

    Learn moreMagnifying graphic

    What's going on?

    Your crystals grow because of a few different scientific phenomena! First, your paper tree sucks up your crystal solution due to something called capillary action. This is the same system that trees and other plants use to to bring water up from their roots up to their branches.

    Once your tree has been saturated with the liquid, the liquid starts to evaporate from the branches. This leaves behind small particles of salt and bluing, which form the crystals you see!

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