by Victoria Graves
Initial Research on Crystals
What is a Crystal?
A piece of a homogeneous solid substance having a naturally geometrically regular form with symmetrically arranged plane faces.
Adjective Clear and transparent like crystal.
noun. cut glass - glass
adjective. crystalline - clear - pellucid - limpid
This is the Google definition for what a crystal is in scientific terms but to simplify it; a crystal is a solid substance that is formed by the earth's naturally occuring chemicals mixing together and then crystalising due to being in a warm place where the liquids can evaporate.
What Substances Can Be Used to Make Crystals?
Crystals can be formed by many different substaces which would effect the way they form, what colour they are and what shape they would take.
The following list is of a few different materials that can be used to make crystals;
- Potassium Alum
- Ammonium Chloride
- Borax (Sodium Borate)
- Calcium Chloride
- Sodium Nitrate
- Cupric (Copper) Acetate
- Cuperic (Copper) Sulfate
- Ferrous Sulfate
- Sodium Carbonate
- Potash alum
Variants of Crystal Growth
As a crystal grows, whichever way it forms in those first few days, that design is the way it will stay for the continuation of it's growth. It's the chemical elements in a crystal which tell it what shape it will grow into, for example if you made a crystal out of sugar and a crystal out of salt they would both be different because they are both made out of different chemicals. A lot of crystals might seem to look alike at first glance, but what elements the crystal is made out of will make it a unique shape and color. Even the same element can make different crystals, though, based on conditions such as temperature and light and what other elements are around.
Different Types of Crystals
There are many different types of crystals, some more famous that others because they are both quite beautiful and most likely to be used in different types of jewelry.
The following are names of different, well known crystals;
- Cat's Eye
- Lapis Lazuli
Optimum Conditions For Crystal Growth
The optimum conditions for crystal growth is a warm place so that the fluid from the crystal solution can evaporate and crystalize (obviously forming the crystal) also you wouldn't want the crystal solution to be disturbed too much, otherwise the crystal won't form as quickly as you would probably want it to.
Crystal Growing Plan
Tuesday (Creating Crystal Solution)
- two 250ml beakers
- a filter funnel and filter paper
- a source of hot water
- a stiring rod
- satula or plastic spoon
- some fine nylon thread
- a watch-glass or paper hat to fit on one of the beakers
- a ruler
- use of a smart phone or digital camera to record observations
Method (Tuesday 17/09/13)
- Place approximately 25 g of potash alum in a beaker (250 ml or bigger) and add approximately 170 ml of hot water.
- Stir the mixture until all the crystals have dissolved.
- Filter the warm solution through a filter funnel (in which filter paper has been inserted) into another clean beaker
- Cover the beaker of solution with the watch glass or fresh filter paper and set aside in a cool sheltered place and allow it to stand undisturbed overnight.
Method (Wednesday 18/09/13)
- Observe the beaker of solution. The bottom should have become covered with a layer of smallish crystals which formed spontaneously as the solution cooled.
- Carefully pour off the clear solution above the crystals into a clean beaker and set it aside for later, leaving the crystals behind in the other beaker.
- Let it stand overnight again and observe the formation of crystals
- If there were no dicernable crystals formed in the beaker, re-do Tuesday 17/09/13 method.
Method (Thursday 19/09/13)
- From the bed of crystals, one good symmetrical crystal or group of crystals needs to be selected to act as “seed” for your big crystal.
- Using a plastic spoon, spatula, tongs or tweezers, transfer the selected crystal to the beaker containing the decanted solution, trying to place it centrally in the beaker.
- A good technique to promote uniform growth is to suspend the crystal with a nylon thread tied round a stirring rod or pencil resting on the rim of the beaker.
- Take a picture (if possible) of the crystal, preferably close to a ruler so that you can measure its size, and mark the level of the liquid in the beaker. Record the date in your diary.
- Cover the solution with a loose-fitting paper hat that permits water to evaporate slowly whilst keeping out dust.
- Allow the solution to stand in a draft free location, not in direct sunlight or near a heater.
How The Crystal Grew Throughout The Experiment
The growth of the crystal throughout the first week of the holidays was very promising though not how I thought the crystal should be growing. The crystal was developing like large grains of sugar that formed a ring at the bottom of my jar due to the base being convex. All these tiny grains were fused together but still resembled sugar. throughout the rest of the ongoing experiment, unfortunately, the crystal didn't grow any further as can be seen in the images above. Even though, throughout the holidays the water level continued to drop, the crystal had no ferther development.
Recorded Liquid Levels in Crystals Container Throughout the Experiment.
Week Week 1 Week 2 Week 3
Water Level 2 cm 1.5 cm 0.8 cm
A Table to Summarize the Size Growth of the Crystal
Unfortunately due to minimal growth throughout this experiment, there was no visible growth to be recorded, the possible contributors to this fact was that maybe it didn't have enough sunlight or the jar was moved to much initally.
Artistic Photo of the Final Crystal
Sadly due to the fact that the jar I was using had a smaller neck than the base, we had to break the crystal to remove it. I tried to break it in half but it shattered into various sized fragments, I chose the one with the original crystal in it, which was also the largest piece. The following are the photos I took.
Final Dimentions for End Result
When attempting to remove the crystal from the jar, it shattered as I previously mentioned but I tried piecing it together, and got a rough approximation of around 4-5cms.