Salt Crystal Leaves is an outstanding fall-themed science experiment for young kids. Imitate the frost on the colorful leaves by dipping real leaves or pipe cleaners shaped like leaves into salty water. The crystals can take a few days to form – so plan ahead!
- 3 pipe cleaners or leaves cut from fabric. You can also use dried fall leaves if you wish.
- 1 box of salt. You will use A LOT of salt, so don’t worry about buying too much.
- 3 Clothespins
- 3 Mason jars (1 mason jar per leaf)
- A pot for boiling water.
- 6 cups of water (2 cups per mason jar)
- Paper towels
What Mystery Are We Solving?
Why does salt water turn to crystals on the leaves?
Adults should boil the water and pour the salty water into the mason jars or supervise kids to avoid them burning themselves by spilling the hot water. Assist young kids with immersing the leaves into the water-filled mason jars.
- Gather fall leaves or shape leaves with a pipe cleaner or cut leave shapes from fabric.
- Ensure leaves have long stems to hang inside the mason jar. Tie yarn to short-stemmed leaves.
- Boil the water in the pot.
- Turn off the heat.
- Add the salt. (The secret is lots of salt)
- Stir the water so that the salt dissolves. Continue to add salt until the water is saturated with salt. The salt doesn’t dissolve anymore and forms a sheet of salt on top of the water.
- Pour the hot salty water into the mason jars.
- Carefully hang one leaf inside the jar without touching the sides or bottom of the mason jar.
- Use the clothespin to hang the leaves in the jar.
- Place the jars in a sunny area and leave for a minimum of two days, preferably four days to a week.
- Remove the leaves and dry them with a paper towel.
What Just Happened Here?
Heated water molecules spread apart allowing salt crystals to saturate the water. Enough salt was added to the water to form a supersaturated solution. The water evaporates, and the Na and Cl salt atoms bond together forming crystals. Salt crystals always form cubed crystals.