If you are looking for a fun Valentine's Day craft, grow a borax crystal heart. Borax is a common laundry product that whitens, brightens and freshens clothes. But when mixed with water in a concentrated solution, it can form beautiful crystals on pipe cleaners or any textured surface.
Begin by mixing 3 tablespoons of borax per 1 cup of hot water. You will need a deep plastic or glass container that will allow the base structure to be covered by the solution.
I used a one quart container with 9 tablespoons of borax and 3 cups of hot water. Stir the borax solution until all particles are dissolved. If you want the crystals to be colored, rather than clear, add some food coloring to the water mixture.
Bend a pipe cleaner into your desired shape. It should be narrow enough to slip inside the container without touching the sides. It should also not touch the bottom or the crystals will not form evenly. The color of the pipe cleaner will show though the crystals slightly. You can use white, pink or red for a traditional Valentine's Heart.
Use a pencil or craft stick and a bit of wire to suspend the shape in the borax solution.
Let the pipe cleaner form remain in the solution for at least eight hours or overnight. Do not disturb. The crystals will continue to build until the solution cools completely.
When you remove the heart from the solution, place on a paper towel to dry.
If you don't have as many crystals as you'd like on the heart, you can "re-dip" to grow more. To reuse the solution, simply heat in the microwave and stir until all particles are dissolved. Add back your heart form. You can use the solution over and over until no particles settle out.
Use the finished crystal heart in the windows as sun catchers. Or, use to decorate a holiday tree or package. The crystals will last for years if kept dry.
If you would like to learn about the science behind growing crystals, read this article.
Specific questions? Just ask here.