Sugar Crystal Ornaments
Trim the tree or decorate your house with Sugar Crystal Ornaments made of Imperial Sugar and Dixie Crystals.
Sugar is delicious, sweet and… perfect for creating colorful, beautiful ornaments? This holiday season, grab a bag of Imperial Sugar or Dixie Crystals granulated sugar and mix yourself a supersaturated solution. Don’t know how to make a supersaturated solution? We’ll teach you! Once you’ve learned the science behind Sugar Crystal Ornaments, your tree, house, or classroom will have some of the most awesome (and scientific) ornaments around.
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- Granulated sugar (we found the best results when using Imperial Sugar and Dixie Crystals)
- Pipe cleaners
- Food coloring
- Glass jar
- Parchment paper
- Adult supervision
- Pour 3 cups of sugar in to a microwave safe container.
- Add 1 cup of water to the sugar and stir the container.
- Microwave your solution on high for 2 minutes. You can also use a stovetop to heat the solution, just make sure to heat the solution until it is boiling. Use caution removing the solution from the microwave and stir it, again.
- Microwave the solution for an additional 2 minutes on high, stirring afterwards.
- Add several drops of food coloring and stir it into the solution.
- Transfer the solution into a smaller glass jar.
- Allow the solution to cool to room temperature.
- Create an ornament shape using pipe cleaners.
- Wrap the end of the pipe cleaner around the center of a pencil.
- Dip your ornament into the solution.
- Lay your ornament on a sheet of parchment paper to dry.
- Place the dried ornament back into the solution carefully, avoiding the side and bottom of the jar.
- Allow the solution and ornament to sit for at least one week.
- Pull the ornament out of the jar and let it dry on the parchment paper.
How Does It Work?
A delicious ornament is ready for decorating… or eating, and we have science to thank, but something doesn’t add up. Putting 3 cups of sugar into 1 cup of water seems ridiculous, but what you’re creating is called a supersaturated solution. A supersaturated solution means that there is more solute (the sugar) than the solvent (the water) can usually hold.
If you want to bypass how much sugar dissolves in the water, you need to heat it up. Water molecules are able to heat until they boil before they become a gas. Once you reach the boiling point, you’re able to dissolve as much sugar into the water as possible, due to the microscopic expansion of the water molecules. Some supersaturated solutions are remarkably unstable. The addition of anything to the solution can trigger a reaction. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with your sugar solution.
Dipping your ornament into the solution and allowing it to dry creates a small layer of sugar crystals around the pipe cleaner. These crystals dissolve in the solution, but the pipe cleaner gives them a surface they can use to recrystallize. This small layer is a better, easier surface for the sugar crystals to crystallize on, once the ornament is dipped back into the solution. Over the course of a week, you can see just how much sugar is crystallized on your ornament… and there’s a ton more sugar still dissolved!