Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Grow Your Own Geode

Need a good project to keep the kids busy this summer? This may or may not be the route to go then.

Andrea said, "I happened upon this pin a few months back and thought it might be a fun summer science project to do with my 2 boys (they have to come up with and make a science project every year)."

The Original Pin

"The directions looked pretty simple, but the comments below the article led me believe that this probably wouldn't work.  And I usually don't even bother trying stuff that looks like it might not work because, frankly, I don't have the time or money to waste.  I had decided that perhaps we should try something different, but my older son really wanted to try this.  I gave in, but before starting I warned him that the "geodes" probably wouldn't turn out as nice as the ones in the photo, and in fact, we might get nothing at all."
"We followed the instructions, but the only kind of alum powder that I was able to get was the kind sold at grocery stores.  I saw at the bottom of the website that the author insists that you have to use Potassium Aluminum Sulfate and that you have to special order it.  However, I live in Japan and that's simple not an option, so we had to make due with what was available."
"The directions say to leave the eggshells in the liquid solution for 12 to 15 hours for perfect geodes; however, after 15 hours nothing had happened.  After one day nothing had happened.  After 3 days nothing had happened.  We ended up leaving our eggshells in the solution for over 2 weeks, basically until all the liquid had completely dried up.  We did get crystals, but they were really small, and we only got relatively decent crystals in 3 of the 11 shells.  But 3 is enough to turn in for the science project."

The Pinstrosity

"The original article was posted on the Martha Stewart website, and as we all know, Martha is infamous for using ingredients and materials in her recipes and projects that are not readily available; it seems like something in every recipe or project requires a special order to some esoteric shop.  Her recipes are not tested so there is a huge margin for failure.  This project wasn't a total bust, but I wouldn't recommend it simply because of the potential for great disappointment, especially since this is supposed to be a project for children."

The idea of growing your own crystals captivates many kids. I know it captivated me. Want a "grow your own crystals" project that doesn't take off-the-wall ingredients? Try this one: 

You'll need:
*1 cup water
*2 cups sugar
*Flavorings and food coloring as desired
A jar (a quart canning jar works awesome)
either -A pencil and some thick thread
         -or a skewer and two pencils or clothes pins

-Tie the thread to the center of the pencil and dangle the thread into the jar. Roll the thread up on the pencil until the thread is about a finger's width above the bottom. If you are using a skewer, stand it in the jar and use the clothespins or the two pencils to keep it standing upright in the center.
-In a saucepan, boil the water and then add the sugar. Stir until completely dissolved. Add any flavoring or food coloring at this point. Remove from heat and let it cool for just a few minutes.
-Carefully pour the sugar water into the jar.
-Place the jar somewhere where it will not be disturbed for about 2 weeks. 

-Sugar crystals should be visible on the string/stick within 24 hours (if not, pour your syrup back in a pot, add another 1/2 c. to cup of sugar and reboil. 
-Let the sugar crystals form as long as you want and now you have rock candy! Kid's will love watching the crystals grow, especially if they get to eat it in the end.

Cameron and I made rock candy for all our siblings one year for Christmas when we were super broke and we even got a kick out of watching the crystals grow. It's fun! Give it a try!

*Added note...this is basically my pancake syrup recipe, only I don't let it form crystals. 1 c. water, 2 c. sugar, 1 cap of mapeline, and 1/2-1 tsp of vanilla flavoring. This is my favorite syrup! 


  1. I'd gotten my ex a 'grow your own geode' kit and it had all the stuff needed, except you had to provide ammonia and a couple other things we weren't thrilled about using, so we never did the kit. And don't bother with anything Martha Stewart recommends. Her craft supplies are substandard as it is, nevermind all the additional items you need that are hard to find.

  2. This is one we also wanted to do, but couldn't because that one ingredient couldn't be gotten locally!

  3. Alum is almost always available, it's often in with the spices and is used for pickling, so sometimes it's also kept with the caning jars and jelly making supplies. Beyond that it's used in marbling so it's also usually available at craft and art supply stores. And at less than $10 a pound it's pretty affordable.
    I suppose you could also use one of those crystal deodorant sticks, grind enough for seeding the shell and then melt the rest in boiling water (which would probably take ages), not food grade, but still a viable option.


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