Christmas is a time of bright colorful gifts, fun and positive emotions. It is a time when you don’t want to think about studying and boring lessons. However, let’s recollect some chemistry bases this Christmas. Why? Artificial snow, crystal snowflakes, snow globe, non-fading Christmas tree, interesting handmade gifts and bright colorful decorations. All these you can make using chemistry, its secrets and magic. If you want to amaze your friend and relatives read the article and let’s do winter science.
What do you imagine when you think about Christmas? Snow and Christmas tree? Sure! Both of these are the symbols of winter holidays. And we can make these holidays last much longer. First, make your Christmas tree stay green for a long time providing it with necessary nutrients. You need:
- 1 gallon of water
- 2 cups of corn syrup or 4 teaspoons of sugar
- 4 teaspoons of chlorine bleach
- 4 teaspoons of lemon juice
These ingredients make water softer and acidic facilitating its absorbance by the tree. Besides, these compounds serve as disinfectants and impair the growth of bacteria, fungi and algae that may be toxic for the tree. Also, you can drop a penny there: copper can serve as a fungicide and acidifier. So, mix all ingredients and store your Christmas tree in this solution, regularly changing it.
Now, it’s high time we made snow. Of course, you can buy or rent snow-making machine producing snow from the water. However, if you are not going to make up a ski slope, you can use simple chemical polymer sodium polyacrylate ([C3H3NaO2]n). This polymer possesses a great ability of absorbing water. You can use several teaspoons of dry sodium polyacrylate and add water to reach desired wetness. You will get non-toxic snow-like gel. You can add salt to make it drier or freeze it to make it cold. Though, you will not produce enough artificial snow to make a snowman, but you can easily use these amounts to decorate your Christmas tree or room.
Next, let’s make a snowglobe as a handmade gift. Here, you can use egg shell and glitter to create snow-like structures. However, if you need more chemistry magic you can use benzoic acid (C6H5COOH). Though this compound is safe, you should use protective gloves due to possible irritating effect. So, heat 1g of benzoic acid in 75ml of water. In these conditions, benzoic acid dissolves. However, cooling to room temperature makes it precipitate and form snowflakes-like structures. Now, you need to take a glass jar, put any small plastic toy, add water with precipitating benzoic acid and close the jar with the lid using glue if necessary. Here you are!
If you want to decorate your house with amazing snowflakes, make beautiful borax crystal. You will need:
- white pipe cleaners
- borax (sodium borate, Na2B4O7)
- boiling water
- food coloring
First, you have to make a snowflake shape using pipe cleaners. So, cut them into smaller parts and join them together to form a snowflake. Then, tie the string to the end of the snowflake. Another end of the string should be tied to the pencil and put over a jar to place the snowflake inside. Add boiling water and borax into the jar with regular mixing. You should add three 3 tablespoons of borax per cup of water. The snowflake shape must be covered with borax solution. Then, leave snowflake in the jar overnight. In the morning, you’ll find your amazing snowflake: borax will form crystals on the surface of the pipe cleaners. You can use food coloring to make your snowflake more bright. Furthermore, you can make your snowflakes glow in the dark. How? You can add fluorescent dyes to your solution. Find out how to do it in our previous article.
And finally, let’s use pine cones to produce a magic light. You will need boric acid (H3BO3), ethanol and pine cones. Dissolve boric acid in water or ethanol, soak your pine cones in this solution and let it dry. After this, light up your pine cones. You will see magical green and red fire produced by burning boric acid.
Using these simple household chemicals, materials and your free time you can make wonderful decorations and fill your holidays with pleasure of experimenting. However, remember about the rules of safety for yourself and people surrounding you. Though chemicals described here (sodium polyacrylate, benzoic acid, borax, boric acid and other) are non-toxic and are used in food technologies, don’t drink or eat them. Really, don’t. Wash your hands thoroughly after these or other experiments. And don’t play with fire too much. You don’t want to be on YouTube in a Christmas Failures video, do you? So, remember about safety rules, find time for creative ideas, use your chemistry knowledge, and you will spend amazing Christmas holidays.