How to Make Crystals From Coal

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The process of growing crystal flowers using coal as a base originates in early American society. According to The American Coal Foundation, “the making of coal flowers is a historic craft that was practiced by coal mining families in the late 1800s and early 1900s. When mining families had little money to buy decorations or purchase toys, they used common household products and coal to make beautiful crystal flowers.” The coal provides a porous material from which the crystals grow. This project provides as interesting results today as it did 200 years ago.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer
  • Shallow glass bowl
  • Charcoal briquettes (or brick pieces or small porous stones)
  • Mixing Bowl
  • 6 parts Mrs. Stewart's Liquid Bluing
  • 6 parts water
  • 8 parts salt
  • 1 part ammonia
  • Food coloring (optional)

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Break up the charcoal briquettes into roughly 1-inch chunks. Use a hammer, but don't pulverize the charcoal.

Arrange the briquettes in the glass bowl in an even layer.

Combine the Bluing, water, salt and ammonia in the mixing bowl, and mix them well. Some salt will remain in the bottom of the bowl.

Pour the combined mix over the coal pieces, including the extra salt.

Add food coloring on top of the mixture as desired. Any spots that are not colored will grow white crystals.

Sprinkle 2 tbsp. extra salt over the entire charcoal crystal bed. Wait two days.

Combine 2 tbsp. each of the Bluing, ammonia and water, and pour the mixture over the pan of charcoal. Do this again on day three.

The crystals begin growing within a few hours of the creation of the project and will fully form in two to three days up to a couple weeks.


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