Crystal Growing Guide
Helpful advice for growing single crystals can be found at the following:
Step-by-step video tutorial by Dr. Jason Benedict on the Benedict Research Labs YouTube Channel.
Wisconsin Crystal Growing Contest run by Dr. Ilia Guzei
Great examples of alum single crystals - Winners of the Canadian Crystal Growing Contest!
Or follow the instructions below.
Expert Crystal Growing Guide:
1. What you'll need
-100 g of starting material (alum or copper sulfate)
-Large container (e.g. large cup, 400 mL beaker)
2. Making a supersaturated solution
A supersaturated solution is a key component of growing a crystal. a supersaturated solution is a solution which has more solute (stuff dissolved in the solution) in it than it would typically be able to hold at that particular temperature. To make a supersaturated solution put too much of your starting material in solution than will dissolve, then heat the solution up until all the solid dissolves. When your solution cools down it will be SUPERsaturated.
3. Growing a seed crystal
Make a supersaturated solution then stare in amazement as it creates seed crystals of your material as it cools and the solution becomes too saturated. Alternately, you can grow a seed crystal from a saturated solution by letting the solvent slowly evaporate out of the container. This can lead to better seed crystals, which in turn gives you better final crystals in the end.
4. Growing your final crystal
Either suspend your seed crystal in a supersaturated solution and let it cool, or suspend it in a saturated solution and let the solvent evaporate. Some of the material will form new crystals, and some will add to the size of your seed crystal. Repeat this as many times as you want to grow a larger and larger crystal.
Try different methods of suspending the seed crystals to see which works best for you!