Christmas Tree Science

By | December 17, 2013

Christmas Tree Science

This is one of my favorite experiments.  We did one back in August of last year and my oldest really enjoyed it, back then we just made a Magic Tree but this time I thought it would be fun to turn it into a fun Christmas Tree Science Experiment.

My little one helped this time and every  day would come into the kitchen and start yelling “TREE GROWING, TREE CROWING!”  This really turned out to be a fun Holiday Science Experiment but both girls.  The only thing we changed from the last one we did is that we only used green food color on our tree to make it look more like a Christmas tree.  I am thinking we maybe should have put the food color over all the cardboard so that it was all more green but it still looks awesome and the kids really enjoyed growing their very own Christmas Tree.

What is happening with this experiment?  The solution will be drawn up into the cardboard tree, then it will begin to evaporate (this process is sped up by using the Ammonia) .  When the solution evaporates, it leaves behind the salt as small, white crystals (which are dyed by the food coloring).  This is a good experiment to show capillary action, which is the process of a liquid being drawn up or against gravity.

Check out our CHRISTMAS and SCIENCE pintrest boards for more great ideas!


Cardboard (the back of a paper pad works great)
Small dish
3 TBS Water
1 ½ TBS Ammonia
3 TBS Bluing
3 TBS Salt
Green Food Color


Christmas Tree ScienceCut out two tree shape from cardboard, then cut out some groves out to make branches.

Now cut down the center of each one from the bottom and one from the top.

Christmas Tree ScienceAdd All your ingredients to your dish and then put some food color on the tips of the branches.
(Can you tell my little one does not like waiting her turn?)

Christmas Tree SciencePut your tree in your dish and watch it grow!

Christmas Tree ScienceAfter a couple of days your Christmas Tree will look like this!

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87 thoughts on “Christmas Tree Science

  1. Kelly

    What is the purpose of the Bluing? Also, wondering if it would work to put the green food coloring in the solution at the bottom rather than painting it onto the cardboard… Thanks!!

    1. wemadethat Post author

      Hi Kelly, The bluing is what is causing the reaction, this wont work without it. I never tried adding the color to the solution, however I don’t believe it would work because the crystals are really just the dried salt left on the cardboard after the solution evaporates. So the color would evaporate with the other liquids. The only reason they change color is because they are picking up the color that we added to the cardboard. Hope this helps!

  2. Tianna

    Fabulous experiment! I’m wondering how long this takes, do I have time to do this on Monday and have a tree for Wednesday??

    1. wemadethat Post author

      Tianna, It will have growth on Wednesday, but wont be totally full. I would suggest maybe cutting out a smaller tree from cardboard and then to speed it up you could pour some of the solution over your tree or submerge the pieces of cardboard in the solution before you put them together. That way the crystals will start to form over the whole thing a lot quicker!

  3. Julie

    This is awesome. I’m definitely pinning it, and thanks for the link to the bluing. I have never heard of it and unusual ingredients usually are enough to make me not want to do a project due to the hassle of finding them. Now that I can see a picture and know where to order it I’m all set. Thanks – Julie

  4. Cynthia

    This is so cool! My friend’s son loves to experiment – I’ll have to show her this. Thank you for linking to the In and Out of the Kitchen Link Party. Hope to see you next time.

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  38. Hannah


    I am from the uk and realy want to try this experiment but I can’t get hold of Bluing in the uk is there something else that I could use that would create the same effect ?

  39. Dolly

    We tried this with evaporated sea salt (that’s the play dough salt I had on hand) and it didn’t work

  40. Kim

    So we made our tree, and it’s /half/-crystallized, but all the liquid seems to be dried up. Can I mix up some more liquid and add it to the dish? Or will that ruin the crystals that have already formed?

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  43. Heather

    Hey there, I have never heard of bluing before. Is there an alternative ingredient like bleach that can be used in it’s place?

    1. wemadethat Post author

      Hi Heather, Unfortunately it has to be Bluing for this to work. I know it is not a common item, but it can sometimes be found in the laundry section of the supermarket or if you can’t find it there, if you click the link above it will take you to Amazon and they sell it also. Good Luck and if you need any other assistance finding it just let me know, I am always glad to help!

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  47. Kate


    Cool project.
    I have a class that is an hour long, and I wonder if crystals would start to form in that time or would it take longer? Thanks!!

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  53. cyndic

    Thanks for sharing the Christmas Tree Science. My question is how long will this tree last before falling apart? This may be a perfect activity for a school science project as long as it is durable and will hold up for a bit.

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  62. Charmaine

    I was wondering where I could find the ammonia and the Bluing? I am in Canada but live on a boarder city so I can get to the US to purchase it if need be. Thanks. Love this idea.

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    Fabulous experiment! I’m wondering how long this takes, do I have time to do this on Monday and have a tree for Wednesday??


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