Magic Tree

By | August 31, 2012

Did you ever make these magic trees as a kid?  I remember buying a kit, the kit came with a small cardboard tree and a power solution you mixed with water and you could grow salt crystals on your tree.  Well a few weeks ago I ran across a recipe to make these at home.  Well you know I just had to do this with my girls.  I was hoping they would think it was just as cool as I did when I was little.

When I went to go buy the couple ingredients I needed I did find it a little difficult to find the Bluing.  It comes in a small blue bottle and is usually in with the laundry detergent.  I had to go to a couple stores before I found it but since I live more in the country than in town I am not surprised the first store did not have it.Once I had all my ingredients my daughter and I set out to make our tree.  This is when I learned that there is a right and wrong way to make your cardboard tree.  We ended up having to redo our tree three times before we found the right way.  But that gives me the chance to let you know how NOT to do it.

The first no no when making your tree is cutting it out so it has a small trunk.  The base of the tree needs to be big to support the weight of the cardboard as it gets wet and starts to grow crystals.  So the best thing to do is too cut your cardboard in a triangle to the base is BIG.

The Second no no is making your tree too big.  I thought the bigger the better right?  I mean if the tree is bigger that mean more pretty salt crystals… NO that means the tree will fall over due to the weight of said salt crystals.  So be careful when cutting your tree instead of using one whole sheet of cardboard (I used the back of a pack of construction paper) for one side of your tree only use half of it for each piece.

Okay now that we got the bad stuff out of the way, here is the good.  My daughter really really loved this project.  She thought it was cool that the tree actually grew salt crystals.  I don’t think she really believed me when I told her it would.  And it brought back my childhood memories of doing this with my mom and sister even though my sister does not remember doing this; how can you not remember something so COOL?

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.

I hope you all have as much fun with this one as we did, well more fun since now you know how to do it without having to give it three tires.

Cardboard (the back of a paper pad works great)
Small dish
3 TBS Water
1 ½ TBS Ammonia
3 TBS Bluing
3 TBS Salt
Food Color
 Cut 2 triangle shape out of your cardboard
Cut groves out of your triangle shapes to make tree branches
Make a cut down the center of each tree one on the bottom and one on the top
Put your cardboard pieces together to make your tree
  Using your food coloring dye each branch different colors
  Mix your Water, Ammonia, Bluing, and Salt in your dish
 Place your Tree in the center of your dish with the liquid solution in it
In just a few hours your salt crystals will start to grow.  In 24 to 36 hours your tree will be full

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21 thoughts on “Magic Tree

  1. malia

    Holy Cow… that is cool! I am in awe of you for figuring this out. My kids would flip for this! Malia

  2. Mary Ryan

    OH my goodness! I cannot wait to try this!!! My daughter and I did three store bought ones last year. I think we’ll have a whole salt tree forest this year, homemade!


  3. Carrie

    What a neat project!! I love it!! We will definitely have to give this a try. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

  4. sharannmohr

    We made one of these this year, too. My mom-in-law bought it in kit form, I had no idea you could make your own. Thanks for sharing the “recipe.” :D

    1. Tracey Kite

      Hi Tiffanie, yes you do find it in the laundry isle. If you have issues finding it in your store you can always get it on-line too.

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