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Crystal Painting

Using some chemistry and household materials, we can create paintings that dry into crystals!

Materials needed:

  • Water

  • Clear, heatproof container

  • Epsom salts, borax, or table salt (one of)

  • Spoon

  • Food coloring or watercolor paints

  • Muffin tin or small containers

  • Paintbrush

  • Paper

  • Space for paintings to dry out of the way

  • Adult supervision


  • Bring the water to just near boiling and transfer it into the clear heatproof container

  • Mix one spoon of your chosen salt/borax into the boiling water until all of it has dissolved.

  • Repeat one spoon at a time, and stirring until all of it has dissolved until no more will dissolve. You've created a super-saturated solution!


  • Portion your supersaturated solution into as many cups/containers as you want to create colors plus one for water to clean your brush.

  • Add your coloring to the tins like you would to create different paint colors.

  • Paint a picture on your paper but remember, the thicker you lay the paint, the more crystals will form as it dries.

  • With your picture finished, set it out of the way to dry for at least 24 hours

  • After a full day, check on your painting to see what crystals have formed!

Reflect on this activity and extend it:

  • Does creating a thicker or thinner layer of pain change the crystals that form?

  • Do the different salts/borax create different crystals? Try all of them to see what happens!

What's Happening:

Our supersaturated solution is filled with salt/borax--more than the water can hold. As the paint dries and the water begins to evaporate, the salt or borax begins to recrystallize on the paper around bumps on the surface or salt/borax that didn't fully dissolve.

You can download a printer-friendly version of this activity below!

Crystal Painting
Download PDF • 75KB

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