Make Colorful Crystals from Coal Activity

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Updated on Apr 11, 2016

Coal is for so much more than just grilling and Christmas stockings—it can be used to create beautiful gems! Sparkling diamonds are made naturally when coal is pressurized for many years. In this earth science activity, your child will use chemicals to create crystals from coal.

What You Need:

  • 2 tbsps. ammonia
  • 2 tbsps. salt
  • 4 tbsps. liquid bluing
  • Glass jar
  • Spoon (disposable)
  • 8-10 charcoal briquettes
  • Plastic plate (disposable)
  • Food coloring
  • Gloves (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Help your child stir together the ammonia, salt and liquid bluing together in the glass jar. Avoid breathing in the ammonia fumes.
  2. Mix the solution with the disposable spoon until the ingredients are well combined.
  3. Have your kid put four pieces of charcoal on the plastic plate, and encourage her to add a few drops of food coloring onto each charcoal briquette.
  4. Instruct her to pour a tiny amount of the mixture on top of the charcoal.
  5. During this chemical reaction, she will notice that beautiful shapes and colors emerge as a result.
  6. As these chemical changes occur, have her repeat steps 1 to 4 again with the remaining pieces of charcoal.

During this hands-on science experiment, your child will learn about geologic concepts. She’ll also learn that beautiful things can come from unlikely places!