Science Project:

Create Your Own Miniature Salt Flats!

4.1 based on 176 ratings

Introduction

Evaporites are rocks that are formed by the minerals left behind when the water they were dissolved in evaporates. This is the process that created the great salt flats in Utah, for example--those are mostly made up of evaporates.

Research Questions

  • How do salt flats form?

Terms to Know

  • Sedimentation
  • Evaporation
  • Evaporites

Materials

  • Glass or ceramic pie dish or casserole (if you must use metal, make sure it’s a disposable pan or dish; the salt will wreck metal)
  • 4 cupshot water
  • Spoon
  • 2 cups salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoonssoil

Experimental Procedure

  1. Slowly stir a half cup of salt, one tablespoon of baking soda, and one tablespoon of dirt into one cup of hot water until the salt dissolves completely. Let it sit for a minute, then stir it again and let it sit for another minute.
  2. Pour the mixture into your pie dish and set it somewhere out in the open where it won’t be disturbed. Wait for the water to evaporate completely. This may take only a day or so, or it may take several days, depending on conditions. What you’ve got in the bottom of your pan is like a layer of sedimentary rock that is left after the water that brought the minerals somewhere has evaporated.
  3. Repeat steps one and two, but this time just use half a cup of salt, no baking soda or soil. Now you should get a layer that looks cleaner and has larger crystals.
  4. Repeat steps one through three. Now you should have your own model salt flats that alternate “dirty” and “clean” strata, or layers, showing clearly how the layers are formed. Salt flats are formed in much the same way, with water that has a lot of salt and other minerals in it evaporating and leaving the minerals behind as sediments that form layers over time as the process repeats itself.

Bibliography

Dig It!: Over 40 Experiments in Geology, by Lockwood DeWitt and B. K. Hixson, pp. 175-180 (Loose in the Lab Science Series, 2003).

Author: Michelle Formoso
Disclaimer and Safety Precautions

Education.com provides the Science Fair Project Ideas for informational purposes only. Education.com does not make any guarantee or representation regarding the Science Fair Project Ideas and is not responsible or liable for any loss or damage, directly or indirectly, caused by your use of such information. By accessing the Science Fair Project Ideas, you waive and renounce any claims against Education.com that arise thereof. In addition, your access to Education.com's website and Science Fair Project Ideas is covered by Education.com's Privacy Policy and site Terms of Use, which include limitations on Education.com's liability.

Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state's handbook of Science Safety.

How likely are you to recommend Education.com to your friends and colleagues?

Not at all likely
Extremely likely