Christmas chemistry projects and experiments are a fun way to wind down school before the holiday break or entertain kids and guests. Here is a collection of easy and fun Christmas chemistry projects, including making ornaments, playing with real and fake snow, growing crystals, and coloring fire.
Christmas Tree Chemistry Projects
Make Christmas Tree Food
Keep a freshly cut Christmas tree green and healthy over the holidays using homemade Christmas tree food. Feed the tree a mixture of 1 gallon of water, 2 cups light corn syrup, and 4 teaspoons of bleach. An even simpler recipes is a gallon of water, a can of Sprite, and a splash of bleach.
Make a Chemis-Tree
A “Chemis-tree” is a Christmas tree made using lab glassware filled with colored liquids. Basically, you fix test tubes or small flasks to a ring stand using clamps. But, there are other types of chemis-trees to make, too.
Make an Elephant Toothpaste Christmas Tree
If you add a bit of green food coloring and perform the elephant toothpaste reaction in an Erlenmeyer flask (tree- or cone-shaped) you get an elephant toothpaste Christmas tree. Start with either the kid-friendly elephant toothpaste reaction or the classic reaction.
Grow a Crystal Christmas Tree
The crystal Christmas tree is a variation of the classic charcoal crystal garden project. Cut out a construction paper or cardboard tree shape. Dot ornaments on the tree using food coloring. Mix water, table salt, Mrs. Stewart’s laundry bluing, and a bit of household ammonia. Set the tree in a shallow dish, pour the liquid into the bottom of the dish, and watch as crystals cover the paper tree.
Grow a Silver Crystal Tree
Another type of Christmas tree you can grow using chemistry is a silver crystal tree. Coil copper wire into a tree shape and soak the tree in a silver nitrate solution. Silver deposits onto the copper as delicate, sparkling crystals.
Crystal Christmas Chemistry Projects
Make a Crystal Snow Globe
Instead of making a snow globe with glitter, use real crystals that sparkle just like snow. Dissolve 5 grams of benzoic acid in 1 liter of hot water. Pour the solution into a small clear jar. Use a glue gun to affix small decorations inside the lid of the jar. Screw on the lid, seal it with the glue gun, and turn the jar over for a beautiful benzoic acid snow globe.
Make Borax Crystal Snowflakes and Stars
Dissolve borax in hot water until no more dissolves. Make snowflake or star shapes using pipe cleaners and hang them in the solution. Within a few hours, sparkling crystals cover the shapes. Remove the shapes from the liquid and set them on a paper towel to dry. Use borax crystal snowflakes or stars as holiday decorations.
Make Fake Window Frost That Does Not Melt
Mix non-toxic urea into hot water. Paint the saturated solution onto windows or mirrors and get festive frost in minutes. Clean-up only requires warm water.
Crystallize a Holiday Stocking
Soak a simple felt holiday stocking in a crystal-growing solution, let crystals grow, and dry the stocking. The result is a sparkling stocking that’s covered in crystals. Try borax, table salt, or Epsom salt crystals. Just take a cup of hot water and stir in the chemical until no more dissolves. Add the stocking, wait overnight, and remove your item.
Snow Chemistry Projects and Activities
Make Your Own Snow
If it’s cold outside but the forecast does not call for snow you can take matters into your own hands and make snow. Use a pressure washer for a yard full of snow or even a garden mister if you just want a few snowflakes.
Make Snow Ice Cream
If your snow is clean, a simple snow ice cream recipe is a big bowl of snow mixed with a can of sweetened condensed milk.
Make Fake Snow
Fake snow is wet just like real snow and cold if you refrigerate it, but it does not melt. All you need is sodium polyacrylate gel and water. You can find this chemical online, but it’s also the stuff inside disposable diapers or sold as a water-retaining gel for plants. It’s non-toxic and re-useable. When you’re done playing with it, just let it dry out and store the powder for another day. In addition to sodium polyacrylate snow, there are several other fake snow recipes that use common kitchen ingredients.
Ornaments and Decorations
Make Real Silver Christmas Ornaments
This chemical reaction is a classic holiday chemistry project. Coat the inside of a glass ball with real silver. You do need a few different chemicals in addition to some clear ornaments, but the silver ornament project is simple and straightforward.
Make a Copper Christmas Tree Ornament
A simple chemical reaction plates a zinc or galvanized metal ornament with copper. Cut out a shape or form it from sheet metal, galvanized wire, or hardware cloth. Soak the decoration in a copper nitrate solution and watch the silver-colored metal change to copper.
Make Atom Paper Snowflakes
Instead of cutting out paper snowflakes, decorate using paper atoms. These holiday decorations are perfect if you are decorating for the winter holidays and want to show your love of science.
Colored Fire Christmas Chemistry
Make Colored Fire
Sprinkle common household chemicals onto a wood-burning fire and watch the flames change colors. Use borax or copper sulfate for green flames. There are chemicals that change flames to any color of the rainbow.
Burn Pinecones That Have Colored Flames
Collect (or purchase) pinecones. Sprinkle borax or copper sulfate onto them before burning them in the fireplace or campfire. For less mess, soak pinecones in a bucket with either chemical and some water. Let the colored fire pinecones dry before using them or giving them as gifts.
Color Change Christmas Chemistry
Do the Green to Red Color Change Chemistry Demonstration
This chemistry demonstration is called the Christmas color change reaction for a good reason. Change the color of a chemical solution from red to green and back again. You’ll need water, glucose, sodium hydroxide, and indigo carmine pH indicator.
Test pH Using Poinsettia pH Paper
Use red “petals” from a holiday poinsettia plant for homemade pH paper test strips. Test home chemicals and see whether they are acids, bases, or neutral. Chop the red leaves, soak them in a small amount of boiling water and extract the color, and dip a coffee filter in the liquid. Dry the coffee filter and cut it into strips. The strips stay red for acids and turn green in the presence of bases.
Make Gifts Using Chemistry
Make Marbled Paper for Holiday Gift Wrap
All you need is ordinary printer paper, a can of shaving cream, and some food coloring to make scented, marbled paper. Wrap gifts using the homemade marbled paper or make several sheets and give the paper as a gift.
Make Homemade Perfume
Apply chemistry for making perfume to give as a gift. Learn about the different “notes” of a perfume and get recipes for classic scent combinations.
More Christmas Chemistry Resources
- Print a Christmas tree periodic table (or try another color scheme)
- Print a winter-theme periodic table
- Write Christmas and winter words made using element symbols
- Find out whether you can smell snow