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A chemical garden (or crystal garden) is a simple experiment in chemistry, usually performed by adding one or more metal salts, such as copper(II) sulfate, iron(II) chloride, cobalt(II) chloride, nickel(II) sulfate to an aqueous solution of sodium silicate or potassium silicate. This results in growth of "plant" like forms in minutes to hours.
A transition metal salt is added in the sodium silicate solution, resulting in the formation of a transition metal silicate, which grows upwards if the density of the fluid inside the resulting semi-permeable membrane is low, and downwards if the density is high.
The resulting garden should not be shaken, since the "plants" are very delicate and will break. The life of garden can be extended by slowly adding water at a very slow rate, after the growth has ceased.
|Aluminium potassium sulfate||White|
Other types of chemical gardens
Charcoal crystal garden
This chemical garden does not require sodium silicate. Instead, salt crystals are grown on charcoal substrates. Other porous materials can also be used, such as brick, cork, sponge, porous rock, pumice. For this experiment you will need charcoal briquettes, ammonia, distilled water, uniodized salt, bluing, and food coloring.
While sodium silicate is not very toxic, and only somewhat irritating, some salts used, like cobalt salts are harmful and proper protection should be worn when working.
Storage and disposal
Chemical gardens do not store well over time.
Generally, chemical gardens don't require special disposal and can be simply dumped in trash. If toxic metal compounds have been used, special disposal may be required.
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