Saturday, March 07, 2009

A Chemical Garden

This is one of several blog entries that I set up to be posted while I am in Mexico.

As I was standing near the railroad tracks, watching all that coal move from Wyoming through Colorado (see previous post), I looked down and found a few lumps that had tried to make their escape from the rail car but only made it as far as the stones of the railway bed. Black and shiny, they just screamed "do something fun with me!" So back into the recesses of my childhood mind I go, and dredged up a memory of making a chemical garden.

Now a chemical garden is probably a better science project than it is an RV decoration project, but non-the-less I decided to make one. Here is the recipe:

Chemical Garden

Place coal in a low dish with a little water. Mix well:
6 Tablespoons salt
6 Tablespoons bluing
6 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon ammonia
Pour slowly on coal. Put drops of food coloring on coal for color.

And here are the results.

DAY 1:

DAY 2, Morning:

DAY 2, Evening:



Some things to keep in mind if you want to make one of your own:

  • The blue and green food colors seem to take over the other colors. Yellow shows up third best. Don't let the colors bleed into each other
  • Bluing is still available in the laundry section of some stores (I found it in a King Sooper)
  • If you can't find coal, I have heard that charcoal will work, too
  • It grows quickly -- very quickly. Don't start it before you go on vacation!

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