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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

How To Make a Fulgurite

By February 7, 2014

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Fulgurites are made when lightning strikes the earth. (Charles Allison, Oklahoma Lightning)What's a fulgurite? It is what you get when lightning (or meteor or an atomic blast or electricity from a damaged transformer) strikes sand. The silicate melts into the form of the lightning bolt into a glassy mineraloid called lechatelierite (after Le Chatelier of Le Chatelier's Principle). Fulgurites typically are tan or gray hollow tubes, rough with sand on the outside and smooth or lined with tiny bubbles on the inside, mapping out that path of a lightning bolt. They make interesting specimens for collectors or sometimes the natural glass is cut for use in jewelry.

While your chances of coming across a fulgurite are slim, unless you happen to live near a sand dune or maybe the Nevada Test Site, it's possible to draw lightning into sand to make a fulgurite yourself. Are you up for it?

What Are Fulgurites? | How to Make a Fulgurite


April 26, 2011 at 8:53 am
(1) sundari.kannan. says:

thats awesum…chemistry is fun & awesum….

February 23, 2012 at 12:28 pm
(2) hope says:

i was just telling my boyfriend just the other day i wanted to make one of these but for the life of me couldnt remember the name.

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