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Magic Rocks - Review

Instant Crystal Growing Kit

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Magic Rocks contain liquid sodium silicate and colored

Magic Rocks contain liquid sodium silicate and colored "rocks".

Wrinehart, wikipedia.org

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Magic Rocks are a classic instant crystal growing kit. You pour a magic solution over magic rocks and a fanciful crystal garden starts growing as you watch. Are Magic Rocks worth trying? Here's my review of the Magic Rocks kit.

What You Get & What You Need

There are different Magic Rock kits on the market. Some of them only include the Magic Rocks and the Magic Solution. I bought a kit that included a plastic display tank and some decorations. If you don't get a kit that includes a display tank, you will need a small plastic or glass bowl (a small fishbowl works). For any kit, you will need:

  • room temperature water (~70°F)
  • measuring cup
  • plastic spoon or wooden stick

 

My Experience with Magic Rocks

I grew Magic Rocks when I was a kid. I still think they are fun. They aren't a fool-proof project, though. Success depends on one thing: following the directions! Read the directions before beginning this project. The exact instructions will depend on your kit, but they go something like this:

  1. Read the instructions.
  2. Mix the Magic Solution with the amount of water indicated in the instructions. Be sure the water is room temperature and not hold/cold. Mix the solution well (this is important).
  3. Place half of the Magic Rocks on the bottom of the display tank. The rocks should not touch each other or the sides of the tank.
  4. Pour in the diluted Magic Solution. If any of the rocks were disturbed, use plastic spoon or wooden stick to put them back in place. Do not use your finger!
  5. Set the container somewhere where it won't get bumped. This location should have a stable temperature and should be out of reach of young children and pets.
  6. Look! The crystals start growing immediately. It's pretty cool.
  7. About 6 hours later, add the other half of the Magic Rocks. Try to avoid landing them on each other or against the side of the container.
  8. After another 6 hours, carefully dump the Magic Solution down the drain. Flush this solution away with lots of water to be sure no one will accidentally touch it.
  9. Gently fill the tank with clean room-temperature water. If the water is cloudy, you can replace the water a couple more times to cleanse the tank.
  10. At this point, your Magic Rocks are complete. You can top off the display tank with water to keep the crystal garden as long as you like.

 

What I Liked and Didn't Like About Magic Rocks

What I Liked

  • Instant gratification. Crystals begin to grow as soon as you add the Magic Solution to the Magic Rocks. You don't have to wait around for something to happen.
  • The crystal garden is beautiful. Nothing looks quite the same.
  • The project is easy.
  • You can keep your creation indefinitely.
What I Didn't Like
  • Magic Rocks are not non-toxic. The ingredients are harmful if swallowed, plus they are a skin and eye irritant. That makes them unsuitable for very young children. Keep them away from pets, too. It is safe to rinse the materials down the drain, but clean-up is a little more critical than with non-toxic projects.
  • You can get poor results if you don't adhere to the instructions. If the rocks are too close together, your crystals will look flat and uninteresting. If your water is too warm or too cold your crystals will be too spindly too support themselves or will be stunted.
  • The instructions don't explain the science behind how Magic Rocks work. In case you are wondering, you aren't really growing crystals in this project. You are precipitating colored metal salts. It's still awesome.

 

The Bottom Line

Magic Rocks have been around since the 1940s and are still around today because this project is a lot of fun, is easy to do, and makes an interesting chemical garden. I might hold off on playing with Magic Rocks if I had very young children in the house (recommended age is 10+), but otherwise, I think they are great. You could make your own Magic Rocks, but most kits are inexpensive. Magic Rocks are a memorable science project.

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