Making a crystal garden

Description

The formation of molten silicates in the Earth’s mantle involves the formation of silicon dioxide and its subsequent reaction at high temperatures with metal oxides. In this experiment coloured silicates are formed in the laboratory.

Credits

:
This is an experiment from the Practical Chemistry project, developed by the Nuffield Foundation and the Royal Society of Chemistry.
making-a-crystal-garden



Apparatus Chemicals

Goggles for handling the sodium silicate solution and disposable gloves (preferably nitrile)

Beaker (500 cm3)

Watch glass

Glass stirring rod

Forceps

A piece of card, to cover the beaker

Sodium silicate solution (water glass) (CORROSIVE) (Note 1)

A few crystals of some metal sulfates or nitrates (Note 2), such as:

Cobalt(II) nitrate (OXIDISING, HARMFUL)

Iron(III) nitrate (OXIDISING, IRRITANT)

Magnesium nitrate (OXIDISING)

Manganese(II) sulfate (HARMFUL, DANGEROUS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT)

Hot de-ionised water

Refer to Health & Safety and Technical notes section below for additional information.

 






The formation of molten silicates in the Earth’s mantle involves the formation of silicon dioxide and its subsequent reaction at high temperatures with metal oxides. In this experiment coloured silicates are formed in the laboratory.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

This is a resource from the Practical Chemistry project, developed by the Nuffield Foundation and the Royal Society of Chemistry. This collection of over 200 practical activities demonstrates a wide range of chemical concepts and processes. Each activity contains comprehensive information for teachers and technicians, including full technical notes and step-by-step procedures. Practical Chemistry activities accompany Practical Physics and Practical Biology .