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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Coal Garden

When we were kids, we got an old lump of coal and made us a pretty coal garden.

That was a long time ago and I'd forgotten how we did it. I looked on line and found many recipes for coal gardens.

This is how I did it. Don't let children do this unattended, since ammonia is used.

Here are the ingredients:
A lump of coal, salt ( they say you can use table salt, but I used salt we had for making ice cream), food coloring, bluing, ammonia, water.
I bought Mrs. Stewart's Liquid Bluing in the household section of Krogers.

We had a new container of ammonia. I punched a hole in the seal . . .

. . . and used a pipette to get the ammonia out with. This made it very easy and the fumes weren't very strong. You might want to do this in a ventilated area. I put up my kitchen windows.
One of the recipes I saw didn't use the ammonia. The ammonia only speeds up the process.
So, if you are patient, you could probably get by not using it.

Get a container to put the coal on. It can be an empty margarine tub, a plastic plate like I used or a clear glass container.

First I put on the piece of coal - - 3 Tablespoons. of water, 3 Tablespoons. of salt, 3 Tablespoons of bluing, 1 Tablespoon of ammonia, and then drops of food coloring.

In the beginning it looks like this.

After you've did this, put it in a place where it will not be bothered. After the crystals start to grow, you don't want to disturb them.

This picture was taken after about one hour. If you look close, you can see the crystals starting to grow.

Two Hours

Three Hours

And these are close ups after about four hours

Aren't the crystals pretty?

Did any of you ever make these?

These should continue to grow.

If you go to Mrs. Stewart's site, they also give instructions there.
Their instructions are just a little different than how I did it.


  1. Yes Janet, Mom made these when I was a kid.

  2. Janet: I've never seen this done but the cystals look like lichen. It is pretty cool with all the colors.

  3. This is the coolest and neatest thing that i have seen in a very long time. so enjoyed it. Wishing you and your family a most blessed and happy Easter.

  4. I've never heard of this before. It must be a dying art.
    Thanks for sharing it. If I ever get a lump of coal, I will definitely try this. Boo would love it.

  5. That is so cool, I have heard of it, but never did see how it looked. Thank you for showing us. Now where in the world would I get a chunk of coal. I have everything else. Would Charcoal work do you think???

  6. Shanda, as a matter of fact, I read where you could use charcoal briquettes or brick. But, of course, with me living in WV, I have no problem finding coal.

  7. I have grown "coal gardens" many times in the past for my children and the children in my class.

  8. Thanks for visiting my blog. I have never made the crystals, but I have heard of that. That is pretty cool! Happy Easter!

  9. Oh, I'd forgotten all about those! We were absolutely barred from making them in the house, however. Whew, I can STILL smell the chemicals rolling off that thing all these years later.

  10. I love this, Janet! I've never made them, but I have heard about them--and it wasa frequent reference question at the library. I think I'll give it a try with the grandkids when they're here again.

    Larry said they made these when he was a kid. Plenty of coal where he grew up.

  11. Janet,

    I have never heard of these, but I'm sure it would be fun. I am going to go down by the railroad tracks and see if I can find some lumps of coal. The grandsons and I could have fun with this. Thanks for sharing.

    Happy Easter to you and yours.

  12. I know we used to make crystals but I don't remember using coal. I'll have to ask my Mom if she remembers.
    This is actually very cool!

  13. Janet-I never made them but I remember having some kind of science kit that grew crystals. Yours are so pretty!

  14. My grandkids would love this! but where do you get the coal? blessings, marlene

  15. Hey,
    I remember making these but didn't make them to often. I didn't know the made blueing anymore! They don't carry it in any of the stores in my area so I didn't think they made it anymore. Thanks for showing me where to get it. Now all I have to do is find a piece of coal....
    Deb :-)

  16. Thanks for this idea. My kids will love doing this. I have heard about this project before, but have never tried it.

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