Christmas Chemistry

Christmas Chemistry Projects & Topics

Are you looking for a way to add some chemistry to the Christmas holiday? Here's a collection of chemistry projects and articles relating to Christmas and other winter holidays. You can make homemade real or artificial snow, holiday ornaments, and gifts and perform seasonal color change demonstrations.

You could use glitter for a snow globe, but crystals will look more realistic.
You could use glitter for a snow globe, but crystals will look more realistic. sot, Getty Images

Snow made from water crystals melts at room temperature, but snow made from benzoic acid crystals will still be decorating your snow globe when the weather warms up. Here's how to make a snow globe by precipitating benzoic acid to make the 'snow'. More »

Keep your tree alive by using a tree preservative.
Keep your tree alive by adding a preservative to its water that you can make yourself using common household ingredients. Martin Poole, Getty Images

A lot of people choose Thanksgiving Day or Thanksgiving weekend as the traditional time to put up the tree. If you want the tree to still have needles by Christmas, you either need a fake tre,e or else to give the fresh tree a tree preservative to give it the help it needs to make it through the holiday season. Use your chemistry knowledge to make the tree preservative yourself. It's really economical and easy! More »

A poinsettia is a natural pH indicator.
A poinsettia is a natural pH indicator. alohaspirit, Getty Images

You can make your own pH paper with any of a number of common garden plants or kitchen ingredients, but poinsettias are common decorative plants around Thanksgiving. Make up some pH paper and then test the acidity of household chemicals. More »

Fake snow is made from sodium polyacrylate, a water-absorbing polymer.
Fake snow is made from sodium polyacrylate, a water-absorbing polymer. Anne Helmenstine

You can make fake snow using a common polymer. The fake snow is non-toxic, feels cool to the touch, and looks similar to the real thing. More »

It's easy to make colored fire pinecones.
It's easy to make colored fire pinecones. Anne Helmenstine

All you need are some pinecones and one easy-to-find ingredient to make pinecones that will burn with colored flames. The pinecones are easy to prepare, plus they can be given as thoughtful gifts.

Make Colored Fire Pinecones

Video - Colored Fire Pinecones More »

Borax crystal snowflakes are fun and easy to make.
Borax crystal snowflakes are fun and easy to make. Cyndi Monaghan / Getty Images

Do real snowflakes melt too quickly? Grow a borax snowflake, color it blue if you like, and enjoy the sparkle all year long!

Grow a Borax Crystal Snowflake More »

This girl is catching snowflakes on her tongue.
This girl is catching snowflakes on her tongue. Somehow I think these snowflakes are fake (ick) but it's a great photo. Digital Vision, Getty Images

Actually, you'll get flavored snow slushy unless you apply some freezing point depression to your ice cream-making process. When you make snow ice cream you can use snow and salt to freeze a flavored cream mixture or else you can use ice and salt to freeze actual flavored snow. It's a pretty great family project, either way. More »

Closeup photo of snowflakes
" Snowflakes" ( CC BY 2.0) by James P. Mann

Here are answers to common questions about snowflakes. Learn how snow forms, what shapes snowflakes take, why snow crystals are symmetrical, whether no two snowflakes really are alike, and why snow looks white!

Learn About Snowflakes

Snowflake Photo Gallery More »

Christmas Decorations
DigiPub / Getty Images

Copper plate a holiday decoration as a Christmas ornament or for other decorative uses. More »

If you use scented shaving cream, you can make holiday-scented gifts.
If you use scented shaving cream, you can make holiday-scented gifts. It's easy to find peppermint-scented shaving cream for the winter holidays. Try a floral scent for Valentine's Day. Anne Helmenstine

Use a surfactant to marble paper to make your own gift wrap. You can embed a fragrance in the paper, too, so that it can smell like candy canes or Christmas trees. More »

If the temperature is cold enough, you can make snow yourself!
If the temperature is cold enough, you can make snow yourself!. Zefram, Creative Commons License

Do you want a White Christmas, but the weatherman says it's not looking promising? Take matters into your own hands and make your own snow. More »

Chemistry shows it's not the turkey that makes you sleepy after a big dinner!
Chemistry shows it's not the turkey that makes you sleepy after a big dinner!. Last Resort, Getty Images

Turkey is a common choice for holiday dinners, yet it seems like everyone feels like taking a nap after eating it. Is the turkey to blame or is there something else making you snoozy? Here's a look at the chemistry behind "tired turkey syndrome."​

Tired Turkey Syndrome

Tryptophan Facts More »

You can use chemistry to create your own perfumes.
You can use chemistry to create your own perfumes. Anne Helmenstine

Perfume is a gift that you can make using chemistry that is special because you can create a unique signature scent.​

Create a Signature Perfume Scent

Solid Perfume Recipe

Perfume-Making Safety Tips More »

Magic Crystal Tree
Magic Crystal Tree. Courtesy of Pricegrabber

Making a crystal Christmas tree is a fun and easy crystal-growing project. There are kits you can get for the crystal trees or you can make the tree and crystal solution yourself.​

Make a Crystal Christmas Tree

Time Lapse Video - Magic Crystal Christmas Tree More »

A gloved hand swirls an Erlenmeyer flask containing a green liquid.
A gloved hand swirls an Erlenmeyer flask containing a green liquid. Medioimages/Photodisc, Getty Images

Color change chemistry demonstrations are the best! This demonstration uses a pH indicator to change the color of a solution from green to red and back to green. Christmas colors! More »

You can use a chemical reaction to deposit silver crystals like these onto a copper Christmas tree form to make a silver tree.
You can use a chemical reaction to deposit silver crystals like these onto a copper Christmas tree form to make a silver tree. Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

Grow pure silver crystals on a tree form to make a glittering silver Christmas tree. This is an easy chemistry project that makes a spectacular decoration. More »

Soak a holiday stocking in crystal solution to make a glittery crystal decoration or ornament.
Soak a holiday stocking in crystal solution to make a glittery crystal decoration or ornament. Lucas Allen / Getty Images

Soak a holiday stocking in crystal growing solution to get crystals to form on it. This yields a sparkling crystal decoration or ornament that you can use year after year. More »

This silver ornament was made by chemically silvering the inside of a glass ball.
This silver ornament was made by chemically silvering the inside of a glass ball. Anne Helmenstine

Mirror a glass ornament with real silver using this variation of Tollen's reagent. You can coat the inside of a glass ball or a test tube or any other smooth surface to produce a keepsake holiday decoration. More »