Holiday Chemistry Projects

Celebrate the Holiday with Chemistry

There are a lot of fun and interesting chemistry projects that you can do that relate to the winter holidays. You can simulate snow, design holiday decorations, and make creative gifts. The best part is, these projects use common household materials so you don't need to be a chemist to try them out.

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Make Fake Snow

Fake snow is made from sodium polyacrylate, a water-absorbing polymer.
Fake snow is made from sodium polyacrylate, a water-absorbing polymer. John Snelling / Getty Images

Do you want a white Christmas, but know it won't snow? Make artificial snow! This is a non-toxic snow made from a polymer. You could buy it in a store, but it's easy to make fake snow yourself.

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Make Christmas Tree Preservative

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

If you celebrate Christmas and have a real tree, chances are you want the tree to still have all of its needles by the time the holiday arrives. Making your own Christmas tree preservative can help keep your tree from becoming a fire hazard while saving you quite a bit of money over buying commercial tree preservative.

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Crystal Snow Globe

Snow Globe
Snow Globe. Scott Liddell, morguefile.com

The snow in this snow globe come from crystals that you cause to precipitate out of the water in the globe. This is a fun and educational chemistry project that produces a stunning snow globe.

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Grow a Snowflake Crystal Ornament

Borax crystals are safe and easy to grow.
Borax crystals are safe and easy to grow. Anne Helmenstine

You can grow this crystal ornament overnight in your kitchen. A snowflake is an easy shape to produce, but you could make a crystal star or bell or any holiday shape you like.

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Make Silver Polishing Dip

You can use chemistry to remove the tarnish from your silver without even touching it.
You can use chemistry to remove the tarnish from your silver without even touching it. Mel Curtis, Getty Images

Do you have silver that has some tarnish? Commercial silver polishes can be expensive and can leave a nasty residue on your silver. You can make a safe and inexpensive silver polishing dip that will remove tarnish from silver using electrochemistry. No scrubbing or rubbing is required; you don't even have to touch the silver.

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Make Your Own Holiday Gift Wrap

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

You can learn about surfactants while making your own marbled paper, which can be used as holiday gift wrap. One of the interesting features of this gift wrap is you can make it scented as well as colored. Peppermint, cinnamon, or pine would smell particularly seasonal.