The Paper Puzzle Parade



Instant
White Christmas

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Important:

This is not a children's toy and adult supervision is required!

What's up?

Are you dreaming of a white christmas? Well, now you can get one instantly right out of the box. Simply dip your paper christmas tree into a jar with a 'magic liquid' - on the next morning it will be completely covered with 'snow', no matter of the local temperature. It will work fine even at a hundred Fahrenheits.

How does this work? There's a chemical dissolved in the liquid, which will be absorbed by the tree. As the water evaporates, the chemical starts creating white crystals all over the tree.

What you need

This kit is a little tricky. Building the model itself is quite easy, but obtaining all the necessary parts might be a little difficult ...

Well, here is what you need:

1: A printout of the sheet with the christmas tree (printed on absorbing paper!)

This is the first challenge:
As a dissolved chemical has to be drawn into the tree by capillary forces, the tree has to be built from a paper that absorbs liquids. This is the case for blotting paper used to dry fresh ink writings. I made the best experiences with a very thick blotting paper (ca. 200g / square meter) from a german manufacturer (Brunnen, Art. 10-41 546) but had to find out that some other blotting papers did not work at all.

Before producing the kit, it is a good idea to perform a little test: dip the end of a small and unprinted piece of your paper into a small puddle of water. If the water is absorbed imediately and transported to the upper end of your paper, this paper should be suitable for building the trees.

If you don't find a proper blotting paper, you can also try filter paper, e.g. the one used to prepare coffee. However, it will be very difficult to print on this material.

By the way: Printing on blotting paper with an inkjet printer is a waste of effort: the printout will be completely blurred. The paper I used worked fine in my color laser printer (an Epson Aculaser C1100); but (as always): there's no guarantee...

The PDF file of this sheet can be downloaded here.
whitechristmas.pdf

2.: An aluminum jar from a tealight candle

Well, this should be an easy task.

3.: Ca. 3 g of monopotassium phosphate (KH2PO4)

This is another challenge - at least if you're not a chemistry teacher. This chemical is rather harmless and widely used as a fertilizer and even as an additive to foods, but anyway hard to obtain. Pharmacys might have this in stock, but (at least in Germany) they are reluctant to sell it. Try to convince a pharmacist you know.

About 200 g of monopotassium phosphate per liter of water are necessary to produce a satuated solution. The jar from the tealight candle holds about 15 ml, which means you will need about 3 g for the experiment.

Important:

This is not a children's toy and adult supervision is madatory! Eye protection required.

Please have a look at the material data sheet of monopotassium phosphate before handling it and observe the necessary precations:
http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/p6038.htm

There's also a wikipedia article available:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopotassium_phosphate

General instructions on tools and materials can be found on the Tips and Tools page.

Building the Puzzle

Step 1: Cut out two parts of a tree. (There are six parts, i.e. three complete trees on the printout.) Fold the parts back to back at the dashed line.

 

Step 2: Slide one part over the other to form the tree.

 


Step 3: Get a tealight candle and remove the wax part. Put the empty aluminum jar on a plate. Pour about 3 g (approx. 1/2 teaspoon) of the monopotassium phosphate into the empty jar.

 


Step 4: Carefully fill the jar with boiling water. Stirr until the chemical has dissolved completely


Step 5: Put your paper tree into the liquid.

It will take several hours for the 'snow' to appear. Have fun.

Comments

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This kit: © 2007 by Georg Eggers, all rigths reserved. Not to be used for any commercial purpose!


Author: Georg Eggers email:
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Last modifications: January 04, 2008

Visitors since January 2008