These delicate structures grow spontaneously from solutions of salts, including ordinary table salt. Salts mixed into water creep slowly up paper tubes, drip onto fabric, and seep down the cotton strings suspended above. As the water in the solution evaporates, the salt crystallizes. The color and character of the crystal depend on the type of salt. The crystals grow slowly, but eventually the long vines hanging above will reach down to the table.
© The Exploratorium, 1996