In general, solid crystals are formed when there
is either too much of a substance dissolved in a
liquid (for example, too much salt in water), or
when the liquid is removed and the solid stays
For example, salt crystals stay behind
when boiling off the water from a pot full of
ocean water. In your case, the crystals will form
on a string that is immersed in a solution of
water, which also contains a lot of sugar (almost
as much or even a little more sugar than would
usually dissolve in water).
So why do these
neat looking crystals form as opposed to just some
solid block of sugar? This has to do with the
structure of these substances on a very small
level. The tiny particles that make up these
substances (for example, the atoms and molecules
that make up sugar or salt) tend to arrange in a
certain pattern. This pattern can be a cube, a
rectangle, a cylinder, or many other much more
complicated structures. This is on a very very
small level ... so small that you sometimes cannot
even see it with a regular microscope. So when the
first solid crystals form, they will arrange
themselves in that manner, which can be different
for each substance.
Once more crystals form,
they will continue to arrange themselves in that
same shape, until we can eventually see the neat
looking shapes with the bare eye. You have probably
noticed that this can be a little tricky.
Sometimes, it works well and you get nice crystals
and sometimes it doesn't work so well.
formation can be tricky like that, and it depends
on a number of factors (how much of each substance
is there, the temperature, the cleanliness of the
containers, ...). Also, on another note, the
reason why you need to put the string into the
solution is to give the crystals a point at which
they can start to form, almost like a "seed".
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