Imagine the scene: you walk into a huge ballroom with decorations everywhere. On the tables are these beautiful, tall vases containing flowers that seem to be floating. Wait a minute? Flowers can’t be suspended in water? How did they do it?
Of course, those of you who know me really well know what I did next. Yep-in my best party shoes, I climbed up on the table to reach the vases. Now, just so you know, I did speak with the ladies who were at my table. You see they really wanted to know how the arrangements were made as well. I just could not let them down now could I?
Unfortunatly, being vertically challenged, reaching the center of a 10 foot circular table was a little harder than I had anticipated. But, I managed to do it and keep in mind, one must do these crazy things in the pursuit of scientific discovery!
And presto! Mystery solved!
How did they create an arrangement of floating flowers? Drum roll please….with Water Gels! Yep-tiny little crystals that are made of a chemical that when placed in water swell to almost three times their size. Let me just say these little crystals are amazing! Not only do they “magically disappear” when placed in water, but you can use them for a variety of purposes.
Water Gels can be found at Walmart in the floral section, in any florist shop, or on the web. Just click here to order some!
The super absorbent polymer in water gel crystals has many uses. One of the great uses is in landscaping and agriculture to help retain soil water in dry climates. That’s right-just put these little things under your plants and when it rains, they fill up with water and help to water your plants!
These water gel crystals are a cross-linked acrylamide and potassium polyacrylate co-polymer. It is non-toxic but should be handled carefully as with all chemicals. Just be careful! When these guys get filled with water, they become extremely slippery.
So how did I make the great floral design above?
- First you hydrate the crystals. Takes about 24-48 hours.
- Next, you layer some of the crystals in a vase.
- Then you lay your flowers in at various angles.
- Fill in with some more of the crystals.
- Then slowly add water.
Here are some pictures of the process:
Just be careful using flowers that have dye in them. They will bleed over to the crystals.
Here is a video to show you how to make one. Just click here.
What is the science behind why these little crystals seem to magically disappear in water? Here is the simple answer: refraction. Put a pencil in water. What do you observe? Does it look bent? If so, that is due to refraction. See light can’t travel as fast in water as it does in the air. The difference in speed causes the image to appear to bend a bit.
But in the case of the flowers, because the gels are filled with water, the refraction is reduced and they seem to disappear in the water! Pretty cool huh! Try this out for your next party and have fun watching your guests be blinded by science!