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Cave Formations: Stalactite and Stalagmite FormationFeatured science projectScience project video


What is your stalactite and stalagmite made of? The stalactite and stalagmite in this model are made of Epsom salt.

2 .Where did the material on the string and the plate come from? The material on the string came from the dissolved Epsom salt, which dripped down through the string. The water then evaporated and the Epsom salt hardened once again, this time in the shape of a stalactite and stalagmite.

3. What does the string represent inside a cave? The string represents the cave ceiling.

4. Would this process take the same amount of time in a cave? The process takes much, much longer in nature. It takes hundreds of years.

Questions & Answers

What are the features in a cave called?

How are the features in a cave formed?

Make it Your Own

In this experiment you made a model of a stalactite and stalagmite from Epson salts, which is an easily dissolved, non-toxic mineral similar to the calcium carbonate that forms these structures in a cave. Research other common household materials that are also easily dissolvable, non-toxic minerals and try the experiment using these materials.


The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth edition. Columbia University Press (2007).

Stalactite and Stalagmite. Retrieved on November 15, 2013 from

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    Complexity level:
    Project cost ($):
    Time required:
    The dripping down (stalactite) and building up (stalagmite) will take about 3-5 days. If you want a column to form (the stalactite and stalagmite to touch), this will take over a week.
    Material availability:
    Safety concerns: