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Grandpa Pencil

Learns about
Stalactites and Stalagmites

Which is which

OK, before we start I am going to give you a key so that you will never forget which is which again.

"When the mites go up the Tights come down"
So, when the formation grows UP from the floor or 'when the mites run UP your leg', it is a stalagmite.

When the formation grows DOWN from the ceiling or 'the tights come down', it is a stalactite.

Found in limestone cave systems these formations often form magnificent natural works of art backed by the soft music of dripping water.

What are they?

Limestone is a rock made up largely of calcium carbonate and is readily dissolved by water.

Water seeping through the rock picks up the calcium carbonate and the evaporation of the laden drops of water leaves a deposit that, over a great period of time, creates the beautiful stalagmites and stalactites.

Marble is also made up of calcium carbonate but formed under great pressure.

Its wonderful colours are formed from various foreign materials that mix with it before it crystalises.


Make your own Stalactites and Stalagmites
  • You will need something like a shoe box without the lid, 2 jars a little taller than the shoe box, heavy hemp (or other natural fibre) string, 2 weights, Epsom Salts and water
  • Place the box, with the open side up, in a spot where you can watch it over a period of time and it is not in anyone's way
  • Place a jar on either side of the box
  • Measure four bits of string so that they will sit on the bottom of both jars and cross the box with a slight dip in the middle (after the weights have been attached)
  • Attach the weights and set up in the jars
  • Mix enough of a saturated solution of Epsom Salts to fill both jars.
  • Measure out the amount of water required and add Epsom Salts until no more will dissolve
  • Fill the jars
  • After a period the water will move up the string and begin to drip into the shoe box
  • As the water evaporates from the string and the box you will begin to see the formation of Stalagmites and Stalactites.





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