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Water Beads Add Uniqueness To Your Home Décor

Updated on February 11, 2011
Water beads before adding water
Water beads before adding water

If you’re looking for a different and inexpensive way to add a few decorative touches to your home, water beads, also called water crystals, may be just the ticket. These amazing little beads start as just that. A little tiny bead. But when you add water to them, they absorb the water and become about 400 times their original size. They also disperse the water that is in them to live flowers or plants. Or you can put them in a closed container and they make whatever you put in there with them look like it’s "floating".

This type of technology was first used to keep crops and plants watered out in the field. They are a polymer based non toxic and biodegradable product.

They release the water that’s in them over a period of time which makes them perfect for those of us who sometimes forget to water our flowers or plants. Once hydrated, the water will release for seven to nine weeks. You can always add water to them, when they appear to be getting smaller, or if you are using them for a fresh flower arrangement, after you're done with it, you can always just let them return to their dehydrated state over time. And then re-hydrate them when you need them the next time. The beauty of these beads is even if you don’t have flowers in a vase, they still make the vase look interesting and it can stand alone as a decorative piece.

I first discovered these beads purely by accident one day at a farmer’s market. Someone was selling them out of a booth there. I found them fascinating and so unusual. After looking at the displays of the beads, I purchased a few vials and tried to figure out what I could do with them to spark up my home.

Water beads with bamboo plant
Water beads with bamboo plant
Water beads with "floating" rose and black background
Water beads with "floating" rose and black background
Water beads with "floating" flowers and black background
Water beads with "floating" flowers and black background
Water beads with "floating" shells
Water beads with "floating" shells

To use the beads, I put them in a bowl with a couple of cups of water and left them overnight. The next morning they were fully hydrated (the instructions say to soak as little as six hours or as much as twelve, depending on what kind they are).

I definitely wanted to try to put them in closed containers and see the effect when I added some of the shells and silk flowers I had that were gathering dust in a closet. What I didn’t have were the right containers. So I went to thrift stores and flea markets to look for any glass containers that I could seal. I found many items out there in all kinds of shapes and sizes which really added a personal touch to each finished product. And cost less than a dollar apiece.

To make the "floating" effect, you place the beads in the container with whatever else you decide (shells, flowers, etc.) Then fill the container with water. You want to add as much water as possible, to the point that when you seal the container with the lid the water is literally seeping out.

The first one I tried was with an old canister. I used clear beads, with a few blue ones thrown in for color, and added shells that I had gathered on the beach. I have an ocean themed bathroom in my house, and I thought this might look interesting sitting on the vanity. I really like it’s uniqueness and it’s a conversation starter when I have guests.

I then went on to try the flowers and more shell combinations for different areas of the house and I have to say, I’ve been pleased with all the results so far.

I also put some beads in a container with a bamboo plant and have not had to water the plant for a month and probably won’t have to for a few more weeks (generally I water my bamboo plants once a week). I will wait until the beads get about half the size they are now, add water to cover them again, and leave it at that for another couple of months.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to use water beads to spruce up your décor.

1. Don’t leave them in direct sun. They may darken or fade.

2. They are much less expensive to buy on line than at a flea market, farmer’s market, or craft store. They come in vials, or small plastic bags.

3. If you put shells or other natural items in the container and the water gets a little murky over time, just take the beads out, run water over them, and the water will be clear again (it's just the natural sand and salt on the shells that causes the murkiness). 

4. If you decide to let them dehydrate, take them out of the container and lay them out on a towel to let them dry. If you leave them in the glass container, they will stick to it.

5. Water “crystals” are generally smaller when hydrated than water “beads”.

6. They come in about 12 different colors so they are good for any color scheme, and you can mix the colors in one container for different effects.

7. These beads are for flowers and plants that prefer constant moisture.

So if you’re looking for a different way to add some color and uniqueness to your home, check out water beads and see how creative you can be.

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