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First off, the substance needs to be soluble in water, otherwise it won't form any crystals, it will just sit there and look a bit sad. It's also important to note that it helps if the substance is a solid.

When you dissolve enough of a substance in a certain volume of water, no more of it will dissolve. This is because the water can only hold so much dissolved substance and reaches a point called saturation, which is the point where no more substance will dissolve. At this point, keep adding more solid and supersaturation occurs. Basically, the solid has nowhere else to go but other bits of solid floating undissolved in solution. This causes them to clump together and they naturally form a crystalline structure (a method used in forming drug molecules for pharmaceuticals into tablets actually).

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Q: How does mixing a substance in water allow crystals to form?
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