Either known as cane sugar when made out of sugar cane or as beet sugar when made out of sugar beets. Don´t be confused both are the absolute identical chemical compound. Sugar is one of the purest commercialy distributed organic "chemicals" produced in millions of tons. There is no need to buy analytical grade sugar for crystal growing experiments, its only something for scientists or if you have to much money. Just take the regular sugar from the next supermarket - watch for sales (sugar can not rot) !





The white stuff we know as sugar is sucrose, a molecule composed of 12 atoms of carbon, 22 atoms of hydrogen, and 11 atoms of oxygen (C12H22O11). Like all compounds made from these three elements, sugar is a carbohydrate. It’s found naturally in most plants, but especially in sugarcane and sugar beets—hence their names


In general use, "sugar" is taken to mean sucrose, also called "table sugar" or saccharose, a disaccharide which is a white crystalline solid. It is the most commonly used sugar for altering the flavor and properties (such as mouthfeel, preservation, and texture) of beverages and food. Table sugar is commercially extracted from either sugar cane or sugar beet. The word sugar originates from the Sanskrit word sharkara (शर्करा) which means "sugar" or "pebble."


The "simple" sugars, or monosaccharides, such as glucose, are a store of energy which is used by biological cells. A sugar is denoted by any word on the ingredient list that ends with "ose".


For information on the other sugars, see monosaccharide and disaccharide.

In precise culinary terms, sugar is a type of food associated with one of the primary taste sensations, that of sweetness.




Physical and Crystallographical Properties



chemical names

: sucrose, saccharose, beta-D-Fructofuranosyl-alpha-D-glucopyranoside


: C12H22O11

molar mass

: 342.30

specific gravity

: 1.587

melting point

: 160 - 186 °C (under decomposition !)

crystal class

: monoclinic spenoidal





Sugar price reaches 25-year high - Friday, 03/02/2006

The price of sugar has broken through the 19 US cents per pound barrier to reach its highest price in 25 years.


The commodity soared by nearly a cent to close at 19.15 in international trade.

Ian White from Queensland Sugar says prices are spiking because it is the fourth year of a world sugar supply deficit. He says it is a very positive sign for the price of Australian sugar in the next 12 to 18 months.


"The value of sugar just in the raw without taking costs off and so forth is up over $500 a tonne and obviously that will translate into very good pool prices, certainly in the high 400s," he said.


Sugar was first produced in India. Alexander the Great's companions reported seeing "honey produced without the intervention of bees" and it remained exotic in Europe until the Arabs started cultivating it in Sicily and Spain. Only after the Crusades it began to rival honey as the sweetener in Europe. The Spanish began cultivating sugar cane in the West Indies in 1506, and in Cuba in 1523. It was first cultivated in Brazil 1532 by the Portuguese. [1]


Table sugar or sucrose is extracted from plant sources. The most important two sugar crops are sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) and sugar beets (Beta vulgaris), in which sugar can account for 12%–20% of the plant's dry weight. Some minor commercial sugar crops include the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), sorghum (Sorghum vulgare), and the sugar maple (Acer saccharum). In the financial year 2001/2002, 134.1 million tonnes of sugar were produced worldwide.


The major cane sugar producing countries are countries with warm climates, such as Brazil, India, China and Australia (in descending order). In 2001/2002 there was over twice as much sugar produced in developing countries as in developed countries. The greatest quantity of sugar is produced in Latin America, the United States and the Caribbean nations, and in the Far East.


The sugar beet regions are in cooler climates: North West and Eastern Europe, Northern Japan, plus some areas in the United States including California. The beet growing season ends with the start of harvesting around September. Harvesting and processing continues until March in some cases. The duration of harvesting and processing is influenced by the availability of processing plant capacity, and weather - harvested beet can be laid up until processed but frost damaged beet becomes effectively unprocessable.


The world's second largest sugar exporter is the EU. The Common Agricultural Policy of the EU sets maximum quotas for members production to match supply and demand, and a price. Excess production quota is exported (approx 5 million tonnes in 2003). Part of this is "quota" sugar which is subsidised from industry levies, the remainder (approx half) is "C quota" sugar which is sold at market price without subsidy. These subsidies and a high import tariff make it difficult for other countries to export to the EU states, or compete with it on world markets. The U.S. sets high sugar prices to support its producers with the effect that many sugar consumers have switched to corn syrup (beverage manufacturers) or moved out of the country (candy makers).


The sugar market is also under attack from the cheap prices of glucose syrups produced from wheat and corn (maize). In combination with artificial sweeteners, drink manufacturers can produce very low cost products.






The harvested vegetable material is crushed, and the juice is collected and filtered. The liquid is then treated (often with lime) to remove impurities, this is then neutralized with sulfur dioxide. The juice is then boiled, sediment settles to the bottom and can be dredged out, scum rises to the surface and this is skimmed off. The heat is removed and the liquid crystallises, usually while being stirred, to produce sugar crystals. It is usual to remove the uncrystallised syrup with a centrifuge. The resultant sugar is then either sold as is for use or processed further to produce lighter grades. This processing may be carried out in another factory in another country.





The washed beet is sliced, and the sugar extracted with hot water in a 'diffuser'. Impurities are precipitated with an alkaline solution "milk of lime" and carbon dioxide from the lime kiln. After filtration the juice is concentrated by evaporation to a content of about 70% solids. The sugar is extracted by controlled crystallisation. The sugar crystals are removed by a centrifuge and the liquid recycled in the crystalliser stages. Liquid from which no more sugar can be economically removed is lost from the process as molasses and used in cattle food.


The white sugar produced is sieved into different grades for selling.



Cane versus Beet


There is little perceptible difference between sugar produced from beet and that from cane. Testing for impurities can distinguish the two, and these have been developed to reduce fraudulent abuse of EU subsidies, and also aid detection of adulteration of fruit juice.


The residues of sugar production differ substantially and from place to place. While cane molasses can be used as an ingredient, molasses from sugar beet is unpalatable and generally used for industrial fermentation or as animal feedstuff. Cane and beet pulp can be burnt for fuel, but beet pulp is generally dried, pelleted and used as an animal feedstuff.





Types of culinary sugar


Raw sugars are yellow to brown sugars made from clarified cane juice boiled down to a crystalline solid with minimal chemical processing. Raw sugars are produced in the processing of sugar beet juice but only as intermediates en route to white sugar. Types of raw sugar available as a specialty item outside the tropics include demerara, muscovado, and turbinado. Mauritius and Malawi are significant exporters of such specialty sugars. Raw sugar is sometimes prepared as loaves rather than as a crystalline powder: in this technique, sugar and molasses are poured together into molds and allowed to dry. The resulting sugar cakes or loaves are called jaggery or gur in India, pingbian tong in China, and panela, panocha, pile, and piloncillo in various parts of Latin America.


Mill white sugar, also called plantation white, crystal sugar, or superior sugar, is raw sugar whose colored impurities have not been removed, but rather bleached white by exposure to sulfur dioxide. This is the most common form of sugar in sugarcane growing areas, but does not store or ship well; after a few weeks, its impurities tend to promote discoloration and clumping.


Blanco directo is a white sugar common in India and other south Asian countries. In producing blanco directo, many impurities are precipitated out of the cane juice by using phosphatation a treatment with phosphoric acid and calcium hydroxide similar to the carbonatation technique used in beet sugar refining. In terms of sucrose purity, blanco directo is more pure than mill white, but less pure than white refined sugar.

White refined sugar is the most common form of sugar in North America and Europe.


Refined sugar can be made by dissolving raw sugar and purifying it with a phosphoric acid method similar to that used for blanco directo, a carbonatation process involving calcium hydroxide and carbon dioxide, or by various filtration strategies. It is then further decolorized by filtration through a bed of activated carbon or bone char depending on where the processing takes place. Beet sugar refineries produce refined white sugar directly without an intermediate raw stage. White refined sugar is typically sold as granulated sugar, which has been dried to prevent clumping.


Granulated sugar is available in various crystal sizes, for home and industrial use depending on the application:

  • Coarse-grained sugars, such as sanding sugar are favored for decorating cookies (biscuits) and other desserts.

  • Normal granulated for table use is typically around 0.5 mm across

  • Finer grades are produced by selectively sieving the granulated sugar.

    • caster (0.35 mm) which is commonly used in baking

    • superfine sugar, and are favored for sweetening drinks or preparing meringue.

  • Finest grades

    • Powdered sugar, confectioner's sugar (0.060 mm), or icing sugar (0.024 mm), are produced by grinding sugar to a fine powder. A small amount of anti-caking agent to prevent clumping may be added, this is either cornstarch (1%-3%) or tri-calcium phosphate.


There are also sugar cubes for convenient consumption of a normal amount.

Brown sugars are obtained in the late stages of sugar refining, when sugar forms fine crystals with significant molasses content, or by coating white refined sugar with a cane molasses syrup. Their color and taste become stronger with increasing molasses content, as does their moisture retaining properties. They are also prone to hardening if exposed to the atmosphere although this is reversible.





Sucrose is a disaccharide of glucose (left) and fructose, important molecules in the body.






In biochemistry, a sugar is the simplest molecule that can be identified as a carbohydrate. These include monosaccharides and disaccharides, trisaccharides and the oligosaccharides; these being sugars composed of 1, 2, 3 or more units. Sugars contain either aldehyde groups (-CHO) or ketone groups (C=O), where there are carbon-oxygen double bonds, making the sugars reactive. Most sugars conform to (CH2O)n where n is between 3 and 7. A notable exception is deoxyribose, which as the name suggests is "missing" an oxygen. As well as being classified by their reactive group, sugars are also classified by the number of carbons they contain. Derivatives of trioses (C3H6O3) are intermediates in glycolysis. 


Pentoses ( 5 carbon sugars) include ribose and deoxyribose, which are present in nucleic acids. Ribose is also a component of several chemicals that are important to the metabolic process, including NADH and ATP. Hexoses ( 6 carbon sugars) include glucose which is a universal substrate for the production of energy in the form of ATP. Through photosynthesis plants produce glucose which is then converted for storage as an energy reserve in the form of other carbohydrates such as starch, or as in cane and beet as sucrose.


Many pentoses and hexoses are capable of forming ring structures. In these closed-chain forms the aldehyde or ketone group is not free, so many of the reactions typical of these groups cannot occur. Glucose in solution exists mostly in the ring form at equilibrium, with less than 0.1% of the molecules in the open-chain form.


Monosaccharides in a closed-chain form can form glycosidic bonds with other monosaccharides, creating disaccharides, such as sucrose, and polysaccharides such as starch. Glycosidic bonds must be hydrolysed or otherwise broken by enzymes before such compounds can be used in metabolism. After digestion and absorption the principal monosaccharides present in the blood and internal tissues are: glucose, fructose, and galactose.


The term "glyco-" indicates the presence of a sugar in an otherwise non-carbohydrate substance: for example, a glycoprotein is a protein to which one or more sugars are connected.


Simple sugars include sucrose, fructose, glucose, galactose, maltose, lactose and mannose. As far as disaccharides are concerned, the most common are sucrose (cane or beet sugar - made from one glucose and one fructose), lactose (milk sugar - made from one glucose and one galactose) and maltose (made of two glucoses). The formula of these disaccharides is C12H22O11.


Sucrose can be converted by hydrolysis into a syrup of fructose and glucose, producing what is called invert sugar. This resulting syrup is sweeter than the original sucrose, and is useful for making confections sweeter and softer in texture.




 Sugar factory California USA





Making sugar by evaporating cane juice was developed in India about 500 BC. Sugarcane is a tropical grass, probably native to New Guinea. In the course of prehistory, its culture spread throughout the Pacific Islands and into India. By 200 B.C., it was being grown in China as well. Westerners discovered sugarcane in the course of military expeditions into India. Nearchos, one of Alexander the Great's commanders, described it as "a reed that gives honey without bees."


Originally, the cane was chewed raw to extract its sweetness. Sugar refining was developed in the Middle East, India and China, where it became a staple of cooking and desserts. In early refining methods, the cane was ground or pounded to extract the juice, and the juice then boiled down or dried in the sun to yield sugary solids that resembled gravel. The Sanskrit word for sugar (sharkara), also means gravel. Similarly, the Chinese term for table sugar is "gravel sugar" (Traditional Chinese:砂糖)

Later sugar spread to other areas of the world through trade. It arrived in Europe with the arrival of the Moors. Crusaders also brought sugar home with them after their campaigns in the Holy Land, as there they encountered caravans carrying this "sweet salt" as it was called. While sugar cane could not be grown in northern Europe, sugar could be extracted from certain beets and these began to be widely cultivated around 1801, after the British control of the seas during the Napoleonic wars isolated mainland Europe from the Caribbean.



The history of sugar in the West


In the 1390s, a better press, which doubled the juice obtained from the cane, was developed. This permitted economic expansion of sugar plantations to Andalusia and the Algarve. In the 1420s, sugar was carried to the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores.

In 1493, Christopher Columbus stopped, intending to stay only four days, at Gomera in the Canary Islands, for wine and water. Columbus became romantically involved with the Governor of the Island, Beatrice. He stayed a month. When he finally sailed she gave him cuttings of sugarcane, the first to reach the New World.


The Portuguese took sugar to Brazil. Hans Staden, published in 1555, writes that by 1540 there were 800 sugar mills on Santa Catalina Island and another 2000 up the north coast of Brazil, Demarara and Surinam. Approximately 3000 small mills built before 1550 in the New World created an unprecedented demand for cast iron gears, levers, axles and other implements. Specialist trades in mold making and iron casting were inevitably created in Europe by the expansion of sugar. Sugar mill construction is the missing link of the technological skills needed for the Industrial Revolution that is recognized as beginning in the first part of the 1600s.




C and H Sugar factory California USA



After 1625, the Dutch carried sugarcane from South America to the Caribbean islands from Barbados to the Virgin Islands. In the years 1625 to 1750, sugar was worth its weight in gold. Price declined slowly as production became multi-sourced especially through British colonial policy. Sugar production also increased in the American Colonies, Cuba, and Brazil. African slaves became the dominant plantation worker as they were resistant to the diseases of malaria and yellow fever. European indentured servants were in shorter supply, susceptible to disease and a less economic investment. Local Native Americans had been reduced by European diseases like smallpox.


With the European colonization of the Americas, the Caribbean became the world's largest source of sugar. Sugar cane could be grown on these islands using slave labour at vastly lower prices than cane sugar imported from the East. Thus the economies of entire islands such as Guadaloupe and Barbados were based on sugar production. The largest sugar producer in the world, by 1750, was the French colony known as Saint-Domingue, which is today the independent country of Haiti. Jamaica was another major producer in the 1700s.


During the eighteenth century, sugar became enormously popular and went through a series of booms. The main reason for the heightened demand and production of sugar was a great change in the eating habits of many Europeans. For example, they began consuming jams, candy, tea, coffee, cocoa, processed foods, and other sweet victuals in much greater numbers. Reacting to this increasing craze, the islands took advantage of the situation and began harvesting sugar in extreme amounts. In fact, they produced up to ninety percent of the sugar that the western Europeans consumed. Of course some islands were more successful than others when it came to producing the product. For instance, Barbados and the British Leewards can be said to have been the most successful in the production of sugar because it counted for ninety-three and ninety-seven percent of the island’s exports, respectively.


Planters later began developing ways to boost production even more. For example, they began using more animal manure when growing their crops. They also developed more advanced mills and began using better types of sugar cane. Despite these and other improvements, the prices of sugar reached soaring heights, especially during events such as the revolt against the Dutch and the Napoleonic wars. Sugar was a highly desired product, and the islands knew exactly how to take advantage of the situation.

As Europeans established sugar plantations on these larger Caribbean islands, prices fell, especially in Britain. What had previously been a luxury good began, by the eighteenth century, to be commonly consumed by all levels of society. At first most sugar in Britain was used in tea, but later candies and chocolates became extremely popular. Sugar was commonly sold in solid cones and required a sugar nip, a pliers-like tool, to break off pieces.


Sugar cane quickly exhausts the soil and larger islands with fresher soil were pressed into production in the nineteenth century. For example, it was in this century that Cuba rose as the richest land in the Caribbean (with sugar being its dominant crop) because it was the only major island that was free of mountainous terrain. Instead, nearly three-quarters of its land formed a rolling plain which was ideal for planting crops. Cuba also prospered above other islands because they used better methods when harvesting the sugar crops. They had been introduced to modern milling methods such as water mills, enclosed furnaces, steam engines, and vacuum pans. All these things increased their production and production rate.


After the world's only successful slave revolution established the independent nation of Haiti, sugar production in that country declined and Cuba replaced Saint-Domingue as the world's largest producer. Production spread to South America as well as to new European colonies in Africa and the Pacific.




Table sugar crystals



The rise of beet


In 1747 the German chemist Andreas Marggraf identified sucrose in beet root. This discovery remained a mere curiosity for some time, but eventually his student Franz Achard built a sugarbeet processing factory at Cunern in Silesia, under the patronage of Frederick William III of Prussia. While never profitable, this plant operated from 1801 until being destroyed during the Napoleonic Wars.


Napoleon, cut off from Caribbean imports by a British blockade and at any rate not wanting to fund British merchants, banned sugar imports in 1813. The beet sugar industry that emerged in its place grew, and today, beet sugar enjoys approximately 30% of world sugar production.


While it is no longer grown by slaves, sugar growing in developing countries continues to this day to be associated with workers earning minimal wages and living in extreme poverty. Cuba was a large producer of sugar in the 20th century until the collapse of the Soviet Union took away their export market and the industry collapsed.


In the developed countries, the sugar industry is machine reliant, with a low requirement for manpower. A large beet refinery producing around 1,500 tonnes of sugar a day needs a permanent workforce of about 150 for 24 hour production.





Beginning in the late 18th century, sugar production became increasingly mechanized. The steam engine was first used to power a sugar mill in Jamaica in 1768, and soon thereafter, steam replaced direct firing as the source of process heat.

In 1813, the British chemist Edward Charles Howard invented a sugar refining method in which the cane juice was boiled not in an open kettle, but in a closed vessel heated by steam and held under partial vacuum. At reduced pressure, water boils at a lower temperature, and this development both saved fuel and reduced the amount of sugar lost through caramelization. Further gains in fuel efficiency were achieved through the multiple-effect evaporator, designed by the African-American engineer Norbert Rillieux perhaps as early as the 1820s, although the first working model was not built until 1845. This system consisted of a series of vacuum pans, each held at a lower pressure than the previous. The vapors from each pan were used to heat the next, and little heat wasted. Today, multiple-effect evaporators are employed widely in many industries for evaporating water.


The process of separating the yummy sugar from the molasses also received mechanical attention: the centrifuge was first applied to this task by David Weston in Hawaii in 1852.



Health concerns


In 2003, a report was commissioned by four U.N. agencies, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), compiled by a panel of 30 international experts. It stated that sugar should not account for more than 10% of a healthy diet. However, the Sugar Association[2] of the US insists that other evidence indicates that a quarter of our food and drink intake can safely consist of sugar.


There is an on-going argument as to the value of extrinsic sugar (sugar added to food) compared to that of intrinsic sugar (sugar, seldom sucrose, naturally present in food).

In the United States sugar has also been attributed as a leading cause of diabetes and obesity. As stated in the Diabetes in America, 2nd Edition [3] more and more children at younger ages are becoming victims of this deadly disease.




Tate & Lyle Sugar factory Liverpool England



Sugar and hyperactivity


There is common belief among the general public that eating too much sugar (not only sucrose, but other varieties such as glucose) will cause some children to become hyperactive—giving rise to the term "sugar high". Recent studies have not shown a link between the consumption of sugar and hyperactivity levels, even when the researchers focused on children with a presumed "sugar-sensitivity" [4]. The belief in the possibility of a sugar-high among parents and teachers may cause them to perceive children being more energetic and excited after consumption of sweets and sugary beverages through observer bias.


Others believe that the hyperactive effects of sugar can be seen equally in children and adults. On average Americans eat or drink 5 pounds of sugar a month, drastically higher than 10 years ago due to the fact that sugar is in many foods under many different names.



Sugar economics


In many industrialized countries, sugar is among the most heavily subsidized agricultural products. The European Union, the United States, and Japan all maintain elevated price floors for sugar through subsidizing domestic production and imposing high tariffs on imports. In recent years, sugar prices in these countries have been three times the price on the international market.


In international trade bodies, especially the World Trade Organization, the "G20" countries led by Brazil have argued that because their cane sugar exports are essentially excluded from these sugar markets, they receive lower prices than they would under free trade. While both the European Union and United States maintain trade agreements whereby certain developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) can sell certain quantities of sugar into their markets, free of the usual import tariffs, countries outside these preferred trade regimes have complained that these arrangements violate the "most favored nation" principle of international trade.


In 2004, the WTO sided with a group of cane sugar exporting nations led by Brazil, and ruled that the EU sugar regime and the accompanying ACP-EU Sugar Protocol, whereby a group of African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries are given preferential access to the European sugar market, are illegal. In response, the European Commission proposed on 22 June 2005 to radically reform the EU sugar regime, cutting prices by 39% and eliminating all EU sugar exports. The African, Caribbean, Pacific and Least developed country sugar exporters have reacted with dismay to the EU sugar proposals, arguing for a fairer reform of the EU regime which would be pro-development and meaningful towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.


Small quantities of sugar, especially speciality grades of sugar, are sold as 'fair trade' commodities; these products are produced and sold with the understanding that a larger-than-usual fraction of the revenue supports small farmers in the developing world.




During the past 10 years, global sugar consumption has increased by an average of approximately 2.4% per annum, higher than the long-term annual average of about 2%. Consumption is expected to reach 147 million tons in 2004/05 season.







History and culture








Sugar and hyperactivity









The international sugar season runs from September to August

More than 100 countries produce sugar, 74% of which is made from sugar cane grown primarily in the tropical and sub-tropical zones of the southern hemisphere, and the balance from sugar beet which is grown mainly in the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere. Prior to 1990, about 40% of sugar was made from beet but this has decreased to current levels as cane sugar producers have made considerable gains in expanding their sugar markets due to the lower costs of cane sugar production.


Currently, 70% of the world's sugar is consumed in the country of origin whilst the balance is traded on world markets. Because of the residual nature of the world market, the free market price is one of the most volatile of all commodity prices.

The five largest exporters in 2004/05, Brazil, the EU, Australia, Thailand and Guatemala, are expected to supply approximately 79% of all world free market exports. South Africa is the ninth largest exporter.

Top ten producers 2004/05:


2004/05 est.








17.757 [1]





6.210 [2]





0 [-]





0.109 [17]





0.173 [14]





0.054 [19]





4.465 [3]





3.361 [4]





1.168 [7]





0.109 [17]






Despite the rise in world raw sugar prices during the past year, preferential prices in Europe and the United States prices remain at a considerable premium. The continued strength of the Euro has further increased ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) and SPS (Special Protocol Sugar) prices in US$ terms.








Global sugar production in 2004/05 is estimated at 144 million tons, 75% of which is produced by the world’s top ten sugar producers. With the enlargement of the EU to 25 countries, 21 of which produce sugar, total production in this region compared to last year has increased by about 5 million tons to approximately 21 million tons.





Approximately 70% of total world sugar production is consumed in the country of origin with the balance traded on global markets. As the world’s largest sugar producer, Brazil remains the world’s dominant sugar exporter.





For the second year in succession, per capita sugar consumption in China has increased, due primarily to the recent upturn in that country’s economy. Consumption trends in other countries, however, are similar to previous years.





As a result of the current global sugar production deficit, world raw sugar prices, whilst remaining volatile throughout the season, saw an upward adjustment during the year, rising from the nearby futures price of US7.15 cents/lb in March 2004 to over US9.00 cents/lb by March 2005.






Domestic sugar prices in the South African Customs Union remain substantially below those of some developed nations.  The last (2005) independent survey of international sugar production costs revealed that Southern African countries remain amongst the world's lowest-cost sugar producers.








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There are two simple basic methods to grow crystals from a solution:-

  • The Evaporation Method

  • The Slowly Cooling Method


Using the evaporation method you simply evaporate the solvent (in this case water) of your saturated solution to get crystals. Its quite simple but may take a long time. If the solubility is low you may wait a very long time to get nicely sized crystals. Fortunately in the case of sugar the solubility is very high.

Using the slowly cooling method you produce a hot saturated solution cool it down slowly to get the crystals.

The trick here is to let it cool down really slowly.  The slower a solution cools down, the  bigger and finer the crystals will be. Unfortunately, this method does not work with substances which do not change solubility greatly with rising temperature (like regular table salt) or which mixes solubility goes down with rising temperatures.  Fortunately the solubility of sugar rises greatly when the temperature goes up. The good thing is this method is quick you will get nice sized crystals within several hours, but try it over  days for comparison purposes.


The Evaporation Method


Dissolve per 100 grams of water 230 grams of sugar heat up the solution until it boils and becomes clear. Then, if you want, filter trough a regular coffee filter with paper. But filtering is not absolutely necessary. The solution may have a slight yellow hue. For heating up the solution use a cooking pot or a vessel made from heat resistant glass (pyrex), as for example replacement jars for electric coffee machines. You may also use the microwave but of course only use vessels which are suitable for this (no metal or metal parts !).


Sugar beet factory Idaho USA (painting)



To grow the crystals you can use any kind of glass or plastic container with a wide open mouth. For example preservation glasses etc. You should produce at least about 500 ml of solution better around 1000 ml (or a quart). For a method how to calculate a specific volume of growing solution see the "Calculating a Solution" part down below.

After the covered solution has cooled down so after two or three days there should be some sugar crystals at the bottom of the jar. If not throw in some little grains of sugar. Let the solution stay alone and covered for about a week.

If you got no crystals on the bottom, yet even after throwing in some sugar grains your solution can not be saturated and won't work.

This may happen either because you made a mistake with the amounts of water and sugar used or your room temperature is well above 20 °C (app. 70 °F). To avoid mistakes in the amounts of water and sugar used, use an electronic kitchen scale which should have at least a resolution of 2 grams (better 1 gm) most can be switched from oz./lbs to metric, metric is easier to calculate. Also weigh the water as its much more accurate as measuring the volume.

If your room temperature is well above 20 °C you have to adjust the initial recipe. If you look at the solubility table down below the solubility of sugar at 20 °C is 203 gms per 100 gms of water. In the recipe we took 230 gms (27 gms added as security gap). If you work for example at a room temperature of 30 °C you adjust the recipe to 250 gms per 100 gms of water (again app. 30 gms as security gap).

Okay everything worked fine, there are some crystals at the bottom and the solution rested for a week. Now pour the solution in your final freshly cleaned growing vessel. You may filter but its not absolutely necessary and filtering the viscose solution may take for ever.

Now you need a seed crystal, usually you will find at the bottom nicely sized sugar crystals already suitable for this purpose or you may use a bought candy sugar crystal (that's cheating !). Dry up the crystal with some paper towel and fix it with a slip knot to a thread of "invisible sewing thread" which is a thin clear thread of nylon or use very thin fishing line. Don't use regular threads made out of cotton etc. as they work like a wick and are easily visible in the ready crystal.

Fix the thread to a piece of wood or a pencil for example so that the crystal suspends somehow above 2 - 3 cm (about one inch) the bottom of your growing vessel but well below the surface of the solution. Before doing that rinse the crystal on the thread shortly in cold water.

The growing vessel must stay open to allow the water to evaporate but you may cover it with a thin paper towel (most paper towels are multi layer so you may split them) to prevent flies, wasps, dust etc. from falling into the solution.  As the water evaporates your seed crystal will grow.  This will not work if you are in a very humid climate or if your room temperature changes and goes up.

As evaporation goes on there may grow additional crystals on the bottom of the vessel on the thread or on the sides. They grow on the cost of your desired main crystal. If so, pour the solution in a freshly cleaned other vessel rinse the crystal and the thread shortly in cold water (remove additional crystals which may have formed on the thread) and go on with evaporation.




Sugar factory Brooklyn USA



The Slowly Cooling Method


If you produced the saturated solution for the evaporation method and found some crystals at the bottom you already used the slowly cooling method to produce crystals ! To get bigger and better ones you just have to add more sugar (larger "security gap") and take care that the solution cools down very slowly.

A good basic recipe is to add 230 to 300 gms of sugar to 100 gms of water, heat up until the solution boils and gets clear. You may filter if you want but its not absolutely necessary. Pour the solution in your final growing vessel and close it tightly. Take care that the the solution cools down very slowly by insulating it and also avoid any moving, shaking or vibration of the solution.

You may give the crystals a better surface to grow, a matrix, if you put in a piece of rock, or have it suspended on a thread, or use a metal paper clip on a thread.
It takes a few hours to days, depending on how much solution you take and how good your insulation is, until the solution has cooled down to room temperature and the crystals are ready.

They main problems you may have with the slowly cooling method is that the solution does not cool down slowly enough, which results in small crystals or your solution has cooled down but there are no crystals at all !

What happened ? Super-saturation ! Your solution contains much more sugar as "allowed" since there have not formed any seed crystals spontaneously. If the solution is disturbed or you throw in some little sugar grains crystallisation starts immediately.
Since the growing velocity of sugar crystals is small, solutions are often slightly supersaturated when they have cooled down and so the crystals still grow a little while even if the temperature does not change anymore. So allow the crystals some extra time.


The Trick with the Thermal Ballast


As more volume of solution you have as longer it will take to cool down. The reason is that the surface of your vessel is growing by power of two but your volume and so the amount of heat energy is growing by power of three if you enlarge the dimension of your vessel. The heat loss depends on the surface area available. To give you a simple example lets say we have a cubic container of 1 inch, so the surface is 6 square inches and the volume one cubic inch. Now lets take a container of 10 inches size the volume will be 10*10*10 = 1000 cubic inches but the surface only 6*10*10 = 600 inches. With the small container you have a volume/surface ratio of 1 to 6 with the big one a ratio of 10 to 6 and its a good guess that cooling down takes ten times longer. So that was the physical principle !

However who wants to handle gigantic amounts of solution just to grow some little crystals ? Nobody told you that all of the volume must be solution! Only a small amount of solution and a large amount of water will have the same effect if you keep them separated.

The pictures down below explain that to you. Just heat up a big cooking pot of water and separately prepare some solution. Then put the container with the hot solution in your cooking pot with hot boiling water. Take care that both are closing tightly. If you put your cooking pot in a big box with insulation material, like styrofoam, cotton, rock wool, saw dust etc. you get a real slow cooling down of several days up to over a week. If you use an electronic thermometer you can watch the temperature falling.

Calculating a Solution


You often will have the problem that you need a specific volume of solution to fill a growing vessel efficiently. Lets take for example you want to use the slowly cooling method, have a 1000 ml jar and you want to have about 800 mls of solution which contains 260 gms of sugar per 100 gms of water.

The specific gravity of sugar is 1.587, so 260 gms have a volume of 260/1.587 = 163.8 ml + the 100 gms of water (which are almost exactly 100 mls)

you get a volume of 263.8 mls.

To fill up 800 ml you need 800/263.8= 3.03 times your basic recipe.

That is 3.03*100 gms = 303 gms of water and 3.03*260 gms = 787.8 gms of sugar.

If you take 300 gms of water and 790 gms of sugar you will also be fine.

If you do not want to calculate by hand you can use this little calculator.





If you follow this guide should learn something about growing sugar crystals and the basics of solution growth. The principles are the same growing other crystals.






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