This is the final product, but I must tell you that this photo falls short on showing it's true beauty!


Rock Candy is the product of further refining, by recrystallization of pure cane sugar. It is the purest form of sugar available, because all impurities are excluded as the large crystals form. Rock Candy uses the same process that produces quartz and diamonds. It is made by busting apart the sugar (sucrose) molecular crystal lattice, and then allowing it to reform in conditions that produce larger, purer crystals.

Homemade rock candy is commonly formed by allowing a supersaturated solution of sugar and water to crystallize onto a string or some other surface suitable for crystal nucleation. Heating the water before adding the sugar allows more sugar to dissolve and thus produces larger crystals. Crystals form after several days. Food coloring is often added to the mixture to produce colored candy as well as flavoring.

Rock candy is a different product from British rock, also called seaside rock, which more closely resembles a candy cane. The word "candy" is less frequently used for confectionery in the UK.

For centuries Rock Candy has been recognized as having therapeutic and preservative qualities. In the past, sugar was used only as a medicine or preservative until the 18th century. The earliest known date that white sugar was refined was about 200 C.E

There are several references to 'Rock Candy' in literature, such as the poems of the Persian poet Jalal-ad-Din Rumi who lived inTurkey in the middle 1200's. One English reference in 1584 sums up the virtues of Rock Candy, "White sugar is not so good for phlegume, as that which is called Sugar Candie." Shakespeare in Henry IV (1596) referred to its therapeutic value as a throat soother for long winded talkers.

During the late 1800's there were several Rock Candy companies in the USA. They supplied various forms of crystals and syrups as cough-cold remedies, soda fountain syrups and confections. It was also used in saloons and bars (Rock & Rye - Rock Candy dissolved in rye whiskey) and it was thought to cure the common cold. Or maybe if you drank enough of the Rock & Rye; you wouldn't remember that you had a cold!

Rock sugar is used in Chinese cuisine as well as traditional Chinese medicine. It is used to sweeten tong sui (sweet soups) and chrysanthemum tea, as well as various medicinal preparations and Chinese liquors.

Rock candy is called 'Mishri' in Hindi and is widely used in India with aniseed (Saunf in Hindi) as a mouth freshener, especially after meals. One can find these being offered along with the check/bill, at most restaurants in India. Rock candy is called 'Kalkandu' in Tamil and is commonly used in Tamil Cuisine especially in Jaffna (Northern Sri lanka).

It was also used in Thailand as money, for it was easily accessed and distributed. You could bet the candy on many things, and bet pieces or pounds.

Rock candy was also used in Mexico to make Sugar Skulls on the celebration of the Day of the Dead. Children would make the rock candy in the shapes of skulls by special strings and then decorate them with icing and jewels. These were eaten after the fiesta.

By the 19th Century the Rock Candy industry was almost entirely gone, since soda manufacturers switched to cheap corn syrups and medicated cough drops replaced the sugar crystals. However; in the 1960s Rock Candy made a comeback, and was sold on a stick, and in the 1970s colors and flavors were added to the process.

What is Sugar?

In non-scientific use, the term sugar refers to sucrose (also called "table sugar" or "saccharose") - a white crystalline solid disaccharide. Humans most commonly use sucrose as their sugar of choice for altering the flavor and properties (such as mouthfeel, preservation, and texture) of beverages and food. Commercially-produced table sugar comes either from sugar cane or from sugar beet. Manufacturing and preparing food may involve other sugars, including palm sugar and fructose, generally obtained from corn (maize) or fruit.

In the informal sense, the word "sugar" principally refers to crystalline sugars; but a great many foods exist which principally contain sugar: these generally appear as syrups, or have specific names such as "honey" or "molasses." Many of these comprise mostly sugar; and sugar may dissolve in water to form a syrup.

Scientifically, sugar refers to any monosaccharide or disaccharide. Monosaccharides (also called "simple sugars"), such as glucose, store chemical energy which biological cells convert to other types of energy. In a list of ingredients, any word that ends with "ose" will likely denote a sugar. Sometimes such words may also refer to any types of carbohydrates soluble in water.

In culinary terms, the foodstuff known as sugar delivers a primary taste sensation of sweetness. Apart from the many forms of sugar and of sugar-containing foodstuffs, alternative non-sugar-based sweeteners exist, and particularly interest people who have problems with their blood sugar level (such as diabetics) and people who wish to limit their calorie-intake. Both natural and synthetic examples exist with no significant carbohydrate (calorie) content, for instance stevia (a herb) and saccharin (produced from naturally occurring but not necessarily naturally edible substances by inducing appropriate chemical reactions).


Biochemists regard sugars as relatively simple carbohydrates. Sugars include monosaccharides, disaccharides, trisaccharides and the oligosaccharides - containing 1, 2, 3, and 4 or more monosaccharide units respectively. Sugars contain either aldehyde groups (-CHO) or ketone groups (C=O), where there are carbon-oxygen double bonds, making the sugars reactive. Most simple sugars (monosaccharides) conform to (CH2O)n where n is between 3 and 7. A notable exception, deoxyribose, as its name suggests, has a "missing" oxygen atom. All saccharides with more than one ring in their structure result from two or more monosaccharides joined by glycosidic bonds with the resultant loss of a molecule of water (H2O) per bond.

As well as using classifications based on their reactive group, chemists may also subdivide sugars according to the number of carbons they contain. Derivatives of trioses (C3H6O3) are intermediates in glycolysis. Pentoses (5-carbon sugars) include ribose and deoxyribose, which form part of nucleic acids. Ribose also forms a component of several chemicals that have importance in the metabolic process, including NADH and ATP. Hexoses (6-carbon sugars) include glucose, a universal substrate for the production of energy in the form of ATP. Through photosynthesis plants produce glucose, which has the formula C6H12O6, and then convert it 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 can form ring structures. In these closed-chain forms, the aldehyde or ketone group remains unfree, 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). Enzymes must hydrolyse or otherwise break these glycosidic bonds before such compounds will metabolise. After digestion and absorption the principal monosaccharides present in the blood and internal tissues include glucose, fructose, and galactose.

The prefix "glyco-" indicates the presence of a sugar in an otherwise non-carbohydrate substance. Note for example glycoproteins, proteins with which one or more sugars have connections.

Monosaccharides include fructose, glucose, galactose and mannose. Disaccharides occur most commonly as 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). These disaccharides have the formula C12H22O11.

Hydrolysis can convert sucrose into a syrup of fructose and glucose, producing invert sugar. This resulting syrup, sweeter than the original sucrose, has uses in making confections because it does not crystallize as easily and thus produces a smoother finished product.

What are Crystals?

In chemistry and mineralogy, a crystal is a solid in which the constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are packed in a regularly ordered, repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions
The word crystal originates from the Greek word "Krystallos" meaning clear ice, as it was thought to be an especially solid form of water. The word once referred particularly to quartz, or "rock crystal".

Most metals encountered in everyday life are polycrystals. Crystals are often symmetrically intergrown to form crystal twins.

Growing crystals is a slow and careful process because the crystals grow by adding single layers of molecules. It takes millions of individual units of atoms called cells to make a crystal, and these cells repeat themselves in all directions making geometric shapes with flat surfaces called crystal faces. Sugar is an isometric, cubic crystal.

Sugar crystals are grown by disturbing the balance that exists in a sugar and water solution. This is done by lowering the temperature of the solution, however the solution must be saturated. In otherwords; the water has to dissolve all the sugar possible at a given temperature. The warmer the water, the more sugar the water can dissolve. That is why it is important to heat the water first before dissolving the sugar in it.

When the saturated sugar solution is cooled, it becomes supersaturated. The sugar in the solution then begins to crystallize - changing from a liquid to a solid. As the sugar crystals begin to grow; the atoms that make up the sugar align themselves and bond with atoms of the sugar crystal that is growing. Energy is released and the cycle of bonding and growing continues. As each day goes by you will be able to see the crystals getting larger.

Making Your Rock Candy:

What You Will Need:
1 quart saucepan- Don't use a large pan!
1 glass container with a lid
2 cups of regular table sugar
3/4 measuring cup
a few drops of food coloring
1/4 teaspoon of flavoring (such as peppermint, lemon, cherry or strawberry extract)
1 thin wooden stick-I prefer to grow my sugar crystals on sticks.

A seeded wooden stick.

Jar and lid with holes in the lid.

I seed my sticks with the previous sugar solution, that way I'm ready to go for the next time. The reason for seeding the sticks is that you will have better formed cystals when they can attach to a rough surface. If you do not have any sticks pre-seeded you can dip them lightly in some corn syrup and roll them in some table sugar. Let them dry before preceding.

1. Add the flavoring and coloring to the jar. You can add more coloring later if you like.

2. Measure exactly 3/4 cup of water and pour it into the saucepan. Heat on medium-high until the water comes to a rolling boil.

3. Pour 2 cups of table sugar into the water and stir with a spatula. You want to stir continuously. At first the solution will look cloudy or milky, but after about 2 minutes the solution will become clear. You should be able to see the bottom of the saucepan. At this point continue stirring for about 1-2 minutes more to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. these times are approximate - go by the visual appearance of the solution. Do not allow the solution to get too hot, because if it does you will not be able to grow the crystals.

4. After all the sugar granules have dissolved - immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the solution into the jar. Wait until the jar is warm before touching it or moving it. Caution: The jar will be extremely hot after you pour the solution into it.

This is a good time to add extra coloring.

5. Insert the bare end of the seeded wooden stick into the center hold of the plastic lid. Lower the seeded stick into the solution, so that the lid is resting on top of the jar and the stick is hanging straight and centered. Put a layer of plastic wrap over the other holes or just use scotch tape...remember this is the precipitation stage.

6. Keep the jar in a place that is at a temperature between 70-85 degrees, and where it will not be disturbed. Each day you should be able to notice growth on the stick. Usually by the end of 7 days the growth has stopped. During these 7 days, you might need to bring the stick up a little - so that the crystals do not adhere to the bottom of the jar.

7.If you want you crystals to grow even larger take off the plastic wrap or scotch tape-evaporation method, causing the water to evaporate. This way more sugar must change from a liquid to a solid. The crystals will grow much slower, but you can do this until all the water is evaporated (this can take many weeks) or until you want to eat the candy.

8.When you are satisfied with the size of your rock candy, then pour the rest of the solution out and let the candy dry overnight.

The 1st 24 hours.

The 7th Day.

The 3rd Day.

Rock Candy

Recipes From The Past

As I was reading about Rock Candy I came across some interesting recipes, so I thought that I would list a few of them.

Bean's French Copying Ink consists of 1650 parts by weight of beer 95 of gall nuts 30 of gum Arabic 40 of calcined sulphate of iron 20 of tormentil root Potentilla tormentilla 10 of lampblack 10 of rock candy 60 of white sugar and 5 of honey.

The techno-chemical receipt book: containing several thousand receipts, covering the latest, most important and most useful discoveries in chemical technology, ... application in the arts and the industries byTheodore Brannt, William Henry Wahl; Published: 1887

Elastic Moulds for Galvanoplastie Copies in very high relief can be prepared from 20 parts of glue and 2 of brown rock candy. Both substances are dissolved in sufficient hot water to form on cooling a stiff jelly. After the elastic moulds have been prepared they are used as a matrix for the stift moulds by pouring into them a tepid mixture of 12 parts of yellow wax 12 of mutton suet and 4 of rosin. This mass on cooling becomes very solid.

The techno-chemical receipt book: containing several thousand receipts, covering the latest, most important and most useful discoveries in chemical technology, ... application in the arts and the industries byTheodore Brannt, William Henry Wahl; Published: 1887

Freckle Lotion for the cure of Freckles Tan or Sun burnt face and hands

Take I/2 lb clear ox gall 4 Jrm each of camphor and burnt alum 1 drm borax 1/2 oz rock salt and rock candy This should be mixed and shaken well several times a day for three weeks until the gall becomes transparent then strain it very carefully through filtering paper and apply it to the face during the day wash it off at night The article if properly made  will not fail of its purpose.

How to Do it: Or, Directions for Knowing and Doing Everything Needful; Published 1864; John H. Tingley

Home made cough syrup
Get two ounces of Iceland moss at the drug store Take four large poppy heads seeds and all and one tablespoonful of whole barley Add to all this three pints of water which should be slowly boiled down to two pints then strain Add to this one pound of rock candy The old fashioned brown rock candy is preferable but the ordinary white rock candy can be used Keep in a cool place The dose is a tablespoonful for adults It may be taken as often as once an hour if the cough is very troublesome For children the dose is one teaspoonful for infants half a teaspoonful This remedy is good for coughs that are accompanied by tickling in the throat and it also modifies the terrible coughing spells that sometimes occur during the course of whooping cough.

Receipts and remedies: Useful hints for everyone on health, beauty, clothing, food. The housewife's complete handbook  by Louis Andrew Flemming; Published 1908 The Penn Publishing Company

To rock candy Violets

Pick the leaves off the violets then boil some of the finest sugar till it blows very strong which pour into your candyiog pan being made of tin in the form of a dripping pan about three inches deep then strew the leaves of the flowers as thick on the top as you can and put it into a hot stove for eight or ten days when you see it is hard candied break a hole in one corner of it and drain all the syrup that will run from it break it out and lay it on heaps in plates to dry in the stove.

The complete confectioner, or, Housekeeper's guide to a simple and speedy method of understanding the whole art of confectionary: The various ways of preserving ... of fare for desserts for private families by Hannah Glasse, Maria Wilson; Published :1800

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