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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Make Sugar & String Easter Eggs

Here's a fun Easter project for you: crystallize sugar onto string to make an Easter egg basket or a special holiday decoration. The project is similar to growing rock candy crystals except these sugar crystals form much more quickly and are used to form a construction material rather than a tasty crystal treat.

Transcript: How to Make Rock Candy

Hi, I'm Dr. Anne Helmenstine for Have you seen brightly colored rock candy in a store or used to sweeten a drink? Rock candy is simply sugar crystals. I'm going to show you how you can make rock candy yourself, in any color or flavor you like. Are you ready? Let's get started.

Rock Candy Ingredients

The only two ingredients you need for rock candy are sugar and water, though you can add food coloring and flavoring if you want colored and flavored crystals.

Prepare the Rock Candy Crystal Solution

In a saucepan, heat at least three cups of sugar together with one cup of water. I know it seems like a lot of sugar, but you want to dissolve as much sugar as possible into the water. While stirring, bring the sugar solution to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and, if you want, add a few drops of food coloring and 1/2 teaspoon of flavoring. Any of the flavoring extracts found in the spice aisle of the grocery store will work, such as lemon, cherry, or mint.

While the sugar solution is cooling, prepare a container for growing your rock candy. Suspend a string or popsicle stick into a glass or jar. Remember you are planning to eat the rock candy, so use clean materials and don't weight your string with anything you wouldn't want in your mouth. Don't let the string or stick touch the sides or bottom of your container.

Growing Rock Candy Crystals

Pour the sugar solution into your jar. If you have leftover solution, you can save it. The sugar solution won't go bad. Grow your rock candy somewhere that it won't be disturbed. Evaporation is important, so cover the top of the container with a coffee filter or paper towel to keep the solution clean yet allow air to circulate.

You'll start to see crystals growing in a day or two. Be patient - crystals will form as the water evaporates. If you start to see crystals growing on the top of the container, break them off and eat them or throw them away. If crystals start to grow on the sides or bottom of your container, just transfer the rock candy and crystal solution to a clean glass or jar.

Allow your rock candy to grow until you are pleased with the crystals. You can eat the rock candy right away or, if you want to keep it for later, allow it to dry and store it in an airtight container.

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