Make Your Own Rock Candy

August 17, 2011

48

Homemade Rock Candy -- A fun family DIY | wearenotmartha.com

Throughout my scholarly career, there were two things I was never any good at. Science and art. Fine, three things. I was horrific when it came to all things math, too. Until I reached college and was allowed to take logic (math with words!) and ended up being very good at it. Probably because it’s all about argumentation. Which I guess I’m good at? Oops.

My point is, this post is all about two things I’m horrible at. Science and art (well, crafts, anyway). You see, ever since I started wedding planning, I’ve been obsessed with DIYing. Seeing that I’m the least crafty person on Earth, this could get dangerous fast. Just ask Chris. Or my mom. But since I want our wedding to be completely US and made from our hearts and souls, I’m going to try my best to add little touches throughout. So, that’s where the idea for this post was born.

You see, I had a really bright idea to make our own rock candy for the wedding. That is until I realized what making rock candy entails. Basically, if we started making the rock candy now, we could probably have enough for the wedding… But much of it would likely be stale… And we would have burned through about 100 pounds of sugar. At least. So, I don’t recommend making these for your next major event. But I do recommend making them for fun. And when I say fun, I mean good old fashioned fun. Obviously. If you have kids, even better. But if not, well then you won’t have to explain all the science behind rock candy to anyone, so maybe that’s for the best.

But please know you have to be incredibly patient to make rock candy. Another trait that I apparently lack.

The process is simple. So simple, you’ll laugh at how many times I failed. But when it worked? It was pretty awesome.

Homemade Rock Candy (makes 2 rock candies):
Print the instructions!

  • 2 Wood skewers or threads
  • 2 glass jars
  • 2 C water
  • 3.5 C sugar
  • Food coloring

If you can, prepare your skewer (or thread) a day ahead of time. Simply wet it and cover it completely in sugar. Let it dry. This will allegedly help the crystals form once you place the skewer in the jar with the sugar solution. Some will tell you it’s not totally necessary, but I figured I’d do everything I could do make this thing work.

IMG_9286.jpg

You should also prepare your jars before starting the process. Simply take clean jars and hang your skewer from the top. As you can see, we hung the skewers from clips that balanced nicely. I’ve seen people hang string from pencils with tape and set the pencil across the top of the jar, too. Make sure the skewer or thread is hanging about an inch from the bottom of the jar.

IMG_9304.jpg

When you’re ready to make your rock candy, start by bringing the 2 cpus of water to boil. Easy enough, right?

IMG_9285.jpg

Add your sugar in cup by cup, stirring and letting each cup dissolve before adding in another.

IMG_9289.jpg

Continue until all 3.5 cups of sugar have absorbed.

IMG_9294.jpg

See how much fun I’m having? Here I’m thinking, “Wow, this is easy! Wedding rock candy, here we come!”

IMG_9296.jpg

Now, here’s where all the various sets of instructions I read varied. Some said to let the sugar dissolve and then turn the heat off. But I found more comments from people saying they let their sugar water boil for about 10 more minutes before turning the heat off.

So, I did that.

IMG_9299.jpg

After 10 minutes of boiling, I took the pot off the burner and added in my food coloring. I chose purple since it’s one of our wedding colors. And you know, I was going to make 200 rock candies for our wedding. Ahem.

IMG_9302.jpg

Chris joined me for my great rock candy experiment and made his own, too.

IMG_9320.jpg

He opted for blue. Not one of our wedding colors, but I think he already knew there was no way I was going to be making rock candy for our wedding. He may be a bit smarter than me.

IMG_9324.jpg

Let your sugar solution cool for about 10 minutes and then pour half of it into one of your prepared jars.

IMG_9307.jpg

You might want to use a funnel.

IMG_9310.jpg

Secure your apparatus from the top and make sure it’s sturdy. Once you have your skewer or string hanging in the jar, you shouldn’t move it at all.

IMG_9313.jpg

Repeat with your second jar.

We covered the jars with bags… Well, Chris put his IN bags… I put a small baggie over the top of mine. I think it’s mostly so nothing disturbs the crystals while they’re growing and dust doesn’t fall on them.

IMG_9333.jpg

And here’s where the waiting begins. And the confusion starts. We let them rest without touching them for about 6 days. Chris checked on his.

IMG_9389.jpg

And it looked like this:

IMG_9390.jpg

Mine? Well, mine had NO crystals. Neither of them. I let one of the jars continue to sit and for the other, I followed one tutorial’s advice, which said to dump the sugar solution back into a pot, bring back to a boil, add another cup of sugar in, let it dissolve, and put the solution back in the jar. Well, right when I turned the heat off, the solution immediately crystalized making it impossible to even pour into the jar. Sigh. I think it was on sugar overload.

We ended up going on vacation for 7 days and I left my other jar sitting. When I came back, it was HUGE. It’s that clear-looking one (apparently, I didn’t use enough food coloring) in the middle seen below. I guess in this case, patience was a virtue. And clearly, I need to go away on a week-long vacation to get that “patience.”

Homemade Rock Candy: A fun family DIY | wearenotmartha.com

I decided to try a few more batches and had the following results: One of them started growing crystals within hours and in a couple days, it was a healthy-looking rock candy. Many of them, I let sit undisturbed for 4 days before discovering the whole jar was crystalizing. As some tutorials instructed, I removed the hard pieces of sugar off the top and transferred the solution and skewer into a new, clean jar. This generally worked really well except when the crystals growing on the skewer got stuck to the ones growing on the bottom of the jar and I couldn’t for the life of me get the skewer out.

In general, one rock candy from each of my batches worked. The second either didn’t grow a thing or crystallized into the jar. I wish I could give you better reasons why, but all I can say is that making rock candy is kind of a crap shoot. Let it sit quietly undisturbed, but pay attention to it. If it’s growing crystals all over, remove them. If it’s not, don’t touch it. For at least a week.

But I suppose you DO want to know the science behind it, right? Fine. From what I learned throughout my endeavors, dissolving sugar in boiling water and then letting it cool, creates a supersaturated solution, which means the solution can’t possibly absorb the sugar at the cooler temperature. Therefore, the solution becomes unstable and all the sugar can’t stay in the liquid, so it attaches itself to the skewer or string which act as a “seed.” That’s all I got and that’s as far as my science education is going to go.

All I care about is that it’s pretty.

Dang. Rock candy is hard to photograph. Why doesn’t my camera come with a “rock candy” setting?

Homemade Rock Candy: A fun family DIY | wearenotmartha.com

Rock candy IS super easy to make and mostly just requires patience and luck, so if you have a little extra sugar lying around and want to experiment, try it out!

I don’t really have to tell you what it tastes like, now do I? It’s sugar. On a stick. And there’s really nothing better.

Homemade Rock Candy: A fun family DIY | wearenotmartha.com

Now, I’m going to start researching where we can order rock candy for our wedding πŸ™‚

Have you ever made your own rock candy? Or done a science experiment as a grown up?

Also, Chels and I were just nominated as CBS Boston’s Most Valuable Lifestyle Blogger in Boston! We’d appreciate it so much if you took the time to give us a vote and told all your friends. It’s super easy and you can vote every day. Thank you so, so much!

[Sues]

Homemade Rock Candy -- A fun family DIY | wearenotmartha.com

Tagged With β†’ β€’ β€’ β€’ β€’ β€’

48 Responses to "Make Your Own Rock Candy"

  1. Kate Deeks says:

    Ha! I loved the rock-candy camera setting. Would love to make crystals, but not so interested in the candy eating. Sounds like a fun experiment.

  2. remember as a kid how much we loved having these?
    i was horrid at making caramel until I finally got a good thermo and MADE myself set up camp at the stove to babysit the caramel.

  3. i remember them making this (and peanut brittle) in science class. i was so jealous of those kids!

  4. Reeni says:

    Rock candy is so pretty! I made it once when I was a kid and a trail of ants found their way to it from under my back door.

  5. lena says:

    sue, this is very pretty, it’s a piece of art. just like clusters of crystals !! It’s amazing to know just by boiling sugar syrup can form into these. oh, just voted for your site. Have a happy day!

  6. Katie says:

    wedding rock candy…what a cute idea! you could have jars of rock candy forming all over your house haha πŸ™‚

  7. SMM says:

    I only have about 65 peeps coming to my wedding. I might be able to make this happen! Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  8. Erica says:

    Congrats! I will go vote now! I had no idea making rock candy was such a process! The results are so pretty! I def do not have the patience

  9. Karen says:

    Hi Susie! You and Chris looked like you at least enjoyed making these! And they are so pretty. I just voted for your website, and will return tomorrow to do it again!!

  10. OMG, so much fun! This would completely make me feel like a kid:-)

  11. Joanne says:

    Wow who knew that making rock candy was such an ordeal! But totally worth it for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

  12. I made rock candy once when I was about 12!! lol Your post brings back great memories of that!! And they look beautiful πŸ™‚
    Congrats on being nominated.. I’m going to vote for your ladies right now!

  13. newlywed says:

    Well, it sure looks great! I had DIY-fever for my wedding too. Then I woke up one day and remembered how much I hate crafts. And bought everything. Except for the favors, which I cooked with my mom…because at least I like cooking!

  14. You definitely make this look easy – who knew that rock candy had to “grow”. It probably is a little untenable for homemade wedding favors but I’m really impressed that you did this!

  15. Totally did this in 3rd grade science, but think I need to do this again! So much fun πŸ™‚ Congrats on the nomination!

  16. Taryn says:

    I think your photos look great! Also, it was interesting to read about your experience making rock candy, I didn’t realize it was such a simple process, but with such varied results! Very cool.

  17. Megan says:

    I just bought Sugarbaby and have been planning to try the rock candy recipe just for fun. There’s a suggestion in there to use toothpicks and make mini rock candy… which could speed things up if you haven’t completely given up on making your own for your wedding.

  18. Bee says:

    Yumm! I never successfully made rock candy as a child, not convinced I’d be too good at it as an adult either though… haha

  19. Congrats on the nomination!

  20. CookiePie says:

    WOW – homemade rock candy – that is amazing! For your wedding, you can show everyone the pictures of your beautiful rock candy πŸ™‚

  21. How fun to make this at home, very neat!

  22. Shannon says:

    how fun!! that is awesome πŸ™‚

  23. So excited about this post! I can’t wait to try this kitchen science project and enjoy the delicious outcome…!

  24. Kerstin says:

    What a fun post – I had no idea how to make rock candy! Great wedding favor idea too πŸ™‚

  25. Amy says:

    Looks great! Can’t imagine making 200 of those! Man, that is a lot of sugar for so few sticks!!

  26. Obviously you’re not going to make these for the wedding but at least you now know how to make them (I love discovering such things). Awesome little project! πŸ™‚

  27. Rozzie says:

    Wonderful post! Great to see the photos in progress and your commentary was awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Dorcas says:

    Ironically I had actually planned on trying this tomorrow. Last night I was looking something else up in my Joy of Cooking and thought it’d be really cool to try. I’m so glad I saw your blog because I’m going to do more investigating before I begin. My book says to take a disposable square 8″ aluminum pan, punch 7-8 holes 1/2″ up on two opposite sides. Then lace string back and forth. Then you pour sugar mixture (boiled to 250- hard ball stage) over string. String will be immersed. Then cover pan & leave undisturbed 36-48 hours at least. Then wait some more until it’s all crystalized. Cut strings and lift it out of pan. (I guess it’s solid now – idk) put on baking sheet in 200 degree oven to dry. Says to use strings as decoration or knock crystals off. Store in air tight container at room temp. Usage idea- pile crystals high in bowl at party for fancy sugar for coffee.
    I didn’t copy recipe here. Just gave you the highlights. As you can imagine I now have a headache. Lol. You used 3.5 cups of sugar. Mine is 2.5 cups sugar, 1cup water and a pinch of Cream of Tartar.

  29. simone says:

    Featured you in our Food Trends article this week! Looks delicious and gorgeous. http://is.gd/WKSTQg

  30. Andra says:

    I have had varied luck over the last few years, making rock candy. Like yours, some stuck to the stick, some turned to a huge blob in the bottom of the jar. Luckily for me, I was making them to tie onto Christmas packages, and not for a wedding, or the pressure would have gotten to me! I ordered candy flavorings, and added it to my sugar solutions. Then co-ordinated it with the color-mint or irish cream went with green, for example. These were made to use for stirring coffee, sweetening it, and giving it some specialty flavors! A great gift in itself. If you have serious coffee drinkers on your list!

  31. Charles says:

    my took 4 months…for one crystal to grow on it (:

  32. Charlie says:

    This would be a great Girl Scout troop project!

  33. MYT CR8TiV says:

    I made these in Science class when I was a kid. We used Hard Candy Flavoring drops to enhance the taste. You could use those so it doesn’t just taste like bland crystallized sugar.

  34. Steff says:

    I just had to do a chemistry experiment dealing with recrystalization. We did the same process of boiling the water and sugar to supersaturate it, after it was completely mixed we placed the beaker in an ice bath and the crystals automatically formed. I wonder if that process would work to speed up the rock candy process.

  35. Dakota says:

    Thanks, this’ll be great to try! I heard that you can flavor them with flavoring oil/extract, im not sure if I could stand pure sugar on a stick. πŸ™‚

  36. Kim says:

    I loveee this site! I’m using rock candy in my wedding too, Purple and White Rock Candy in a vase to make a “bouquet”. I’ve searched online for some to buy, but it is kind of expenses so I thought I would try to make my own. Sounds easy, right? HA! πŸ™‚

  37. Jacob Crim says:

    Could I pour the liquid into a baking sheet then break it up once its dried? I am trying to make “blue meth” like in Breaking Bad for my Halloween costume.

  38. Sues says:

    @Jacob- You could try! As you saw, making this wasn’t exactly easy for me… So I’d try a few batches now and hopefully one will be ready in time πŸ™‚

  39. Jane says:

    Just a thought in candy making. I was always told to making candy on sunny days. Candy wont set up if not. I know this is true for fudge, and would make sense for this as well.

  40. Thanks!!Thanks, great to try!

  41. Fattaneh says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience! I’m gonna try it and I hope the result is good.

  42. tina says:

    These are awesome. I think imperfection looks more beautiful. Cant wait to do this with my daughter.

  43. I really liked the rock candy and you should also go to this site they got some pretty good candy here too http://www.myidolpops.com/

  44. Heather says:

    Well I am really glad I read this. I have been attempting to make rock candy for a baby shower. I have watched countless videos. Everyone makes it look so easy. For some reason the sugar I bought never seems to get clear. I stir and stir and stir. By the time it comes to a boil and I pour it into the jars within an hour its like a solid hard clump. I have three weeks to complete this task lol. I will not give up πŸ˜‰

  45. Sam says:

    I heard to dip skewers in the liquid solution and roll them in sugar before putting them in the jar. The sugar will crystallize on the other crystals.

  46. Erica Watson says:

    I was wondering how did you make rock candy .now I know how to make it me and my grandkids can make that on family night

  47. Julia says:

    This is truly amazing!!!!!! The only thing I don’t like is that it won’t let me see the ingredients

  48. Julia says:

    This is truly amazing!!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *