Making rock candy doesn’t sound so hard, does it? Well believe it or not, we totally flopped at it the first time we tried a couple years ago.
Rock candy makes a great activity to go along with science lessons on topics like solutions and mixtures, evaporation and condensation, crystallization…or even rocks and minerals (though, of course, rock candy just looks like a rock!). These would be lessons A-8 through A-10 if you are using BFSU for science like we are.
After reading a few blog posts and other sites with tips on making rock candy, I decided to go with the method I found in this post that I found via pinterest. I liked their end product — a nice “candy store” sort of colored rock candy on a stick.
Here’s what our set-up and candy making process looked like:
The actual adding-sugar-to-boiling water part of the process is, of course, not pictured. I was too busy trying to manage four children who all wanted to help (my three older ones plus a friend), and trying to make sure it didn’t boil over or otherwise make a mess.
I followed the directions from the Design Dazzle blog post (linked above) almost exactly. You definitely need to have plenty of sugar on hand to do this activity! I think seeding the sticks is a key part of the process — the sugar crystals need something to grow on if you want rock candy anywhere other than the bottom of your jar or container! We didn’t “seed” our string we used when we tried to make rock candy a couple years ago, which may have been part of the problem — but then again, that time we got no crystals at all, so we may not have used enough sugar or not heated our sugar solution long enough.
Another tip for prospective rock candy makers — if you are using food coloring, do yourself a favor and don’t do any of the stirring with a wood spoon. Yeah, I have an nice multi-colored stained spoon now!
Then wait a week or so and you’ll have…
…Beautiful candy made of pure sugar! The kids thought it was pretty tasty, and also enjoyed looking at the crystals through a magnifying glass. I couldn’t bring myself to eat it. I got a sugar headache just thinking about it! Not all of our rock candy sticks turned out. A few stuck to the side or bottom of the jar and were hard to remove. As you can see from the picture in the lower right, we got a lot of sugar crystals forming on the bottom of the jar. I’m not sure if that’s typical, or an indication of some error we made! Maybe someone with more rock candy experience can shed some light on that subject.
I’m linking up with Science Sunday @ Adventures in Mommydom and with the the Monthly Blog and Tell link-up at the HSBA Post for their “Something Red” theme with my RED rock candy! Be sure to visit those link-ups to see what other bloggers are writing about!