Saturday, October 15, 2011

How-to & How-not-to Make Rock Candy

Rock Candy.  Mmmmmmm, pure sugar on a stick.  I saw some rock candy this weekend and wanted to buy a few sticks for my kids but for $1 a stick I knew I could make them some and do a neat little science experiment while making it.  So off I went to buy bamboo skewers and kool-aid because I didn't have those items already and now we are making several sticks of the stuff for just a couple dollars and have plenty of sticks left over to make more another day. It's now 3 weeks after I started writing this post I have found out how-not-to make rock candy better than I found out how-to make rock candy.  So look for my corrections below to learn from my errors.  Because really nothing is more boring than looking daily at a cup of sugar water not forming any candy.

Supplies
Wooden skewers (I found 75 for 75 cents, sounded like a good deal to me)
Glass Jars (I had some mason jars, old jelly jars & some glasses)
Clothespins
Sugar
Water
Kool-Aid (optional, for coloring & flavoring) Kool-aid did not work, so don't try it.  If for some reason you want to totally disregard this advise and try it for yourself at least don't put the whole package in each cup like I did.  Because all you will get is a cup full of very syrupy kool-aid and that's just nasty.  So skip step 8 below and just add a couple drops of food coloring instead.
Step 1:  Gather the supplies most of the things used to make rock candy you probably already have around your house.
Step 2:  Cut the sharp ends off of the skewers so no one pokes themselves with it.  I used my kitchen shears for this.  Then you will want to cut each skewer in half.  I used my kitchen shears to just make an indentation around where I wanted to cut it at and then snapped each in half.
Step 3:  Dip the skewers in water and roll in sugar.  Let them all dry.  This will help the crystals start forming on the sticks.
Step 4:  Add clothespins to the end of each skewer.
Step 5:  Get a pot, sugar & water ready.
Step 6:  Add a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water.  I used 2 1/2 c. of water to 5 c. sugar and heat using medium-high setting on your stove until simmering.  I then added a little more sugar once the first sugar dissolved and brought just to a boil.  I've heard you can add up to a 3:1 ratio but I don't think I added that much.  (I made 2 batches of this in order to fill my 8 jars/glasses).  Remove from heat right after it starts to boil. I think I also messed up in this step.  Make sure you keep adding sugar until no more will dissolve. I don't think I added enough sugar which is why it took me 3 WEEKS for my candy to finally get big enough for me to really consider it rock candy.
Step 7:  Carefully pour the sugar/water mixture into your jars/glasses.
Step 8:  (optional) Add a little Kool-Aid to each jar.  This will add color & flavor to your finished rock candy.  If you don't want to use Kool-Aid you could use a couple drops of food coloring & some flavoring extracts.  Of course it taste great just plain also if you don't want to add any coloring or flavoring.  COOL COMPLETELY. 
Step 9:  Insert your sugared skewers into the glasses/jars.  Don't let the sticks touch the bottom or the sides of the jars.  I think maybe it would also help to put your jars in a sunny window to help the water evaporate faster so the sugar forms rock candy faster.  I don't really have a good spot in my house to put the jars by a window (or at least not a spot that I would trust my dog and kids not to mess with them) so I just left them on my kitchen counter.  But if you have a good spot in your house put them in a window becuase I think that would make it work faster.

That's it.  Now you just have to wait a few days and watch as the crystals form and get bigger on the skewers.  A few days/3 weeks, it's the same thing right?? :)  I'm just glad the plain glasses of sugar water that I did turned out.  Because if I would have had to throw out all the jars that would have been really depressing. 

So................drum roll please................. My finished Rock Candy.  Pretty impressive right.  Ok, ok they are kind of wimpy rock candy but by making mistakes I've learned some valuable lessons on how-not-to make rock candy that maybe will be put to use in a future science project or used to make candy for a birthday party.  So mistakes are not bad things they are just learning tools to make life more interesting. (At least that's what I keep telling myself)


I pulled them out of the solution and I'm letting them drip over some wax paper to dry.  Out of the 12 sticks I started out with I got 4 sticks of candy but the kids had a good time watching these get made so I guess it was worth it after all.  But next time I may just buy them a stick of rock candy instead of making it and let them have a little instant gratification.

6 comments:

  1. Hahahahahahaha! This is great! I think you should make mistakes like this more often, because this was wildly entertaining.

    I'm going to try this today, sans kool-aid, of course. I wonder how long it will take. I'll report back in a few days...or a month.

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  2. Oh, well if you enjoy hearing about my "learning experiences" (AKA really dumb mistakes) I should post about recently when I made cookies and thought I had a 1 c. measuring cup for the flour but only had a 1/2 c. Needless to say they did not turn out quite right. And to make it worse I did not do that once but twice lately. Maybe I should get my eyes checked.

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  3. Do you remember when we were cooking at your house when we were kids and we accidentally put in like 1/4 C of salt instead of a 1/4 tsp? I don't remember exactly what happened, just that whatever it was we were making was RUINED. Good times! :)

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  4. We were making custard and yes it was very nasty. Why we would ever think a dessert would have 1/4 c of salt I will never know. I knock it off to youthful inexperience. Live & learn. I was actually thinking about when I wrote the last comment and it got me craving some custard. After I get my kitchen clean I may just make some. Memories...

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  5. Yes!!! Custard!! I think it was around the same time that we were working on that math project where we created an airline timetable. That was a really fun project.

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  6. Thanks for posting! The best learning happens through mistakes - thanks for doing this the hard way so I don't have to - I really like your style :-D

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