Here's How to Make Rock Candy at Home. It's Easy and Fun

Looking for something quirky and sweet, but low calorie and fun to make with kids? Look no further than rock candy and follow these simple recipes.
Candy Cane Pattern
Tracing its roots back to Iran, rock candy is one of the simplest candies to make and can be an interesting science project for the kids―teaching them about crystal formation and structure. Making it even more awesome is the fact that it is pure sugar with hardly any chemicals unless you add them through food color or flavors.

Rock candy gets its appearance thanks to recrystallization of sugar from the syrup using seeding, i.e., introduction of a foreign object on which the crystals grow.

rock candy science
The Science Behind Sugar Crystals
Sugar is more soluble in hot water than in cold. So, when you add several cups of sugar to hot water, you are effectively making a supersaturated solution. As water cools down, its solubility will decrease and sugar will 'come out' of water. Like a pearl, once a crystal is formed, it will act as a seed and other sugar molecules will cling to it, making it bigger.

With the theoretical bit down, let's get started with the fun part. All you need is sugar, water, a clean glass jar, string or skewer, clothespin, and tons of patience as it may take up to a week for the candy to form.

Basic Recipe for Rock Candy on a Stick

This is a very basic recipe to make old-style rock candy on a stick. Besides eating straight off the stick, you can also use it to sweeten your coffee or drink.
basic rock candy recipe

Things you'll need:
Sugar, 4 cups
Water, 2 cups
Skewer (or Toothpick), 1
Glass Jar, 1
Clothespin, 1
Funnel, 1
Food color/flavor, as required

Procedure:
Wash the jar thoroughly with hot water and make sure it is completely dry.
Moisten the skewer and roll it in granulated sugar; then leave it to dry, preferably overnight, as it should be completely dry.
Pour water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add one cup of sugar and stir till it dissolves completely.
Add the second, third, and fourth cup in a similar manner. Keep in mind that it will take longer for each batch of sugar to dissolve completely.
Once all sugar has been added and dissolved, remove the pan from heat.
Add color or flavor to the syrup and let it sit for around 10 minutes.
Place a funnel on the mouth of the jar and pour the hot liquid through the funnel.
Suspend the sugar-coated skewer on the jar, with the help of the clothespin. The skewer should not touch the bottom or sides of the jar, or it will grow on to the sides and might break while taking out.
Place your jar in a safe place, away from direct sunlight and cover it lightly with a plastic wrap (to keep away dust, flies, etc.). Let it sit for about 5 days, or till it reaches the size you want.
Once you take it out, let the rock candy dry for a few minutes for you to enjoy it, or wrap it in plastic for future use.

Note - You can replace the skewer with a thread and suspend it in the jar, tied to a pencil to make a sugar string.

Recipe for Chunky Rock Candy

This is a no-frill, no waste recipe and a lot simpler than the stick or string recipe.
chunky rock candy

Things you'll need:
Corn Syrup (Light), 1½ cups
Sugar, 4 cups
Water, 1 cup
Color and Flavor of your choice
Candy Thermometer

Procedure:
Add corn syrup, sugar and water to a pan and place it on medium heat.
Stir continuously until the sugar dissolves and heat till the syrup starts boiling.
Place the candy thermometer in the pan and keep heating till it reaches 285°F. Do not overheat as this will change the color of your candy.
Take it off and let it sit for about 5 minutes; then add color or flavor of your choice.
Take a baking tray lined with aluminum foil and spray some non-stick cooking oil.
Pour the syrup into this tray and tilt, so as to get a thin layer.
Keep it in a cool, dry place covered with a plastic wrap, so it sets at room temperature.
Once it is set completely (it will look transparent), break it with your hands.

Fun Fact - The meth crystals used in Breaking Bad are actually blue rock candy.

Recipe for Rock Sugar Jewelry

With tons of different colors available, how about making some edible homemade bling for the girls?
rock candy jewelry

Things you'll need:
Sugar, 3 cups
Water, 1 cup
Bowl, 1
Ribbon, 1
Clothespin
Food color (To make it pretty) or flavor (to make it yum)

Procedure:
Dampen the ribbon, dip it in granulated sugar, and let it dry completely.
Heat water in a saucepan and add sugar, one cup at a time and stir.
Once the sugar is dissolved completely, take it off the heat.
Add color/flavor of your choice and strain it into the bowl. Make sure the bowl is clean and completely dry.
Dunk the portion of the ribbon you want the crystals to form on in the syrup and secure the ends of the ribbon on the side of the bowl with clothespins.
Let it stand, and watch it closely. If the sugar is crystallizing anywhere else (you might find a sheet forming on the top or bottom); remove the ribbon carefully and place it in another container.
Heat the syrup again so as to dissolve the sugar completely and pour it in a clean, dry bowl.
Secure the ribbon again, with the middle dipped in the syrup. You might have to do this daily for about 1-3 weeks.
Once you are happy with the size of crystals, take it out and let it dry for a few minutes.

A Few Tips to Make it Fab:
If you are adding color, make sure it is a lot darker than the shade you want.
Try using contrast colors―blue ribbon with white crystals or black ribbon with orange crystals look great.
Keep checking the ribbon and change the bowls frequently to get shiny, even-sized crystals.
Have fun!

Microwave Recipe

Faster, easier, and less likely to overheat, you might want to try this microwave recipe for the perfect color.
microwave rock candy

Things you'll need:
Sugar, 2 cups
Corn Syrup (Light), 1 cup
Microwave-safe heavy glass bowl
Baking Tray
Foil
Plastic Wrap
Color and flavor (Optional)

Procedure:
Mix water and corn syrup in the bowl and cover tightly with a plastic wrap.
Microwave the mixture on high for about three minutes.
Take the bowl out of the microwave, stir and replace the plastic wrap with a new one. Microwave for another 3 minutes.
Repeat this process one more time. Remove the bowl from the microwave and add color and flavor as required.
Take a baking tray, line it with foil and spray with non-stick cooking oil.
Place the pan in a cool place to harden. Break the candy into small chunks and store in an airtight container.

A Few Tips and Tricks
bing tang hulu
  • If sugar is not crystallizing for any recipe, try adding more sugar to the syrup.
  • Want your rock candy to be ready faster? Try making it in winter when the temperatures are lower and the sugar will crystallize faster.
  • Humidity also affects the crystallization; generally less humidity means faster crystallization.
  • If your rock candy is looking yellow or amber without adding any color, you are heating it too much. Try keeping the temperature below 185°F.
  • Make a healthier fruit version, called tanghulu in China, by dipping skewered fruits in a lighter sugar syrup and letting them dry.

As simple as it may sound, it might take you a few attempts to get the sugar-water ratio right. But, this quaint little candy is sure to bring delight at any event and to any age group.