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Q & A: freezing sugar

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Q:
A close friend and I were arguing about Sugar. He said that you can freeze sugar. I said you can not freeze sugar. I have been looking all over the place to see if it was at all possible and havent found anything. Would you please tell me who is correct and why or how I can test it myself. Please and Thank you.
- Malynda (age 17)
Council Bluffs Iowa
A:
When we say that something freezes, we mean that it goes from a fluid phase (usually liquid) to a solid phase. By solid phase we mean a crystal, with an orderly stacking of the molecules. Ordinary sugar at room temperature is already frozen into a solid. If heated, it will melt to a liquid. Then if cooled, it will freeze back to the solid. The melting/freezing temperature of a common sugar (sucrose) is 185 C or 365 F. The only reason I could think of why someone might say that you cannot melt/freeze sugar might be that when its hot it could undergo reactions which convert it to other molecules. Why not try the experiment by heating some in an oven, then letting it slowly cool?

Mike W.

(republished on 07/25/06)

Follow-Up #1: freezing sugar

Q:
The question is, can you freeze extra sugar in the freezer to avoid contamination from ants, roaches, mice, etc. Will it come out of the freezer the same as when you put it in, usable?
- Paige M. Parramore (age 62)
Goshen, Al, USA
A:
Yes, there's no chemical problem with that at all. However, freezers often have some odors that will be absorbed by something with high surface area like sugar. It's a good idea to make sure it's sealed well.

Mike W.

(published on 09/01/12)

Follow-up on this answer.