Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: Sugar Crystals

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
When water and sugar are boiled and placed in small containers with wooden sticks, Why do larger sugar crystals form on the wooden sticks? What processes occur?
- Paige
Bean Station, TN USA
A:
This answer has to do with forming crystals. The hot sugar water you made had a lot more sugar dissolved in it than the same amount of cold water could hold, you probably made the hot sugar water by starting with cold sugar water and dissolving more sugar as you heated it up.

So when you poured the hot sugar water into small containers with wooden sticks and the water started to cool off too much sugar was dissolved water and it had to go somewhere, so it starts to form crystals.

If you could look real close at grains of sugar you would see that they are really smaller versions of the crystals that form on your wooden stick. But if you were able to see the molecules themselves you would see that they are arranged in neat rows and layers. These rows and layers form as the crystals form, but in order for the crystals to grow big the crystals need to form slowly. This is why the crystals grow larger than normal on the wooden stick, that is the water cools slow enough for the crystals to grow as large as they do.

(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-up on this answer.