How Sugar is Made

We at Bare Body Sugaring love sugar; you can use it for all kinds of reasons, from making food more delicious to enhancing your cleaning products, and of course for using in skin care and hair removal. We know that sugars can be found in all kinds of things, and that a lot of different chemicals can be classified as sugar; fructose, glucose and sucrose all fit the bill, and they’re all sweet. Sucrose is table sugar, which is what we use in our body sugaring, so we thought it would be fun to see how it’s made.

The sugar you find at your table is most often made of one of two plants, sugarcane or sugar beets. Sugar beets are found in temperate regions, and so are the most commonly grown sugar plant in North America and Europe; sugarcane thrives in tropical regions, and so is seen in South America, India, and other warm countries. The plants are both manipulated in factories to extract the sucrose, but each of them have the sugar extracted in a different way.

Sugarcane begins it’s refining process near where it was harvested. The cane is chopped into small pieces and crushed in mills so that it’s sugary juices are extracted. The juice is then boiled into syrup, and pre-existing sugar crystals are added to it. This speeds up the crystallization process by spurring crystal growth. The now crystal-filled liquid is sent to a centrifuge, where it is spun to separate the crystals from the remaining liquid, which can now be used as molasses. The raw sugar is then sent to refineries, where it is purified further; hot syrup is added to the crystal, and this mixture is sent through a different type of centrifuge to separate the less refined sugar from the purer stuff. This sugar is then further cleaned, and sent through wire mesh of different sizes to create the different types of sugar you might buy.

Sugar beets are a bit easier to refine, since they have a higher sucrose content. The beets are washed and then sliced very thin; hot water is then poured over the slices, and that’s enough to extract the sugar. This juice tastes like beets, though, and that’s not something most of us want in our morning coffee; limewater and carbon dioxide are added to the mixture to take away impurities, and are then removed by filtration. The now beet-free sugar juice is further refined by being boiled, creating a thick syrup. A small sugar crystal is added, just like in sugarcane refining, and crystallization occurs. Centrifuges run, crystals are separated, mesh is used and sugar is packaged and sold.

There are a lot of handy by-products from sugar refining; molasses is used for a variety of delicious reasons, and the leaves and stems of the plants can be used to create feed for livestock. Sugar is even versatile when it’s being refined; it really is incredible how handy the stuff is!