Summertime Rock Candy

— Written By

Summer is fully upon us and I’ve been thinking about all the fun things that I got to do as a kid. One of my favorites was going to shows at the outdoor amphitheater. When I think of the outdoor amphitheater I always think of the mugginess, the sharp smell of bug spray, and Rock Candy. I remember thinking it looked like something out of a fairy story, like a piece of the crystal caves you could eat.

Rock Candy in a yellow Glass Jar

While I still feel a twinge for the visual magic of rock candy, now it has a magic all its own. The magic of discovery. See, rock candy isn’t something you have to go somewhere to get, it’s very easy to make at home. While the sweet crystal crunch alone is enough to make it a worthwhile endeavor, it’s also a great way to teach kids about solutions and the formation of molecules.

To make rock candy requires very little; some water, a large pot, a few sticks, some jars, and a great deal of sugar. This week with our partner Love Thy Neighbor , we were able to make some rock candy. The process is simple but does take some time to complete. For most candies you start by creating a sugar syrup, and for rock candy you need a 3 to 1 ratio of sugar and water. There should be 3 cups of sugar to every 1 cup of water. As you stir the sugar into the boiling water the kids can begin to see the reaction of the solution. The syrup will become a hyper saturated solution, meaning no more sugar can be dissolved in the water. The sugar and water molecules are attracted to one another creating a higher density so the sugar will begin to float on the solution.

Supplies to make Rock Candy: Container of Simple Syrup, Glass Jars, Flavorings

Rock candy is formed by allowing the solution to cool slowly over a period of time. Any glass jar or glass will work well for this process. You will need some skewers, granulated sugar, and a little bit of water. Coat the bottom half of the skewer in the sugar. Once the syrup is cooled enough not to crack the jars, it’s time to add the flavoring. The final step is to suspend the skewers into the solution. As the syrup cools over the next week the molecules in the solution will begin to adhere to the sugar crystals in an attempt to keep the temperature up. The formation of bonds always releases energy.

Children Making adding Flavorings to their Jars

We had a great time making our rock candy. Check out our Facebook page to see how our rock candy turned out. Next Friday we will be making Stalagmite Crystal art!

Children Submerging their sticks into the syrup hypersolution

Along with our partnership with Love Thy Neighbor we have a few great programs to put a stopper in summer learning loss and create a great environment to foster the magic of summer. Youth can travel all around the world with Book Explorer’s at the Pamlico County Library, reading stories, tasting food, and making art from different countries. Or they could blast off the planet with Out of this World, learning about planets, stars, and aeronautical engineering. Children will engage in challenges to get their astronaut and all the mission supplies safely off the planet. They can also dig themselves into Pamlico County with Garden to Gourmet; growing tasty treats we’ll prepare for ourselves. Nothing quite tastes as good as a vegetable you’ve grown yourself. Finally, we’ll join the Centers for Disease Control to help them fight an epidemic outbreak by learning how to develop a vaccine to cure a contagious bacteria. All of these programs will get kids up, active, and engaging their curiosity, building on educational, and motor skills masteries of the previous year. Register soon to guarantee a summer of fun!

For more information on the Love Thy Neighbor summer nutrition program or any of our summer programs contact Kait Neeland at (252) 745-4121, or kait_neeland@ncsu.edu, or check us out online.