Sunday, November 6, 2011

Science Sunday ~ The Decomposition of Sugar

Dawson has been learning about the basic patterns of all life. One that we studied this week is: Life Runs on Sugar.

From The Way Life Works by Mahlon Hoagland, "Sugars are simple, energy-packed chains of three to seven carbon atoms festooned with hydrogens and oxygens." Sugar is carbon and water fused together. When sugar is heated, it breaks down into it's original carbon and water elements.

So, to demonstrate the decomposition of sugar, we did the following experiment:

Dawson poured 1/2 cup of sugar into a small pan and heated it until the hydrogen and oxygen were revealed in their natural combined form: water.

As it was broken down into the carbon element, it turn into a blackish  color.

Once the sugar was caramelized into a liquid form, he slowly added 1/2 cup of water. It sizzled and popped, so he poured slowly and stayed back.

Part of it crystalized immediately and it tasted like rock candy.

The sugar was decomposed and made into a completely different substance. Had we wanted, we could have continued to heat and stir it until it was pure caramel, and used it as sauce over ice cream or another dessert.

This is what you DON'T want to do: Turn on the burner, and take someone's word for it that it takes about 5-10 minutes for the sugar to turn into liquid form. It only takes a couple of minutes, at least with an electric stove top.

I was busy making the beds. Apparently Dawson didn't see the smoke. Hmmmm ... That sure didn't look like something we wanted to serve on a dessert.

Linking this up at Adventures of Mommydom's Science Sunday.


  1. HA!!! I bet that (the last picture) was exciting...and smelled lovely. ;)We have learned we can't take anyone's word for science because we have HORRIBLE luck with experiments. I'm pretty sure you don't want to serve that last picture on dessert. :) Good experiment, though, and one we might have to replicate since we're talking about sugar here too!

  2. I love this! We make caramel from time to time, but I never thought of using it as a science demo. Wonderful!

  3. OH, I've done that last part a time or two. It's going great and then you get distracted...... and then icky brown mess.


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