what’s the difference between caramelised sugar and cotton candy? How does sugar turn into two completely different things?

135 views

what’s the difference between caramelised sugar and cotton candy? How does sugar turn into two completely different things?

In: Chemistry

Cotton candy is sugar that’s been heated hot enough to melt then “spun” into thin fibers. But it never got hot enough to start chemically breaking down. It’s just regular sugar in a different shape.

Caramelized sugar happens when you get sugar hot enough that the sugar molecules start to break down into a whole mess of other compounds, which create the brown colour and a bunch of new flavours. If you keep going it’ll burn and, eventually, break down entirely to carbon.

It’s the difference between cutting vegetables up into sticks (same veggie, different shape) and cooking it.

Edit:typo

The difference is temperature. As you heat it up, sugar liquifies before it browns. You’ve seen this if you’ve ever made caramel at home.

When the sugar is liquid, if you maintain that temperature, it can be spun into cotton candy, but if you allow it to heat up to a higher temperature, it begins to brown (about half a second before it begins to burn – caramel is tricky when you have ADD) and, voila! you have caramel.