How to Make Rock Candy

If you’ve ever wondered how to make rock candy, now is the time to learn! This nostalgic childhood treat is easy to make, fun to eat and doubles as a science project!

colorful rock candy swizzle sticks on a white background

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Seas of whiskey barrels lined the room, each one filled with gold.

Pure, sweet, colorful gold.

My siblings and I treasured the old-fashioned candy room at the Mast General Store. It was a must-visit on every family vacation to the North Carolina mountains.

My parents would let us each fill a white paper bag, stamped with the store’s logo in red ink. I’m sure they hoped we’d keep it under a pound apiece.

I’d always stuff mine full of my favorites: lemonheads, fireballs, candy dots, black licorice sticks, Mary Janes, candy necklaces, caramels and rock candy.

colorful rock candy swizzle sticks on a white background

The rock candy always fascinated me. Just how did they make candy that looked like colorful sugar crystals?!

I got my answer one summer when my dad showed me how to make it during one of his “Dad School” lessons.

Dad School was a summer requirement at our house, in which he gave us reading and math worksheets to complete while he was at work, and sometimes he’d do science projects with us on the weekends.

One of those was rock candy, and I’m so glad I have that memory.

colorful rock candy swizzle sticks on a white background

Even now, rock candy is still something I think is so fun. I’ll always order a drink with a rock candy garnish at a fancy cocktail bar!

It conjures up that nostalgic feeling, the same way these cake push pops or moon pie ice cream do for me.

If you love rock candy as much as me, now you can make your own. It’s cool to be a kid again!

Plus, it’s a fun project for kids. #science

rock candy forming in a jar

Materials for making rock candy

You’ll need to gather a few things to make rock candy:

colorful rock candy swizzle sticks on a white background

How to make rock candy

Rock candy is surprisingly simple to make. It takes just 30 minutes to prepare, but about a week or two for the candy crystals to form.

Note: If you’re making it with the kiddos, please make sure to supervise as it will require making a very hot liquid.

First you’ll cook sugar and water together to make a super thick simple syrup. Be sure to follow the printable instructions below, because this is unlike any simple syrup you’ve ever made.

You can color the mixture with food coloring, if you like!

For a light, pastel color, 3-4 drops will do! For a bright, saturated color, do 6-8 drops or more. (Keep in mind that pastel will be easier to watch as the crystals grow.)

rock candy forming in a jar

While it’s cooking, prepare what you want the sugar crystals to attach to, such as a wooden swizzle stick or a string.

Your rock candy needs to attach to sugar crystals, so run the sticks or string under some water to dampen it, then roll it in sugar — a heavy coat. Then let it dry completely.

rock candy forming in a jar

When your sugar mixture is ready, decant it into glasses or jars. (I use 8-ounce jars, but you can use larger ones. I wouldn’t go smaller than 8-ounces, however.)

Insert the sticks or string. For sticks, use clothespins. For string, tie it to a pencil.

Cover with saran wrap to keep out bugs and dust. Then, set it aside.

purple and blue rock candy swizzle sticks on a white background

Now the wait is on!

Rock candy takes a couple of weeks to fully form, but I think it’s the anticipation makes it that much more fun.

colorful rock candy swizzle sticks in a glass

I hope you love making rock candy and that it brings you tons of childlike joy as you watch it form!

And if you want to enjoy it in an adult drink (like a champagne cocktail) — I definitely won’t tell.

colorful rock candy swizzle sticks on a white background

Rock Candy

Yield: 6 swizzle sticks
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 14 days
Total Time: 14 days 30 minutes

Rock candy is a nostalgic childhood treat that is easy to make, fun to eat and doubles as a science project!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • food coloring, optional

Instructions

  1. Heat water in a saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar one cup at a time, stirring after each addition until the sugar dissolved. Mixture will become thick. Remove from heat.
  2. Stir in food coloring now, if desired. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile prepare wooden swizzle sticks or string. Run through water and then coat thickly in sugar. Let dry completely.
  4. Pour sugar mixture into 6 (8-oz.) jars. Using clothespins (or a pencil for string) to suspend swizzle sticks 1 inch from the bottom of the jar. Be careful for the sticks/string to avoid the edges of the jar. Cover with saran wrap and set in a cool, dry place.
  5. Allow rock candy to rest and form for 2 weeks. Once it has grown to around 1-inch diameter, remove from the sugar syrup and let dry on a plate. Discard remaining sugar syrup and crystals.

Notes

Please make sure to supervise and help children as the rock candy syrup is very hot and dangerous.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 swizzle stick
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 24Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2.3mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 0g

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