Sugar and Spice


    Kids, in these activities you will be making some home-grown sugar gems into rings and also modifying some spices to make necklaces or bracelets.

    Please note:  All chemicals and experiments can entail an element of risk, and no experiments should be performed without proper adult supervision.

    Sugar Gems. Granulated sugar is made up of ground-up sugar crystals. Have an adult help you slowly and carefully dissolve 2 cups of sugar into 3/4 cup of boiling water. Let the solution cool slightly, and then pour it into paper cups or clear plastic glasses. Set them aside where they won't be disturbed. As the water evaporates, crystals of sugar (sucrose, C12H22O11 ) will begin to form on the bottom and sides of the cup. Unfortunately, the faster the water evaporates, the smaller the crystals will be. Be patient. Crystals the size of peas will form in a month or so, depending on the temperature and humidity. You can buy jewelry settings at a craft store and attach your best gems singly or in groups. If you want to grow large single crystals, you'll have to use special techniques described in books on crystals at the library.

    Spice Jewelry. Spices are used by cooks to add flavor and aroma to foods. No one pays much attention to their appearance. But some spices are attractive and can be used as beads in unusual necklaces or bracelets with a nice smell. First we will consider cloves, which are dried flower-buds grown in places like Zanzibar and Sumatra. The aromatic oil of cloves is called eugenol (C10H12O2 ). Another good one is allspice, which is the aromatic dried berry of the pimento. This also contains eugenol, and is grown in places like the Indies and South America. Soak whole cloves (these are round) and allspice (this is flute-shaped) in water for a day or two until they are soft. Using a needle threaded with nylon thread or even dental floss, pierce the spices and run them onto the thread in your own designed pattern. The allspice can be pierced either lengthwise (down the middle of the long axis) or crosswise (to give a tooth-like appearance). When completed, the spices will dry back to their original shapes and will be held firmly on the thread.


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    March 1996


    Reference: Don Herbert, Mr. Wizard's Supermarket Science Random House (NY) 1980, p. 22-25.