Introduction: Sugar Glass

Sugar glass is, at its most basic, a molded lollipop. It is candy which has been molded to look like glass. It has been used in films, and theater for a very long time (in other words, I don't know exactly, but it's been a while). It is hard candy, but to get the right physical properties requires a little chemistry.

These days, fake break-away glass is now typically made from a clear resin, but for low-budget or home fun, you can make your own with just a few simple things.

Step 1: What You Need

Ingredients
- 1 C Water
- 1.75 C Sugar
- .5 C Corn Syrup - the clearer the better
- .25 t Cream of Tartar

Tools
- Sauce Pot
- Spoon or spatula (I recommend high temp silicone)
- Stove
- Candy or Deep Fry thermometer (needs to go up to 300 degrees accurately)
- Corn Starch

Step 2: Sugar

Common table sugar is also called sucrose. It is a disaccharide (two sugars) of glucose and fructose, with the molecular formula C12H22O11.

The glucose and fructose are connected by a single oxygen atom. By applying heat and an acid (cream of tartar), you can break the bond between the saccharides. More on that later.

Sugar is hygroscopic which means that it really likes water. If you've ever left hard candy out in the open on a humid day, you've probably returned to a sticky mess later. Therefore, any sugar glass that you make, you need to use quickly.

In theory, you can make sugar glass with just sugar, water and heat, but it will be very unstable as you make it, and very likely to burn or flash crystalize.

See the following links on Sucrose for more information:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sucrose
http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/candy/sugar.html

Step 3: Cream of Tartar and Corn Syrup (Chemical Voodoo)

You can omit the cream of tartar, but it has magical properties (well, OK, not *magical*... but it does help out quite a bit). Cream of Tartar, or Tartaric Acid is a biproduct of the wine making industry. It is known chemically as potassium hydrogen tartrate, and has a chemical formula of: KC4H5O6. Tartaric acid is also a primary ingredient in baking powder. So, if you ever run out of baking powder, just use equal parts of baking soda (a base), and cream of tartar (an acid).

As for the "magical" properties... it is used to prevent the sugar from crystalizing. It does this by breaking down some of the sugar molecules at the single oxygen atom, creating single molecules of glucose and fructose.

The corn syrup is mostly glucose, and acts as a buffer between sucrose molecules preventing them from joining together in one giant mass and ruining your crystal clear confection. Since we are using corn syrup, you can omit the cream of tartar, but I like to hedge my bets, and I've found that I get a better result more consistently (less likely to flash crystalize when the heat is off) when I use the cream of tartar.

Step 4: Making Candy

In the sauce pot, combine the water, sugar, corn syrup, and cream of tartar. Stir to dissolve as best as you can. The heat will finish dissolving it. Turn the heat on high and let it come to a boil.

The process of making hard candy is really just dissolving the sugar crystals in a medium (water), and getting rid of the water. The sugar is then one big crystal. If allowed to cool properly, it will be a semi-clear solid mass.

When the mixture comes to a boil, it is time to put in the candy thermometer. You are going for a hard-crack. This is about 302 degrees Farenheit (150 degrees Celsius). If you have never made candy before, or are unfamiliar with the candy stages... Before there were neat candy thermometers, cooks used to keep a cup of cold water near the pot to test the doneness of the mixture. A small bit was taken out of the mixture and dropped into the water. Depending on the reaction, it told the doneness level of the candy.

- Thread Stage - 215 F or 108 C - The candy forms very soft threads. This is used for syrups.
- Soft Ball - 235 F or 118 C - The candy forms a soft maliable ball, but will flatten by itself. Fudge is a soft ball candy.
- Hard Ball - 250 F or 125 C - The candy forms a firm ball that will not flatten by itself, but will squish if pressed between the fingers. Caramels are a good example.
- Soft Crack - 270 F or 135 C - Candy dropped into the water will form pliable threads that will bend before they break. Taffy is a soft crack candy.
- Hard Crack - 300 F or 150 C - When dropped into the water, you will hear a noticable "crack" sound. Hard Candies, and sugar glass.

The temerature is a bit flexible, so you don't have to be that precise. I usually stop cooking a hard crack at 302 degrees, and it will get up to about 307 degrees with the carry over heat.

The temperature will rise slowly as the water boils out. As the mixture becomes more and more concentrated, it becomes less stable. Remember, the water is the only this that was keeping the sugar from recrystalizing. Be careful of the crystals on the side of the pot falling into the mixture. If the sugar gets a crystal in it, it will recrystalize in a flash, the only thing you can do at that point is add more water and start over. The corn syrup (pure fructose) and the cream of tartar (an acid to break down some of the sugar) will help you avoid that messy possibility, but it is still a possibility.

When the temp reaches 302 degrees F, remove it from the heat, and set it aside to cool a bit before working with it. This will also help get some of the air bubbles out. This is a good time to remove the candy thermometer.

Now, here is the most important warning: Professional chefs call this stuff culinary napalm! It is 300 degrees, and it sticks to everything. It is a very good way to get a very nasty burn. Please exercise caution when dealing with this stuff. I take no responsibility for your actions.

Step 5: Mold Prep

I won't go into making custom molds, I recommend the following instructable for that:

https://www.instructables.com/id/Two-Part-Silicone-Casting/

However, I do recommend using food grade silicone, as it can deal with the heat, and won't leave any nasty residue should you decide to eat your creation.

Coat the inside of the mold with either a light cooking spray (not recommended) or a light dusting of corn starch. The corn starch will also help keep the item dry longer.

Step 6: Making the <Insert Your Application Here>

Pour it into the mold. I made a bottle mold for mine, so I pour mine in and then keep rotating the mold until the sugar is set enough that I can put it down. Let the item cool completely, don't jostle it, don't get it wet, and don't unmold it before it's done!

Step 7: Other Applications

Spun sugar - When you get really good at it, you can drop the sugar into a work area and "catch" the threads as the mixture falls. This can be a very delicate and interesting garnish for desserts. I have seen chocolate bird eggs in a spun sugar nest as party favors.

Breaking stuff without the mess - I let my wife break a sugar glass bottle over my head. It was very theraputic for her.


Comments

author
jpruitt3 made it!(author)2015-11-12

Silicon molds

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ANTQNUT made it!(author)2009-04-20

uhh what do you do if you just want to make a flat lolly pop? and do you think if yo added food coloring to the mix that it would still work, but change the color??? this is a really cool instructable!!

author
pjneese made it!(author)2015-02-06

For anyone wondering. Yes, you can add food coloring to create different candy glass colors. This is how candy canes are made red, although they are pulled to give a different sheen. the liquid drops work okay. However, there are gel food coloring supplies that are much more concentrated you can use as well.

author
TrollFaceTheMan made it!(author)2014-03-05

I made it, works great will hopefully do a video on it soon... Will link to this page seeing as I used your recipe... Thanks!!

author
TrollFaceTheMan made it!(author)2014-03-14

Am done :D (https://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-Fake-100-Edible-Glass-From-Sugar/)

author
TrollFaceTheMan made it!(author)2014-03-14

I can confirm that dyeing the glass does work fine, just make sure that it is cooled first to be safe... I added mine at 200F...

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TrollFaceTheMan made it!(author)2014-03-10

I used the Sugar Glass to make an Edible Nest for some Chocolate Eggs XD

From a first timers view... It is pretty tasking...

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porcupinemamma made it!(author)2011-12-20

Fantastic! Most excellent etc etc!! Your Instructable is amazing. Thanks for sharing.

author
ritchie56 made it!(author)2011-05-28

is it possiblt to vacuum out the air bubbles prior to pouring into the mold to get more realistic looking glass?

author
NaturalCrafter made it!(author)2011-04-27

Very cool project. Thanks for sharing.

author
Biggsy made it!(author)2011-03-02

Do you reckon that abit of green food colouring would make it look like a real glass bottle?
hrrrrrm time to experiment!

author
Turnip123 made it!(author)2009-08-10

Sugar? This is what I get when I instructable search for hard crack??!! BLAST!

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CoolKoon made it!(author)2010-01-09

Why don't you search for it on erowid.org instead? :P

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Lance+Mt. made it!(author)2010-02-19

 HA HA dangly parts.

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mossDboss made it!(author)2011-01-17

LOL , wheres the baby grand


nice instructable.

author
arts.gotta.gun made it!(author)2009-10-31

 jerk

author
furegistration made it!(author)2010-03-06

 Do you think this diamond ice mold would work?
www.surlatable.com/product/diamond+ice+mold.do

author
hedgiehog made it!(author)2008-10-26

sweeet, how well does it smash?

author
ERNesbitt made it!(author)2008-10-26

Quite well, I'm going to see if I can post a video of the bottle being broken (possibly over my head).

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tchiseen made it!(author)2008-10-26

Sweeet. I want to see the 'spun sugar' as well, do you do that too? Surely you're a master confectioner!

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jerico420 made it!(author)2010-02-18

can  someone make a cast foe me? plzzz

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Kryptonite made it!(author)2008-10-26

I personally can't do it, but I know the technique. You veery veery slowly poor the confectionary napalm (when it's still hot) and as it falls, you catch it from about 30 cm below where it's being poured, and by then it's generally hard. And then as it falls you use what you already have, and keep catching it into the desired shape. This is Extremely hard, but it's delicious!

spinnin sugar.jpgspun sugar.jpg
author
PKM made it!(author)2008-10-27

The way I saw it done, you dribble some out of a spoon to get a thin strand, and twirl the strand around a knife iron or a greased wooden spoon handle as it falls. It's essentially hand-spun candy floss. That was some master chef, though, I get the idea it's a difficult trick :)

author
Kryptonite made it!(author)2008-10-29

That's pretty much it essentially, there are different ways people do it. But yes, it is a difficult trick! Not my pics up there anyways, but I thought I'd post a pic. I wonder if ERNesbitt posts it in the 'able? *wink wink, nudge nudge*

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ERNesbitt made it!(author)2008-10-29

Can you give me an attribution from the image. It should probably be public domain. I don't like to use images that aren't mine, or public domain without the proper link-back to the source.

author
Kryptonite made it!(author)2008-10-30

attribution?!? Do you meen the html link? Just search google images or something because I can't remember where I got them, *sad face.* It'd be pretty cool to see them in the instructable, for every one.
BTW I voted for this with the contest, it's really good! And could you leave a html for the video of it being broken over your head? Or could you get it posted? It'd be pretty sweet!

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ERNesbitt made it!(author)2008-10-30

The video is in the last step. I'll see what I can find in the public domain that I can post here picture-wise for the spun sugar.

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Kryptonite made it!(author)2008-10-30

*smash* that was pretty cool when it got broken over your head! I was sort of waiting for you to fall over unconcious though. lolz, nice.

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ERNesbitt made it!(author)2008-10-30

Thank you for the vote!

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mdj817 made it!(author)2008-10-27

Couldn't you also just make a cotton candy machine with a bigger hole?

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ERNesbitt made it!(author)2008-10-27

Actually, I'm just a computer geek who likes to cook.

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volquete made it!(author)2008-10-28

w00t! me too!

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volquete made it!(author)2008-10-27

haha that would be cool!

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hedgiehog made it!(author)2008-10-26

sweeet, literally

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merseyless made it!(author)2008-10-27

lolz

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SallyForth made it!(author)2009-06-28

For the curious, here's another kind of a bottle mold:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/jacques-torres/gelatin-molded-champagne-bottle-recipe/index.html

It's by Jacques Torres.

author
Clayton+H. made it!(author)2009-12-21

will the gelatin whitstand the heat of the liquid sugar?

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ERNesbitt made it!(author)2009-12-22

No, gelatin melts at a relatively low temperature, but higher than the melting point of chocolate.  The molten sugar is around 300 degrees F.

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guy90 made it!(author)2009-07-24

How strong is the sugar glass? I've been thinking of loading my future bottle with a red liquid- for a gore bottle smashing effect!- just hope its strong enough to hold fluids

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ERNesbitt made it!(author)2009-07-25

It will hold a liquid, but you have to keep in mind that adding liquid just adds weight to the final smash. Depending on the size of the bottle, it weighs 8 oz. already. Adding half a cup of water brings it up to a full pound. The heavier it is, the more it hurts.

author
guy90 made it!(author)2009-07-25

ok, thank you

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Griffle made it!(author)2009-07-07

Where do you get food grade sillicon? I'v heard of sillicon for casting peuter which is for hight heat, but not for food. Please let me know.
=)

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ERNesbitt made it!(author)2009-07-08

I used http://www.smooth-on.com

The Smooth-Sil 940 is food grade, and will handle temperatures up to 450 degrees Farenheit.

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ERCCRE123 made it!(author)2009-04-19

Did you use a 2 part mold? and if you use a 1 part mold is the sugar glass strong enough to withstand being pulled out?

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ERNesbitt made it!(author)2009-06-30

It is a one-part mold. I had to be very careful when pulling the bottle out, but it was stable enough. I have some difficulty doing the same thing in chocolate.

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%7Btauney%7D made it!(author)2009-06-28

Chef's trick--use a wet brush around the sides of the pot to keep sugar crystals from forming. Basically--melt the darned things before they have a chance to grow. A little more work, but it's worth it to keep from having to re-do the whole damned thing!

author
jayeng123 made it!(author)2009-04-05

for the mold am I able to have a mold made of cast ?

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king_zilla made it!(author)2009-01-10

is your cast wine bottle hollow? or is it solid?

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ERNesbitt made it!(author)2009-01-18

It is hollow. I used a rotational molding technique. However, I have used the same recipe for solid castings. Your application determines the mold type.

author
shortone made it!(author)2009-01-18

I also want to know!!!!

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