Introduction: Easy Candy Floss (Cotton Candy) Machine From Junk

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Candy floss (or cotton candy) is great, but expensive to buy and hardly worth investing in a dedicated machine.

This is a quick project using an existing kitchen pot (unharmed) and a handful of junk that you probably have lying around to make your own candy floss from ordinary table sugar.

Essentially all you need for a candyfloss machine is a container of sugar with tiny holes in that you can heat (to melt the sugar) and spin around (to throw out the little threads of sweetness).  We'll put this inside a big pot because you don't necessarily want strands of re-solidified sugar all over your kitchen.

I'm entering this instructable in the Jury-Rig It contest 'cos it's a treat-machine rigged up from junk bits I had lying around.

Step 1: Things You Need:

You will need:

Construction items:

A jet-lighter (£3 off ebay).  These are lighters that burn with a blue flame.  They are hotter than normal lighters and don't cover everything in soot.  Get one that locks "on" because you don't want your arm covered in candy-floss from holding it.

Small DC motor (e.g. 9V - £1 or so again off ebay)
Battery for motor (pp3 in my case)
Battery connector
Small tin of food.  Mine was around 6cm high and had kidney beans in.  Tuna tins would be the right size but might give you fish-flavoured candy-floss.
Small lid in which your lighter will stand (miik bottle lid in my case)
Deep pot or bucket - the one in the first picture was much too small.  I used a stockpot in the end but a clean bucket would be fine.
Long baton -  longer than your pot is wide.  I used the runner from an old dishwasher drawer but anything wood or thin metal would work.
Long bar or tube as a stand-off (about 6").  I used a brass bar because I had it to hand and brass is nice and soft.  A wooden dowel would probably work too.
Small nut, bolt and washer.  I used steel so that it would tap itself into my brass standoff.


Bamboo skewers
5-minute epoxy


Drill with bits including a very small (1mm or less) bit.
Soldering station.
Tin snips or Can-opener

Step 2: Stabilise the Lighter

My jet-lighter stood up but was pretty unstable.  However, I couldn't just mount it in epoxy 'cos it fills from the bottom.

So, to make a base you can wrap the lighter in at least two layers of cling-film, mix up some quick-setting epoxy, fill a small lid with it and stand the lighter inside.  After a few minutes, take out the lighter and peel away the cling and you have a removable base for your lighter.

Step 3: Mount the Motor & Rod

The motor is attached to the can by a standoff so we need to drill a hole in one end of the standoff just large enough to take the motor shaft.  A pillar drill would make this a great deal easier but I managed reasonably by eye.  Once drilled, put the rod on the motor and spin it to check that it's reasonably true.

While you are drilling the rod, add a hole at the other end just smaller than your steel machine screw/bolt ready for the next step.

A little super-glue is enough to fix the motor to the rod.  I was going to use a grub-screw so that it could be removed but for the price of a little DC motor I decided not to bother.

The next thing is to attach your motor to the supporting baton.  My stainless drawer runner had a large hole that just needed expanding slightly with a file.  Two small mounting holes for screws and the motor is ready to mount.

Step 4: Mount the Can

The can will be our sugar melting vessel so we need to get sugar in, suspend it over the heat and spin it to fling the strands of molten goodness out of the sides.  

First-up we cut a hole in the top.  I did this with tin-snips and a file to leave a lip so the sugar could not get out the top.  In practice that seems to have been unnecessary, so a can opener to cut to top out would be fine.  Either way, smooth off the sharp edges to avoid injury.

Next, we want to drill a series of little holes around the bottom.  The smallest bit I had was 1mm, which was slightly too large and some sugar crystals tended to get flung out.  Use the smallest you have and drill a ring of holes just above the bottom seam.  Mine were about 1cm apart, but only by eye.

Step 5: Mount the Can

Next, cut a thread into the brass rod by screwing a steel machine screw into the pilot hole that you drilled earlier.  If you have a tap to do this properly then great, but brass is soft and it works well enough without.

Drill a hole in the can and mount it on the shaft.  The nut on the inside ensures that the can spins when the shaft spins.

We could glue or solder the can on but it's likely that you will want to remove it to clean or replace the can so the nut & bolt solution works well.

The can attached to the shaft should hang comfortably above the lighter when placed over your stock-pot.

Step 6: Make Some Candy-floss!

All that's left to do now is fire up the lighter, add a teaspoon or two of sugar to the can and start the motor.  

Try to position the lighter under the side of the can.  As the can heats the sugar will melt and be flung out of the holes to make you a tasty candy-floss treat.  Once a little has accumulated, scoop it up with a bamboo skewer or similar and enjoy!


Candy Contest

Grand Prize in the
Candy Contest

Jury Rig It! Contest

Runner Up in the
Jury Rig It! Contest

Epilog Challenge V

Participated in the
Epilog Challenge V