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



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    90 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome 'ible!

    You can crush your favorite hard candy to turn into delicious cotton candy. One of my family's favorites is lifesavers. We add single flavors or mix 2 or 3 together. Always comes out delicious. Lifesavers also offers a sugar free option. You can't tell the difference.

    Yummy Earth makes delicious hard candy/lollipops that we've also used. So VERY delicious.

    If you want that true cotton candy flavor you can buy floss sugar. It's pretty easy to find online.

    Have fun and remember to brush your teeth after all that sugar. :)

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    What a great plan! I only tried basic table sugar and that pretty closely resembled the cotton candy that you buy. I must try this with crushed West Indian Limes - that would be incredible.


    2 years ago

    Thanks for all your work in creating the machine and posting the instructions, they're great guide lines to follow.
    I used a drill instead of a small motor and i got the locking torch lighter at Canadian Tire, they sell it as a mini soldering torch.
    I also mixed some crushed Jolly Ranchers to my sugar/syrup mixture and melted it before adding to the machine allowing the torch lighter to maintain the liquid state of my sugar.
    It worked great and tasted excellent.
    My kids and i loved it.
    Thanks again ?

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago


    Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for posting such a kind comment. Did you take a photo of your machine? If you did, post it and there's a 3-month pro-membership for you so you can look around instructables for other projects you fancy without all those annoying ad's!

    Keep up those projects!



    3 years ago

    Nice project. One way to make larger quantities would be to heat up the sugar into a liquid, and then pour the liquid in to the tin. No need of a lighter, and the amount of candy that you could make would be much faster and more voluminous.



    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Cool! - thanks for posting.

    If you paste in a picture, there's a 3-month pro-membership available for you.



    4 years ago on Introduction

    Really nice design! Simple, cheap, and solid. Loved it!


    5 years ago

    playdoh works great on the inside of the cap to hold the lighter..... did not have apox. res.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Very cool.
    I am having a birthday party in a couple of days and will try to make this.

    Though I got to ask you where you bought the jet lighter from?
    I have been trying for many days to find one with a lock mode on ebay but cant see it in any of ebay items description.
    Could you send me the link?

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I'm afraid my one was several years old and the seller is no longer on ebay - this project really was just stuff I had lying around.

    However, these do lock on: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Coney-Large-Tank-Windproof-Jet-Lighter-Flame-Lock-Electronic-Gas-Childproof-/151042039333
    They are only one flame so I don't know that they will be quite so effective but I did have one of that design for a while and the lock worked fine.



    5 years ago

    Congratulations on winning.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Good plan - Never tried sugar-free but I see no reason to think it wouldn't work.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Ha ha ha! Congrats on Winning the Cotton Candy machine!!! :) Too ironic! :)
    Great tutorial...looks like I'll be making one soon!

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! Yes, I did wonder whether I would be barred from the grand prize on the basis that I didn't need it! Still, this one will be much grander and the kids will be impressed!