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Food

Chemistry in Pictures: Sweet crystal, bro

by Craig Bettenhausen
November 17, 2020

20201117lnp20-sugar.jpg
Credit: EdyMarin

To make maple syrup, you take sap from maple trees and boil off most of the water. Getting the final concentration right can be tricky because the syrup is usually bottled hot to keep yeast and other microbes out. But if you take out too much water, the final product is supersaturated: there’s more sugar than the water can dissolve. When that happens, you get crystals instead of smooth syrup. Reddit user EdyMarin’s mom had an extreme case of supersaturation. This crystal grew so big it cracked the glass around it! Though the liquid portion of precious pancake potion drained out of the broken bottle, the syrup makers still have this crystalline keepsake to show for it.

Credit: EdyMarin (reddit)

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