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Construction of Variegated Disaccharide “J” Tubes AKA Candy Canes

candy cane

 It’s a recipe that no one except a Chemist could read but it makes a holiday favorite! Chemistry students at Canfield High School are making Variegated Disaccharide “J” Tubes AKA Candy Canes the scientific way! The students will be making them following a scientific recipe on December 22, 2017, from 8:00-9:00 a.m. and 12:15-1:30 p.m. in the Chemistry laboratory. The recipe is below.

Construction of Variegated Disaccharide “J” Tubes

Purpose: To observe the effect of torsion on the visible configuration of certain groups of macromolecules.


Sn Pan                         ring stand set-up           paraffin coated paper

Spoon                          measuring cups

Bunsen burner             thermometer


Sucrose crystals (C12H22O11)                         Liquid Plant starch (C6H10O5)

Extract of Olea europaea                        Mentha peperita extract

Potassium hydrogen tartrate (CHC4H4O6)

Edible pigments



1.       Combine 145 g sucrose, 35 g starch, 40 mL water, and 0.5 g potassium hydrogen tartrate in a Sn pan. Thoroughly agitate with a spoon.

 2.       When a uniform mixture is achieved, subject the mixture to intense heat from the nearest source of C3H8. When the mixture begins to boil, lower the flame. During the operation (approximately 20 minutes) avoid stirring because any external agitation will be detrimental to the desired effect.

 3.       The quantity of heat is proportional to the viscosity of the product. This is an important factor in determining the end point of the reaction. When the thermometer reaches 132 degrees Celsius, sufficient heat has been added. Remove the burner.

 4.       Add plant extract (approximately 2 mLs) and stir. Pour one-half of the mixture onto the paraffin-coated paper which has been lubricated with Olea europaea extract.   Then spray some of the lubricant in your palms. The paraffin-coated paper should be placed on top of paper towels to prevent the paraffin from melting onto the table top. To the portion of the mixture remaining in the pan, add 1 mL of red pigment. Now pour the colored mixture onto another piece of lubricated paraffin paper.

 5.       When the mixture has cooled to a tolerable heat, initiate torsion on both portions to counter their tensile strength. Continue to stretch with both hands until the desired tensile strength is reached. Divide each color into four 8 inch segments. When ready, combine one non-pigmented segment with a pigmented segment. Do so with torsion. Place the distortions on a clean section of paraffin-coated paper and shape them into “J” conformations. Permit the final product to remain undisturbed until the molecules become adapted to this position.

Analysis: Perform a critical taste test comparing your product with a commercially synthesized product.

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Canfield Local School District
100 Wadsworth Street | Canfield, OH 44406
Phone: (330) 533-3303
Fax: (330) 533-6827