Sugar Refining

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

sugar refining is the process of converting raw sugar into a high-purity white sugar. Raw sugar is a fairly pure product, normally varying between 98 and 99.5 percent pure sucrose. The refining process is largely dictated by the need to remove color and the other non-sucrose components. Refining is essentially a separation process rather than a bleaching operation.

Non-sucrose components from the raw sugar end up in the molasses stream. The lower the purity of the raw sugar, the higher the quantity of molasses produced. Since some sugar is present in the molasses, the yield of white refined sugar is usually between 95 and 99 percent, depending on the raw sugar. One of the major aims of the refiner is to minimize the loss of sugar in the molasses. See molasses.