- Heat 3 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water just to boiling, stirring continuously. Make sure all of the sugar dissolves, leaving you with a clear solution. You can add food coloring or flavoring if you like.
- Set the pan of hot syrup aside to cool (it's ok to put it in the refrigerator for ~ 15 minutes). In the meantime, dampen a cotton string (preferably with the saturated syrup) and roll it in sugar. Set it aside to dry while your solution is cooling.
- When your solution is around room temperature, pour it into a clean glass or jar. (If you happen to have any leftover syrup, pour it onto a saucer. It will form crystals overnight, leaving you with a sparkly rock candy disk to eat or suspend in a window to catch the light or whatever.)
- Suspend the string in the glass so that it isn't touching the sides or bottom of the container.
- Set the container in a location where it won't be disturbed, away from temperature changes and vibration.
- You'll get rock candy, probably within a few hours, but wait 3-10 days until the crystals are really big before removing the candy from the liquid and allowing it to dry.
- You can help your crystals grow by removing (and eating) any sugar 'crust' that forms on top of the liquid. If you notice a lot of crystals forming on the sides and bottom of the container and not on your string, remove your string and set it aside. Pour the crystallized solution into a saucepan and boil/cool it (just like when you make the solution). Add it to a clean jar and suspend your growing rock candy crystals.
Photo: Douglas Whitaker