Black Sugar is a powerful reaction based on dehydration of sugar.  This reaction shows you how sugar get dehydrated when it combines with a powerful suphuric acid.

Safety First! Adult supervision required. Wear protective eye wear and clothing. Don’t eat/drink your experiments.

Materials and tools required


  • Concentrated Sulphuric Acid
  • Powdered Sugar


  • Glass Bowl

Video on the YouTube for experiment

What to do!

Step 1 – Take a Glass bowl and pour some powdered sugar.

Step 2 – Carefully pour some Sulphuric Acid into the bowl

Step 3 – Observe the reaction and watch the sugar turning into black and rising from the glass bowl

Images for instructions

Working principle of the activity

Sugar is a carbohydrate, so when you remove the water from the molecule, you’re basically left with elemental carbon. The dehydration reaction is a type of elimination reaction.

C12H22O11 (sugar) + H2SO4 (sulfuric acid) → 12 C (carbon) + 11 H2O (water)                                                                                                           + mixture water and acid

Although the sugar is dehydrated, the water isn’t ‘lost’ in the reaction. Some of it remains as a liquid in the acid. Since the reaction is exothermic, much of the water is boiled off as steam.

The sulfuric acid removes water from the sugar in a highly exothermic reaction, releasing heat, steam, and sulfur oxide fumes. Aside from the sulfurous odor, the reaction smells a lot like caramel. The white sugar turns into a black carbonized tube that pushes itself out of the bowl.

Safety Precautions

  • Sulphuric Acid is a strong acid, it should be handled with care.
  • Do it in a well-ventilated area, under a fume hood, or outdoors. There may be a small amount of smoke.
  • It’s a good idea to wear protective eye wear and clothing, as for any science demonstration. Avoid wearing synthetic fabrics, as they readily melt if exposed to flame. Cotton, silk, and wool are good choices, or you can wear a lab coat.