What’s the difference between white and raw sugar in terms of environmental impact? What about raw and brown sugar – are these the same product?
Let’s take a brief look at how each of these cane sugar variations are created.
How raw sugar is made
Sugar cane is initially pressed and the juice is then mixed with lime to achieve the desired ph balance and to help settle out impurities. The resulting liquid is reduced through evaporation, then a centrifuge used to separate sugar crystals. It is then dried further to produce granules. The brown color of raw sugar is due to presence of molasses.
How white sugar is made
“White” sugar is created in a couple of ways.
Mill white sugar is the result of sulphur dioxide being introduced to the cane juice before evaporation. It effectively bleaches the mixture.
In the production of refined white sugar, which is the most common product in the Western world, the raw sugar syrup is mixed with a heavy syrup and run through a centrifuge again to take away the outer coating of the raw sugar crystals.
Phosphoric acid and calcium hydroxide are then added to the juice which then combine and absorb or trap impurities. Alternatively, carbon dioxide is used to achieve the same effect.
The resulting syrup is then filtered through a bed of activated carbon to remove molasses and then crystallized a number of times under vacuum. It is then further dried to produce white refined sugar like we buy in the store.
Brown sugar is refined white sugar with a molasses syrup mixed in, then dried again.