Maple Syrup:For Pancakes, Waffles...and Crystal Candy?This is a featured page

Maple Syrup: For Pancakes, Waffles, and... Crystal Candy?he 1. Background Research Maple syrup is a concentrated solution of sugar in water. A solution is a liquid mixture in which the minor component is uniformly distributed within the major component. When maple syrup is heated, the
water evaporates off the sugar and becomes concentrated. Evaporation is the process when liquid is turned into vapor. Concentration is the relative amount of a particular substance contained within a solution or mixture. Sugar molecules form crystals as the maple syrup cools down. Molecules are a group of atoms chemically bonded together and are the smallest units of most compounds. A crystal is a piece of a solid substance having a natural geometrically regular form with symmetrically arranged plane faces.

Sucrose, glucose, and fructose are all found in maple syrup. Sucrose is a compound which is the chief component of sugar. Glucose is a simple sugar which is an important energy source in living organisms and is a component of many carbohydrates. Lastly, fructose is a simple sugar found mainly in honey and fruit. When maple syrup is heated in this experiment, it should be brought to a boil and cooked until it is very thick and viscous. Viscous is just an adjective that means having a thick, sticky consistency between solid and liquid. Imitation maple syrup, which is often labeled as pancake syrup or simply syrup in the United States, is a sweet, viscous liquid that is usually colored to resemble darker maple syrup. This syrup rarely contains any actual maple syrup – if it does, it is most often for marketing purposes, rather than taste – and is a very different taste experience than true maple syrup.
Imitation maple syrup is made from sugars of cane, beet, and corn syrup. It is also artificially flavored. Only pure maple syrup is allowed to be called maple syrup–any product that is less than 100% maple is usually referred to as imitation maple syrup, pancake syrup, or just syrup. Maple syrup will not freeze solid because of the high concentration of the sugar in the liquid.
2. Question Do imitation maple syrup and pure maple syrup crystallize differently?
3. Hypothesis The pure maple syrup will form more crystal-like structures and have different results than the imitation maple syrup because it doesn’t have all the extra additives and ingredients that imitation maple syrup has.
4. Experiment A. Materials:
  • A small baking pan filled with a thin layer of water and frozen to create a flat sheet of ice.
  • Pure maple syrup
  • imitation maple syrup
  • Saucepan
  • A large spoon
  • A 2nd small baking pan at room temperature
  • Stopwatch
  • A lab notebook
  • Ruler
B. Procedure:
  1. Before you heat the maple syrup, make a sheet of ice by placing a thin layer of water in a baking pan and keeping it in the freezer until it is frozen solid.
  2. Once the water in the baking pan is frozen, heat the maple syrup over medium heat in the saucepan, stirring constantly. (Note: You will need the help of an adult for this part).
  3. Bring it to a boil and allow it to cook, uncovered, until it is very thick and viscous. Keep stirring to make sure that it does not burn.
  4. Set out the baking pan with the sheet of ice on the counter top.
  5. On another flat area of the counter, set out the other room-temperature baking pan.
  6. Use your spoon to drop one dollop of the hot, thick maple syrup onto the ice or onto the room-temperature baking pan. You might want to drop the dollop on the frozen baking sheet first, before the ice melts.
  7. Do not touch the dollop yet - it will still be really hot!
  8. Watch as the maple syrup cools. Use a stopwatch to time how long it takes for crystals to form and solidify on the dollop.
  9. Observe the shape and measure the length of the crystals. Use a magnifying glass to get a close look at the crystals.
  10. Record your observations about how long it took for the crystals to form and how the rate of cooling affected their size in your lab book. Use a data table, like the one below. Remember, your notes and observations should be clear enough that someone else could use them to reproduce your results.
Method for Cooling Syrup Length of Crystals Time Until First Crystal Visible Notes
Ice on baking sheet      
Room-temperature baking pan      

11. Repeat steps 6-9 until you have observed at least three dollops on each baking sheet. If your first dollop was on the frozen baking sheet, you might want to drop your next two dollops there, too, before the ice melts. However, if it does start to melt, simply re-freeze it and you can continue with your trials on the room-temperature baking sheet.
C. Data
Pure Maple Syrup
Method for cooling syrup Length of Crystals Time Until Hardened Notes
Ice on baking sheet No 'crystals' formed 1.) 00:24.58 2.) 00:37.14 3.) 1:00.14 The maple syrup cooled quicker on ice.
Room-temperature baking pan No 'crystals' formed 1.) 00:51.76 2.) 2:00.10 3.) 2:41.62 The maple syrup took longer to cool.

Imitation Maple Syrup
Method for cooling syrup Length of Crystals Time Until First Crystal Visible Notes
Ice on baking sheet No 'crystals' formed 1.) 1:18.44 2.) 1:27.08 3.) 1:41.69 The imitation cooled slower than the pure maple syrup, but it hardened better.
Room-temperature baking pan No 'crystals' formed 1.) 2:54.42 2.) 3:45.59 3.) 4:59.4 The imitation syrup took longer to cool and form into a solid piece.

  Observations The pure maple syrup cooled quicker on the ice sheet, but didn't crystalize. It also took a long time for the maple syrup to reach viscosity. The maple syrup formed many tiny bubbles in the cluster-like shape it formed as it cooled. The maple syrup took longer to cool on the room temperature baking sheet and formed many more bubbles than those on the ice sheet. No crystals formed with the syrup on the room-temperature baking sheet either. They both formed circular clump shapes. The imitation syrup took longer to cool, but hardened better and had a more crystalized effect. The maple syrup produced more bubbles than the imitation syrup.
D. Results The pure maple syrup cooled quicker than the imitation syrup. Although the imitation syrup took longer to cool, it hardened better than the pure maple syrup, meaning it was harder than the pure maple syrup. It also had a more crystalized look to it.
5. Conclusion My results supported my hypothesis. I was able to find differences between imitation maple syrup and pure maple syrup, which include their reactions to heat, the cooling rate, and how they cool and form differently. The experimental procedure was fairly simple. It consisted of heating syrup until it reached its viscosity point, and cooling it on two different surfaces. The procedure also included, timing the crystallization process and recording the data and observations. Some changes I would make in the experimental procedure include testing more than one type of pure and imitation maple syrup, testing syrup that was heated for a longer or shorter amount of time, and different cooling methods. Experimental results are useful because they help you understand your experiment and give you the opportunity to compare your results with other results of the same experiment. The experimental results are interesting because I learned new things from the results and from doing the experiment. I learned the differences between pure maple syrup and imitation maple syrup, including, how long it takes for them to cool and harden, their viscosity points, and how each of them hardens differently on different surfaces. Some possibilities for further study would be to conduct more tests and do more research on the materials that are being worked with. Also look up other people's results and see how my results compare and contrast with theirs.
6. Sources

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