Watch a Chemist Turn Cotton Balls into Tasty Cotton Candy

YouTuber and chemist NileRed has pulled off a feat that sounds like a magic trick: he’s turned cotton balls into genuine cotton candy. In the video below the chemist shows how he pulled off the shocking transformation step by step. And while the end product is indeed edible seeing how NileRed makes it isn’t the most appetizing spectacle to watch.

NileRed recently posted his sugary transformation to his channel. Apparently the Canadian chemist had been working on a way to turn cotton balls into literal cotton candy for years; something he knew was feasible as cotton balls technically consist entirely of sugar. (If that’s a revelation for you too, welcome to the club.)

In the 30-minute-long video the chemist shows in a fantastically educational way how he pulled off his transformation. He notes that the big obstacle to extracting the sugar from the cotton balls is the cellulose wrapping around the glucose molecules. The chemist then spends most of the video figuring out how to discard the cellulose but retain the glucose. The cellulose, incidentally, consists of glucose as well but in such a way that the enzymes our bodies produce can’t break it down.

Creamy brown chips of sugar in a small pile against a white backdrop.


To discard the cellulose, NileRed goes through an arduous series of reactions that involve enzymes, acids, and aquarium cleaner. You have to watch the video for the whole sequence, but there are a few remarkable moments. Watching an entire bag of cotton balls dissolve in a little beaker full of sulfuric acid is pretty great. And also pretty gross, as that mixture produces a greenish sludge that looks anything but consumable.

After removing and filtering out the glucose from the cotton balls, NileRed then takes it, bakes it, and sticks it inside of a cotton candy maker he bought off Amazon. Again, there are numerous steps between the chemist, having the dried sugar chips, and actually making the cotton candy. But he ultimately prevails.

A ball of creamy brown cotton candy next to a white cotton ball.


As for the final product? It looks like a sad, furry peep that somebody shredded into a nest of brown twine. However, the chemist confirms—with bites!—that the cotton candy tastes OK. Not good, he says, but also not bad. Which makes us wonder what treats he could make with all of that cotton PPE that’s ending up in our oceans.

Featured Image: NileRed

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