The magic behind fairy floss and how they have put it at the service of science

The product that you can make with our fairy floss machine has a very particular confection: the sweet spongy texture does not look like any other edible product. What else is lighter than the air in your hand and seems to evaporate when it rubs your lips, leaving only its sweet flavour and a pink […]
fairy floss

The product that you can make with our fairy floss machine has a very particular confection: the sweet spongy texture does not look like any other edible product. What else is lighter than the air in your hand and seems to evaporate when it rubs your lips, leaving only its sweet flavour and a pink trace?

Children – and sometimes adults – are fascinated as much as ice cream for astronauts. And, like this last option, which moisture is eliminated in a draining chamber, there is an interesting chemistry in its composition. A chemistry that may even have applications beyond desserts. And today at Snow Flow we will let you know why renting our floss machine is an excellent option for you.

Fairy floss, light as a cloud.

In fact, some researchers use a floss machine to help the development of new tissues in the laboratory.

How is it done?

The starting point for the product coming out of a fairy floss machine is solid sugar, which is poured into a small hopper with an electric heater. Surrounding the entrance of the hopper is a ring with tiny holes, and around it there is a large metal container that resembles a huge pan. The first floss machine was patented in 1897.

As the heat melts the sugar and makes it liquid, an engine starts the entire spinning system. The liquid sugar is thrown by the force of the twist through the tiny holes to the other side, like a bunch of rags almost invisible.

As the sugar mass begins to melt, separating into very small pieces, it leaves a much larger surface area than before – a large part of it exposed to cold air – and passes from liquid to solid in an instant. The resulting sugar web is collected from inside the huge pan and you can use a paper cone to lift it and create that familiar shape. With a floss machine you can easily improve the conditions in your party.

From the pan to the commercial fairy floss machine

The cotton candy machines make this process relatively simple, but some time ago there were people who made it manually. A recipe for “The complete housewife”, from 1773, begins: “Take 113 grams of refined sugar in a lump and put it on moderate heat.”

Many popular festivals are not conceived without a floss machine that can make delicious cotton candy for the guests. ¬†Once the sugar melted and began to “run like water,” the next step was to dip the tip of a knife into it and – quickly, very quickly – draw a long thin thread of sugar that had to be placed quickly around of a mould.

Afterwards, to nail the knife again, continuing while the sugar was still melted, during the necessary time to obtain enough sugar threads to wrap over the candy cotton produced by our fairy floss, forming a nice net or nest.

Luckily for those of us who do not have so much patience and dexterity, in 1897 two Americans applied for a patent for a cotton candy produced by our fairy floss machine. “To whom it may concern”, began his request, “we, William J. Morrison and John C. Wharton, citizens of the United States residing in Nashville, in the county of Davidson and the state of Tennessee, have invented some improvements in machines of candies”.

Centrifugal force does most of the work and the new options

It was, according to the document of “a pan or rotating pan with caramel or melted sugar causes said candy or sugar form masses filaments as thread or silk by centrifugal force due to rotation of the container”. And despite the boring descriptions, the invention was a success.

At the Universal Exposition of San Luis (USA), in 1904, Morrison, who, ironically, was a dentist, and Wharton sold spun sugar to all visitors. According to an article by Bruce Feiler, they sold the huge sum of 68,655 boxes.

The way to prepare fairy floss with machine has not changed.

After that, improvements were made to the machine, which apparently had a problem with the vibration, but the original artefact remains similar to the one used today. And this method for making a solid compound from a liquid material has potential medical applications.

Scientists at Vanderbilt University (also, by chance, in Nashville), are using cotton candy machines to develop cells, as part of a program to create artificial tissues. A problem with the gels currently used by scientists working in this field, is that these are not always porous enough, so the cells cannot populate them.

But the Vanderbilt team uses its machine to spin a cloud of polymers embedded in a gel and then dissolve them, leaving behind an intricate network of vessels. And 90 percent of the cells that were created in this structure are still alive a week later, compared to a survival rate of between 60% and 70% for gels without vessels.

The process that allows the manufacture of cotton candy with a fairy floss machine is being put at the service of science. So, while you savour your wonderful cotton candy cloud, which melted and became solid again in the blink of an eye, think of the housewives who used to make it with a knife and the men who made it possible for everything the world could enjoy it.

And in the possibility that the same method can, one day, help us to manufacture new fabrics.

What better than planning big party with a fairy floss machine? It will be an event that will delight all the guests, especially the children, and perfect for enjoying the day, sunbathing and spending super fun moments. Here at Snow Flow you can find popcorn machines, fairy floss machine and chocolate fountains along with many other machines that will help you make the most enjoyable environment for you and your guests.