As much as we might try and avoid it sometimes, consuming sugar is a daily part of a lot of our lives, whether it is added to our morning coffee or when we sneak that afternoon candy bar pick-me-up.
However, when it comes to sugar – also known as granulated sugar, which is the most common sugar consumed worldwide – it can become hardened for a variety of reasons, such as when it comes into contact with a liquid. The same is true for brown sugar.
Dry heat can also cause moisture to occur, which is why it is so important to store sugar in an airtight container. As a bonus, it also keeps pesky bugs out. If your sugar is as hard as a rock, there are solutions for softening it.
How to Soften Rock-Hard White Sugar Using a Food Processor
If you own a food processor and something to break down the sugar such as a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin, then this method is sure to become a go-to.
Start by storing the hardened sugar in a large-sized storage bag and sealing it well. Using the meat tenderizer or rolling pin, break apart the hardened sugar into small pieces.
Next, get the food processor. Put the sugar inside and hit pulse for a few moments until the sugar regains its regular soft texture. Be sure that you don't go too overboard with this, or you could end up with powdered sugar.
How to Soften Rock-Hard White Sugar Using a Microwave
For this method, start by pouring all of the sugar from the original container in which it is stored into a microwave-safe bowl. Place a plate or a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the bowl and microwave for one to two minutes.
Softening Hard Brown Sugar
Like white sugar, brown sugar isn't immune to becoming hardened over time. It can actually be worse than white sugar since the lumps are larger and are harder to break apart.
This means that the same process of using a rolling pin or meat tenderizer to break down the sugar will not work, so you have to be a bit more creative in your methods. The following methods will work for both types of sugar, brown and white.
Method #1: Using a Moist Paper Towel
To get sugar out of a jar – especially brown sugar – you will need a moist paper towel and the use of a microwave. Start by taking the lid off the jar in which you keep the sugar and then place the moist paper towel on top. This can also work for bags of sugar. Microwave on high heat for around 30 seconds.
The sugar should change in form enough to create softer lumps that break apart more easily. When putting it back into the storage container, be very certain that the lid is sealed properly to prevent any air from getting inside.
Method #2: Using a Slice of Bread or an Apple Slice
This method will take about 24 hours, so if you have time to spare, it could be a good option. All you have to do is place a slice of bread or apple slice into the jar, reseal it and then let the clock begin. After 24 hours, the moisture from these items will help break apart the sugar so you can enjoy your sugar again. Then, go forth and let the baking – or whatever sugar high you had planned – begin.
Method #3: Using Scissors
This softening trick requires the safe use of scissors or a knife. You cut a few "x's" throughout the sugar and then break up the rest of the lumps with your hands.
One of the main reasons why sugar becomes hardened is because liquid has come into contact with the sugar, such as if you used a wet spoon to add sugar to your morning coffee.
It may seem harmless to do so, but this can actually affect the whole container or canister of sugar. To avoid this, always ensure that whichever item you use to scoop out sugar is completely dry before you use it.
How Do You Get Hard Sugar Out of a Jar?
Even though we seal sugar away in jars to help prevent hardening, life happens, and this means that the sugar could be hardened so much that it is now stuck inside the jar. When this happens, don’t toss that jar out!
Simply grab a moistened piece of paper towel (it should be damp, not dripping) and place it inside the container that holds the hardened sugar.
Leave it in there overnight in a cool, dry place and in the morning, remove the paper towel and crush the sugar with a spoon or fork until it becomes soft again. You could also use another type of utensil to break things apart.
How to Soften Hard Cookies
It is hard to imagine that cookies don't get gobbled up as soon as they are out of the oven, but it can happen. This means that cookies could get left out and harden, or, sorry to say, the cook may be to blame because he may have overcooked the cookies, thus also causing them to harden.
No one wants to break a tooth on a cookie, so while you can't return cookies back to the super-soft state they were in when fresh from the oven, you can unharden things a bit. It just takes a bit of work using the tried-and-true methods that work.
To soften hard sugar cookies, use the method of adding a slice of bread or apple slice to the container holding the cookies and sealing it tightly. In the end, you will be left with soft cookies thanks to the moisture from the added items.
How to Unharden Sugar Wax
It turns out that sugar isn't just for eating. You can also use it for waxing various body parts. What is essentially just sugar, lemon juice and water is said to be a lot quicker and less painful than traditional waxing.
Making your own batch at home can be fun to do, but what’s not so fun is when you end up with hardened sugar wax. It can make all of your effort feel like a total waste of time. The good news is that it is quite easy to unharden sugar wax.
To reverse hardening, simply add around 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to the wax. (You may have to add more water if the wax is really hard.) Microwave it for 30 seconds until it becomes the texture of syrup. Stir the mixture a lot to really incorporate the water inside and then let it cool down to room temperature before using it on your skin.
Sarah is a multi-platform writer and editor. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Vital Proteins, Healthline, Diply, and more. When she's not writing, she's trying to keep up with her border collie, Emmy.