Uses of Sugarcane

By Bronwyn Timmons

While sugarcane is normally associated with sweet desserts, this plant actually has a variety of other uses. Originating in New Guinea around 6000 B.C., sugarcane found its way to the Americas around 1493. This versatile plant has found its way into many non-food products, and can be used in several surprising ways.

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Sugarcane can be used in a number of ways.

Skin Care

Cross section of lemon
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Cross section of a lemon

Sugarcane is a common ingredient in many body scrubs and exfoliating products, as its grainy texture when refined makes it useful for scrubbing away at dead skin cells. Sugarcane can also be mixed with lemon juice and other ingredients to create an all-natural, organic wax that is used to remove body hair.

Alcohol

Whiskey
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Glass of rum on rocks

Molasses, a substance created by sugarcane production, is an essential ingredient in rum alcohol. Sugarcane was first used to create rum in the West Indies during the 17th century. Pure alcohol is also created using molasses.

Bio-Plastics

Many bottles of clean water with blue and green lids
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Plastic water bottles

Traditional plastics are not biodegradable, but modern technology has allowed scientists to create a compostable bio-plastic that is eco-friendly using sugarcane as a primary ingredient.

Tobacco

Arabic Shisha Waterpipes Lined Up In A Restaurant
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Shelf of hookahs

Molasses and pure sugar can be added to tobacco to create a sweet-tasting mixture traditionally smoked through a hookah. Known as "shisha," the tobacco used for hookah comes in a variety of flavors, including fruit flavors.

Cane Ethanol

Pumping Gas
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Car at service station

Ethanol, an alternative to gasoline, is a more eco-friendly fuel that is made using sugarcane. This is considered to be a more renewable resource than traditional gasoline, as sugar production to create cane ethanol occurs at a very fast rate.

Fertilizer

Gardening Soil
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Soil

When combined with other ingredients, including lime, sugarcane can be used to create an organic fertilizer and soil improver. Using a sugarcane fertilizer can help improve the quality of soil, improving the quality of any food grown in that soil.