Sugar Sand (AKA Nitre)

First, What is Sugar Sand?

It is very common for sugar sand — also called nitre — to build up on the floor of an evaporator pan. This collection of minerals precipitated as the sap condensed. You will find that the amount of nitre in the sap will vary geographically as well as year to year. It won’t hurt you if you eat it, but having too much sugar sand build up in your pan could cause your pan to overheat and could also generate off flavors in your syrup.

After boiling is complete, sugar sand should be filtered out of your syrup so that it is clear and beautiful. Your finished product should not look cloudy or hazy. Be sure to filter at bottling temperature 180º – 190ºF. If your syrup is much hotter than that after it passes through the filters, more sugar sand will generate and you will have to re-filter. Learn more about this in our Barrel to Bottle Series.

Removing Sugar Sand From Your Evaporator Pan

The method of removing sugar sand from the floor of your evaporator pan is dependent on the type of pan being used. For more pan-specific details, see our article “Reversing The Flow”.

  1. Flat Pans and Hybrid Pans will need to be drained and cleaned.
  2. Divided Pans, Raised Flue Pan Sets and Drop Flue Pan Sets are all “reversible”, meaning you can change the direction in which the sap is traveling through the pan. By doing this, the sap is able to pick up the minerals it had previously dropped.