I always get confusing why the appearance of normal sugar (the white one), brown sugar and red sugar are different although they are sugar. Is it because they each have different molecular formulae or different number of bond or maybe the brown and red sugar have some transition metal inside?

I really don't. So, I wish someone will help on this question.


2 Answers 2


The white sugar you refer to as "normal" sugar is mostly pure sucrose, which forms translucent whitish crystals.

White sugar doesn't start out white --- it's actually refined from a plant extract (primarily from sugarcane) that is a mixture of sucrose, glucose, fructose, and some minerals including calcium, iron, and magnesium. The unrefined extract is "raw" sugar, and these minerals give it a brown color.

Brown sugars are partially-refined sugars which still have some of the other components besides sucrose. When it's fully refined, the appearance is white.

When we refine the raw sugar, the remainder is referred to as molasses -- a dense, dark brown syrupy mixture of sucrose, glucose, fructose, and some minerals which give it the signature dark brown color.

Red sugarcane doesn't produce red sugar as @LDC3 stated. "Red sugar" is actually refined sugar with a red pigment added to it... unless you're talking about what the Chinese refer to as "red sugar" -- which is just their name for brown sugar!

  • $\begingroup$ you could extend this answer by mentioning how the sweetness compares between brown and white. P.s. the bag of undyed chinese red sugar I have looks a pastel orange! $\endgroup$
    – jiggunjer
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:55

Molasses is collected from sugarcane when it is spun. It is dark brown, and when dried, makes brown sugar. Some varieties of sugarcane are red, producing red sugar. Further processing of the molasses will remove the color and produce white sugar.

Processing of sugarcane:

  • $\begingroup$ This is not a chemistry answer. Please include in your answer an explanation of what accounts for the differences in color. For example, what makes red sugar from red sugarcane red? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ @StevenT.Snyder You're welcome to post your answer that includes everything you desire. If the OP wants more information tan what I provided, he can certainly ask for it. $\endgroup$
    – LDC3
    Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 1:48

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