The sugar manufacturing process is executed through the growing, harvesting, and processing of sugarcane. Sugar beet may also be used in the sugar refining process. The actual sugar production process will vary depending upon the type of sugar being made: granulated, liquid, brown, or inverted sugar.
Most sugar comes from sugarcane, a tall tropical grass. Considered a perennial herb, sugarcane can be planted by hand or machine, and should be grown in well-drained soil. It generally takes sugarcane up to twelve months to mature enough for harvesting. Sugar beets, a secondary source of sugar, are root crops that require a similar period of growth prior to being harvested.
Harvesting of sugarcane can be completed by hand or machine as well. Harvested crops of sugarcane are transported to sugar mills where the mechanical part of the sugar manufacturing process begins. Stalks of sugarcane are usually cleaned of any organic matter, such as dirt or insects, then washed to make them as sanitized as possible before they are physically changed. This cleaning process is usually done with the aid of a machine, such as a high pressure water jet, and combing drums that sift out larger objects, like rocks.
Once cleaned and ready, sugarcane is milled in order for the juice to be extracted. The juice is then both filtered and purified before being boiled. As the juice thickens, it crystallizes, becoming raw sugar. The raw sugar is then spun quickly in a centrifuge, or rotation chamber, in order to fully remove all of the juice and wetness.
After raw sugar is created, the sugar manufacturing process continues by shipping the product to its next finishing step. If the product is being sold as raw sugar, it may be packaged and sent to grocery stores and retail venues for sale. If it is meant to be transformed into refined sugar, it will be sent to a sugar refinery.
At a refinery, the raw sugar will be cleaned and drained once again. The refining step of the sugar manufacturing process will then remove all color and non-sugar particles left within the product, resulting the white, crystalline granules that many people sprinkle on top of their morning cereal. The process for making sugar used with sugar beet roots is similar to the one used for sugarcane, and involves cutting the beats into strips before milling them for juice. The manufacturing of other sugar products, such as Indian gur or khandsari, is also similar to the one used for granulated sugar.