Refining raw cane sugar into white table sugar is a complicated process that involves hundreds of organic, inorganic and electrolytic materials. The sugar cane is cut, washed in hot water and pressed; the juice is then mixed with lime. The canes may also be burned, mixed with soda ash and exposed to a myriad of chemicals in order to clarify the sugar. Many of these chemicals can cause irritation to different parts of your body and, in high enough doses, some of them can even be poisonous or toxic.
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Cane sugar is naturally brown because of the presence of molasses. During the drying process, raw sugar cane juice is mixed with lime and evaporated. Sulfur dioxide is added to milled white sugar before evaporation. This is what makes table sugar white. The sulfur dioxide bleaches the cane sugar. Sulfur dioxide is the chemical that, when released by factories using fossil fuels, combines with the atmosphere and can produce acid raid. It can also have adverse effects when inhaled.
Phosphoric acid is another chemical used in manufacturing table sugar. It is added to liquid sugar before evaporation in order to remove any impurities. This acid is also commonly added to carbonated sodas. Phosphoric acid is not innocuous; it has been linked to tooth decay. Studies show that this additive can be as damaging to your teeth as battery acid. Phosphoric acid is also a skin and respiratory irritant, which adds to the potential for harm.
Calcium hydroxide is another chemical added to raw sugar in order to purify it before evaporation. Calcium hydroxide is a poisonous white powder that can cause many adverse effects when ingested in significant quantities. These include vision loss, severe throat pain, severe skin and eye irritation, bloody stool, vomiting, low blood pressure, organ damage, breathing difficulty and tissue necrosis. Raw cane sugar is less processed than table sugar and does not contain calcium hydroxide.
A newer method for clarifying cane sugar into white table sugar involves using anionic inorganic colloids. These chemicals, also known as polyacrylamides, are a product of acrylamide, a known neurotoxin. These can damage male reproductive glands and sweat glands. They are eye and skin irritants that can also cause urinary incontinence, myalgia, speech disorders, nausea, sweating, numbness and many other symptoms, including feeling "pins and needles" throughout the body.
- Green Living Tips; White Sugar vs Raw Sugar; January 20, 2007
- Healthy Eating Politics: White Sugar -- The No Nutrition Food
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Sulfur Dioxide
- Natural News; Phosphoric Acid in Sodas Nearly as Damaging to Teeth as Battery Acid; April 5, 2007
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety; Health Effects of Phosphoric Acid; February 1999
- "New York Times"; Calcium Hydroxide Poisoning; February 7, 2010
- Macrobiotic Guide: Sugar -- Its Effects on the Mind and Body