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How To Stop Hard Candy From Sticking Together: I Try 5 Methods

The main enemies of hardy candy are moisture and humidity. The smallest bit of water will turn your sweets into a sticky, gooey mess.

It can seem almost impossible to stop this from happening.

But not anymore.

I go through the best methods for preventing hard candy from sticking together. I talk about:

  • Storing the candy correctly
  • Things you can add to your storage containers
  • How to prepare the candy so it has the best chance of staying fresh

I’ve tried and tested each of the methods I suggest to see how they compare – and find out what method truly is the best.

To stop hard candy from sticking together, coat the candy in a thin layer of cornstarch. The cornstarch will absorb any excess moisture from the air, protecting the candy. Next, put the candy in an airtight glass container. Glass is better than plastic because it’s not permeable to air vapor.

From left to right: Hard candy with rice, with silica gel, in powdered sugar, in cornstarch, and normal.

How to stop hard candy from sticking together

The main reason candy goes sticky is because it’s been exposed to moisture. The candy is devoid of moisture, so it draws in anything it can find.

Sort of like me in the days after my month-long chocolate ban. Any chocolate I saw, I ate.

The best way to stop this from happening is to add something else to your candy storage container that will absorb the water first.

Then there’ll be none left to ruin the candy.

In my case, this meant bringing my chocolate obsessed niece everywhere with me. She ate everything before I could get to it.

Coat the candy in cornstarch

Cornstarch is the best way to keep hard candy from sticking together. And no, you can’t taste it.

Cornstarch has a very fine texture, an EXCELLENT ability to absorb moisture, and is virtually tasteless.

These three factors make it the perfect candidate for stopping candies from sticking together. 

The fine texture means it coats the candy thinly and evenly, and its lack of flavor means it doesn’t affect the taste of the candy.

But most importantly, it will absorb any moisture from the air surrounding the candies. This protects the candy and stops it from becoming sticky.

The cornstarch worked best for me in my experiment. You could tell the candy was coated with something, but it just looked like a dusting of sugar.

Even if the candies were a little sticky before you coated them, the cornstarch was still effective. This wasn’t the case for some of the other methods.

Coat the candy in powdered sugar

Powdered sugar is the next best thing to stop your candies from sticking together

An alternative to cornstarch is powdered sugar, also known as confectioners sugar or icing sugar. 

Powdered sugar often contains cornstarch to prevent caking (the sugar turning into a hard lump because it’s absorbed some moisture).

Therefore, powdered sugar is just another way of coating your candies with cornstarch. Except it imparts a little more flavor.

The sweetness from the sugar is great if you have a really sweet tooth!

I found powdered sugar was a little less effective than cornstarch, but not by much. The sugar tends to clump together a little more than the cornstarch but is still effective at keeping the candies loose.

Spray your molds with a light cooking spray

Coating your candy in a powder is easy and effective but does have one downside.

It dulls the shine of your candy and gives them a dusty texture.

If you want to keep the shine, one solution is to coat your candy with a tasteless oil.

Food grade mineral oil (available on Amazon) is best, but you can also use coconut oil or PAM cooking spray. If you’re using molds, coat the molds before putting the candy in. This will also prevent the candy from sticking to the molds.

Oils are naturally slippery and also absorb moisture. They work well to keep the candy un-sticky. (is that even a word?).

This method worked well in the short term, but I’m not sure it would hold up over the longer term. Make sure you only have a very thin layer on the candy. Too much will give it a slimy texture.

Use granulated sugar

Sugar is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture from the air.

The sugar in your candies is what makes them sticky when they come into contact with water.

Rolling your candies in granulated sugar will mean the outside sugar absorbs the moisture before it gets to the sweets, protecting your candies from damage.

It’ll also make your candies extra sweet and give them a crunchy texture.

Im my opinion, granulated sugar is useful in a pinch.

But since granulated sugar isn’t powdered, I found it hard to get a good coating. If you have powdered sugar, try that first. 

Put rice in the bottom of your storage container 

Using rice is great IF your candies aren’t already sticky before storing them

If you drop your phone in some water, you can almost GUARANTEE someone will say ‘quick, put it in some rice!’

This is actually a handy suggestion. Dry rice absorbs moisture quickly, so it will help to dry out your phone.

It will do the same with your hard candies. Filling the bottom of your container with dry rice will prevent moisture from ruining your candies.

You can even color the rice with food coloring to add a decorative touch.

The rice worked pretty well but you have to make sure the candies aren’t already sticky when you put them in the jar. Otherwise, the rice will stick to them and that is not ideal!

Use desiccant packets (silica gel packets)

Food safe silica gel packets are a great way to absorb moisture in candy containers

What’s a desiccant?

Desiccant is a catch-all term for a substance that you can use as a drying agent. 

But what I mean are those tiny packets you find in shoe boxes and electrical items. The packages are filled with silica gel or beads. 

Silica readily absorbs water from the air, meaning there’s none left for your candies to absorb.

What’s cool about these packets is that you can regenerate them in the microwave (so easy!!). I use these packets from wisedry (sold on amazon). I like them because they change color depending on how much moisture they’ve absorbed. 

This means you can see them working and know exactly when they need drying out.

The silica gel packets are great because they were easy to add retrospectively to the candy container. They worked well, but they’re not something most people have on hand.

Individually wrap the candies

This isn’t my favorite method (i’ll tell you why in a minute), but it is very effective.

Wrapping each candy in cellophane or candy wrapping (moisture-proof wax paper sold on Amazon) will protect them from air exposure and, therefore, from moisture. For long-term storage, it’s imperative that your packaging isn’t permeable to air vapor.

I’m not a massive fan of this option because it feels quite wasteful, and I try to avoid using excess packaging if I don’t have to.

In most cases, corn starch or one of my other suggestions will work.

It also takes a long time if you have a lot of candies!

How to store candies to keep them from going sticky

As well as adding things into your container or coating your candies, there are things you can do in terms of storage that will help keep the candy un-sticky.

Choose an appropriate (air-blocking) container 

Everyone knows you need to store your candy in an airtight container, but which airtight container is best?

Plastic is not suitable here because it’s permeable to air vapor. Water vapor from outside the container can penetrate the plastic and render your candies soggy and sticky. You can remedy this by having silica gel packets in the container. But to prevent it from happening in the first place…

Use a glass container.

Glass isn’t permeable to air vapor. You don’t have to worry about outside water getting in.

Keep them in a cool, dry environment

Candies need to be kept in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. 

The pantry is perfect, or a basement if you’re sure there are no pests.

The temperature in the pantry is relatively stable, and it’s nice and dark. 

Keep them separate from other types of candy

You should store hard candies separately from candies that will give off moisture.

Otherwise, a moisture swap will start.

The hard candies will draw moisture out of the softer candies, leaving the hard candy soft and the soft candy hard.

Hard candies VS soft candies

Fudges, creamy candies, and jelly sweets are all considered soft. Caramels, mints and any boiled sweets are considered hard candies.

Preparation

Fail to prepare and prepare to fail is the saying.

You can start preparing your candy to be rock hard when you’re cooking them.

Make sure ALL the moisture is evaporated from your mixture

Candies can absorb moisture from the air, which will render them sticky. 

But if you don’t cook all the moisture out of the candy mixture during the heating stage, this moisture can come back and bite you.

Any excess moisture within the candy will turn it sticky.

You need to make triple sure all the moisture has evaporated. Heat your mixture to AT LEAST 300 degrees, maybe even 310. 

Use an accurate thermometer 

This one comes part and parcel with the suggestion above. 

Cheaper thermometers can have a shocking margin of error, sometimes as much as +/- 20 degrees!

To test your thermometer, boil a pan of water and check the temperature. It should read 212 degrees. If it doesn’t, I suggest getting a new one. But until then, you can simply work out the difference and add or subtract it from your candy temperature readings.

Another thing to watch out for is holding your thermometer too close to the bottom of the pan. This can throw off the readings.

You can either use an instant-read thermometer (usually marketed for meat) or a candy thermometer. These candy thermometers (available on Amazon) have a clip so you can attach them to the side of your pan. This means you get a constant temperature read. 

Store the candies AS SOON as they’re cool

I’ll repeat that.

Whatever your storage plans, do it AS SOON as the candies are cool. The longer the candies are left out exposed to air and moisture, the more likely it is that they’ll become sticky. 

As soon as they’re cool enough not to cause condensation in their container, put them away. 

Cook and cool the candies in a non-humid environment 

If candies were ice, then humidity would be heat.

They just don’t mix. High humidity means there’s more water in the air, so the candies will go sticky MUCH quicker.

If you’re planning to cook candies, but the day turns out to be super humid, the best thing to do is wait for another, less muggy day.

If you live in a climate where humidity is the norm, try blowing a fan over the cooking/cooling area of the candies. Air conditioning is a big help too.

How long do hard candies last?

Hard candies will be at their best for up to a year if you store them correctly. After this, the flavors and colors might start to dull, but the candies will still be safe to eat.

If any moisture gets into the candy, they’ll become very sticky and less appealing. Therefore, the more humid your environment, the shorter you can expect your candy’s life to be.

Can you freeze hard candy?

You can freeze hard candy, but there is usually no need. Hardy candy has zero moisture so won’t be affected by freezing. It’ll just get really cold. In most climates, the candy will last just as long at room temperature as it would in the freezer.

If you live somewhere very humid, then the freezer may help prolong your candy’s life by protecting against the excess moisture in the air. 

The hard part then is taking them out of the freezer. You don’t want condensation to form on the candy because this will make them sticky. 

Keep your candy in its airtight container and wrap it in a kitchen towel. Then leave the candy to come up to room temperature slowly. This will reduce the risk of condensation. 

Should you keep hard candy in the fridge?

No, you should keep hard candy at room temperature, not in the fridge. There’s no need to refrigerate it for safety reasons and hard candy lasts longer at room temperature than it does in the refrigerator. Moisture or condensation in the refrigerator can turn your candy sticky.

While your fridge itself might not be moist, the food in it has lots of moisture that can be absorbed by your candy. The condensation that forms when you open the fridge will also have an effect.

The only time I would say it’s okay to keep your hard candy in the fridge is if you live in a tropical environment where it’s really humid most of the time. 

Then your candies will be slightly more protected from moisture in the refrigerator, but they won’t last as long as they would have in a non-humid pantry. Another idea would be to freeze them.

How To Stop Hard Candy From Sticking Together

The main enemies of hardy candy are moisture and humidity. The smallest bit of water will turn your sweets into a sticky, gooey mess.
It can seem almost impossible to stop this from happening.
But not anymore. In this recipe I detail the 7 best ways to stop your hard candy from sticking together.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 1 person
Calories 12 kcal

Equipment

Candy wrappers (optional)
Silica gel packets (optional)

Ingredients
 

  • 1 portion hard candy
  • 1 portion cornstarch
  • 1 portion powdered sugar

Instructions
 

Coat the candy in cornstarch

  • Cornstarch has a very fine texture, an EXCELLENT ability to absorb moisture, and is virtually tasteless.
    These three factors make it the perfect candidate for stopping candies from sticking together.
    The fine texture means it coats the candy thinly and evenly, and its lack of flavor means it doesn’t affect the taste of the candy.
    But most importantly, it will absorb any moisture from the air surrounding the candies. This protects the candy and stops it from becoming sticky.

Coat the candy in powdered sugar

  • An alternative to cornstarch is powdered sugar, also known as confectioners sugar or icing sugar.
    Powdered sugar often contains cornstarch to prevent caking (the sugar turning into a hard lump because it’s absorbed some moisture).
    Therefore, powdered sugar is just another way of coating your candies with cornstarch. Except it imparts a little more flavor.
    The sweetness from the sugar is great if you have a really sweet tooth!
    I found powdered sugar was a little less effective than cornstarch, but not by much. The sugar tends to clump together a little more than the cornstarch but is still effective at keeping the candies loose.

Spray your molds with a light cooking spray

  • If you want to keep the shine, one solution is to coat your candy with a tasteless oil.
    Food grade mineral oil is best, but you can also use coconut oil or PAM cooking spray. If you’re using molds, coat the molds before putting the candy in. This will also prevent the candy from sticking to the molds.
    Oils are naturally slippery and also absorb moisture. They work well to keep the candy un-sticky. (is that even a word?).
    This method worked well in the short term, but I’m not sure it would hold up over the longer term. Make sure you only have a very thin layer on the candy. Too much will give it a slimy texture.

Use granulated sugar

  • Rolling your candies in granulated sugar will mean the outside sugar absorbs the moisture before it gets to the sweets, protecting your candies from damage.
    It’ll also make your candies extra sweet and give them a crunchy texture.
    Im my opinion, granulated sugar is useful in a pinch.
    But since granulated sugar isn’t powdered, I found it hard to get a good coating. If you have powdered sugar, try that first.

Put rice in the bottom of your storage container

  • Filling the bottom of your container with dry rice will prevent moisture from ruining your candies.
    The rice worked pretty well but you have to make sure the candies aren’t already sticky when you put them in the jar. Otherwise, the rice will stick to them and that is not ideal!

Use desiccant packets (silica gel packets)

  • Silica readily absorbs water from the air, meaning there’s none left for your candies to absorb.
    The silica gel packets are great because they were easy to add retrospectively to the candy container. They worked well, but they’re not something most people have on hand.

Individually wrap the candies

  • Wrapping each candy in cellophane or candy wrapping (moisture-proof wax paper sold on Amazon) will protect them from air exposure and, therefore, from moisture. For long-term storage, it’s imperative that your packaging isn’t permeable to air vapor.
    I’m not a massive fan of this option because it feels quite wasteful, and I try to avoid using excess packaging if I don’t have to.
    In most cases, corn starch or one of my other suggestions will work.
    It also takes a long time if you have a lot of candies!

Nutrition

Calories: 12kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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