How to Measure Sugar Color

Raw sugar has a high color value and must go through refinement and purification before consumption. The International Commission for Uniform Methods of Sugar Analysis (ICUMSA) has several methods for the colorimetric determination of sugar at a known concentration, also called the Brix value. By measuring the color with the ICUMSA color chart, you can ensure consistency and understand the value of your product.

Why Measure Sugar Color?

Color is an indication of freshness and quality in many foods, including sugar. The sugar color chart measures the amount of yellow in the sugar. This color indicates residual molasses that was not removed during the refining process. There are several reasons to measure sugar color. By doing so, you can:

  • Improve refining processes: The sugar color is the result of the steps of the manufacturing process, so this data can help monitor and control sugar refining.
  • Add more visual appeal: Sugar color is appealing to consumers, and consistent color is key to product sales.
  • Produce better quality food products: The color of sugar is indicative of its quality, and its quality will go on to impact that of any food made with it.

What Is the ICUMSA Method?

The ICUMSA color scale determines the solution color of raw sugars, brown sugars, white sugars and colored syrups as well as the decolorization of glucose syrups. It is an indication of how much residual molasses was left behind during the refining process. The more processing steps the sugar goes through, the more color is removed. Raw sugar is dark brown, and highly refined sugar is white.

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Sugar color is measured by the sugar concentration and its UV absorbency. The value of its absorbency index multiplied by 1,000 equals the ICUMSA color. The sugar color chart and testing methods improve manufacturing quality and control.

Several ICUMSA methods are available, including:

  • GS2/3-10
  • GS1/3-7
  • GS2/3-18
  • GS2/3-9
  • GS9/1/2/3-8

Sugar Color Measurement Equipment by HunterLab

A spectrophotometer determines sugar’s light absorption by measuring the light’s intensity as it reflects from or passes through the sample to determine the sugar’s exact color and offer insights into its quality.

At HunterLab, we have solutions for measuring white sugar and brown sugar. Our benchtop directional and diffuse geometry spectrophotometers use light in the UV-visible range of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum. Here are some other features of our spectrophotometers:

  • The ability to get Haze% and ICUMSA 420 Sugar Score measurements simultaneously in a single measurement
  • D/8° transmittance measurement geometry for liquid sugars and directional 45°/0° geometry for opaque sugars 
  • PC based and embedded Quality control software

Contact HunterLab Today

At HunterLab, we know that the color of your sugar solution indicates its quality. We have spectrophotometer equipment designed for measuring the color of brown and white sugar. HunterLab will help your processing facility gain the quantitative value of precise sugar color measurements. As a result, you can achieve the best product standards possible.

For more information on how to measure sugar color, contact us online.