How to Check the Purity of Jaggery

Written by colleen de koning
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How to Check the Purity of Jaggery
Check jaggery for purity. (brown sugar image by jazzid from

Jaggery is a traditional unrefined sugar product made from cane juice or palm juice, and is used as a sweetener for foods and alcoholic beverages in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Molasses is not removed during production, giving it a typical colour range from golden brown to dark brown, with the darker colour being preferred as more pure. Jaggery is usually found in block or paste form. Jaggery can be tested for two common adulterants, metanil yellow (a coal tar dye) and sodium bicarbonate, to determine its level of purity.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Test tube or small glass container
  • Eyedropper
  • 1/4 tsp measuring spoon
  • 1/2 tsp measuring spoon
  • 1/2 tsp jaggery, crushed to powder
  • 1 tsp hydrochloric acid/muriatic acid
  • 1/2 tsp rubbing alcohol
  • Wooden or metal stirring stick
  • Rubber gloves (dishwashing gloves will work)

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    To Test Jaggery for Metanil Yellow

  1. 1

    Measure 1/4 tsp of crushed jaggery into a test tube or glass container.

  2. 2

    Add 1/2 tsp of alcohol to the container and use the stir stick to blend thoroughly.

  3. 3

    Put on the rubber gloves and fill the eyedropper with muriatic acid or hydrochloric acid. Add 10 drops of the liquid from the eyedropper to the container.

  4. 4

    Check for any colour changes. Any colour change to pink indicates the presence of metanil yellow, proving that the jaggery is not pure.

    To Test Jaggery for Sodium Bicarbonate

  1. 1

    Measure 1/4 tsp of crushed jaggery into the test tube or glass container.

  2. 2

    Put on the rubber gloves and measure 1/2 tsp of muriatic acid or hydrochloric acid into the container.

  3. 3

    Watch for signs of effervescence (bubbles) in the mixture. Effervescence indicates an adulteration with sodium bicarbonate, meaning the jaggery is not pure.

Tips and warnings

  • Hydrochloric or muriatic acid can be found in pool supply and some home improvement stores.
  • Darker coloured jaggery is more likely to be pure.
  • Always wear gloves when working with muriatic acid/hydrochloric acid. It is very corrosive and can melt plastic and burn skin. Dishwashing gloves will provide enough protection.
  • If muriatic acid/hydrochloric acid gets on your skin, wash immediately with cool water.
  • Always use glass or metal when working with corrosive materials.
  • Wash your containers and utensils well between and after any testing.

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