How can I reuse or recycle sticky hard sweets/candy?

We’ve had a short but sweet (ha!) email to Compost This from Matea:

Can I put sweets gone sticky in my compost bin?

As with many “can I compost this?” questions, there is no fixed answer that applies 100% of the time in 100% of the situations. In a basic open heap, I’d say no – the sweetness may attracted unwanted insects and if it’s only breaking down slowly, you might end up with a sticky lump in the middle of your heap. Even when it does breakdown, they won’t add that many nutrients to your compost heap – in the same way they’re not exactly nutritious for us to eat either.

In other situations though, sugar can be good for a compost heap – it encourages bacteria growth in bins otherwise lacking (bins filled with leaves usually need more help than bins filled with a mix of stuff including kitchen waste) – so in that situation, you might want to add your sweeties. To avoid the sticky lump thing, you could try heating them up and making them into a runny sugar water solution. Said solution can also apparently be used to perk up weak plants – a soak for bare roots – or even, moving away from compost, overworked bees. What else can they be used to perk up?

Any other uses?

(Photo by BarBloke)

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9 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle sticky hard sweets/candy?”


  1. Kara says:

    Most of the time, the candy gets sticky due to humidity, so it’s preventable by using airtight containers next time. Any hard candy can be remelted with a little water and made into new candy. I’ve also seen ‘windowpane’ cookies made by putting hard candy in the center of sugar cookie cutouts and baked – the oven melts the candy.

  2. Alice says:

    Hmm, if they can be melted down (and maybe mixed with something to keep them a bit more liquid when cold) then might that be nice drizzled on ice cream?

    • louisa says:

      Or, following on the ice cream line, crush them up with a pestle and mortar to make a crunchy sherbet-line topping. Mmm, ice cream covered in bits.

  3. MAV says:

    I realize this is a UK site but if anyone like me is reading this from North America or Mexico, what about dissolving it and feeding humming birds?

    • LadyDreamgirl says:

      Don’t try feeding this sort of thing to hummingbirds. They need just pure sugar water. The dyes and flavoring agents in candies wouldn’t be good for them. You’re trying to match what they naturally eat as closely as possible, which is why it’s probably best to get a bee expert’s advice before trying to feed melted candies to bees as well. Sugar water is close to what bees and hummingbirds eat, but it’s not exact. You’re better off not messing around with what you stick in your hummingbird feeders. Also, it seems like melted hard candy, even if it’s watered down, might be somehow stickier than regular sugar water and gum up the works of the feeder.

  4. Put them in the refrigerator to make them a little less sticky, and therefore suitable for reuse. Put them in a little container with a scoop of icing sugar mixed with fine corn flour, and shake them around a bit, and they may be nice and neat and edible again.

    You can ‘reuse’ the peppermint flavoured ones to make mint tea with. Make yourself a hot cup of regular black tea, and then melt one or more peppermint sweets in it.

    Alternatively, put the sweets in a plastic bag / piece of baking paper or foil and use a rolling pin to crush the sweets into smaller pieces. You can decorate cupcakes, cakes and cookies with the candy pieces, instead of buying expensive cake-decorating dragees.

    You can also arrange them on a baking sheet or in a confectionary tin and put sticks (clean ice lolly sticks or bamboo cocktail skewers with the sharp ends cut off with a pair of garden pliers) in the middle and melt them to make your own lollipops. Google lollipop recipes to find out the best temperature and duration for making lollipops with.

  5. Kim says:

    You can also dissolve them in alcohol (depending on the flavor) to make flavored shots.

  6. addy says:

    it depends on the type of candy, but i know horses love certain kinds. my horses love (sorry, i don’t know if you guys have the same candy in the uk as in the u.s) candy hearts. i think that any kind made mainly out of sugar should be ok for horses, but you might have to check.

    • Miranda says:

      Addy,
      I find it a litttle weird that you give your horse candy hearts. Candy hearts contain gelatin, which can be derived from horses. That’s like giving a pig pepperoni!



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