You finally picked out a cotton candy machine, it was pure happiness when it arrived in the mail, but now it is time to use it. This is where is gets sticky (pun totally intended) for a lot of people!
Whether you have a large commercial cotton candy machine, or a little table top machine, there are steps you can take to make the fluffiest, tastiest cotton candy your machine can offer. These are: observe the manufacturer’s recommendations for correct heat up time, fill with sugar at the appropriate time (not before) and always allow for a cool-down period prior to turning the machine off.
Nostalgia Electrics Retro Hard Candy Maker
If you got a little machine for the kids to play with by following our advice on picking the best cotton candy machine for home use, you are now staring at a Nostalgia Electrics Retro Hard Candy Maker. Plug your machine in, it’s time to get spinning.
Warm Up: Each time you use this machine, it needs to heat up for at least 20 minutes BEFORE you put any sugar in it. This is the most important suggestion we can give you for this cotton candy machine or any small table top cotton candy machine. If you put the sugar in before it is heated up, you will most likely end up with burned sugar melted to the sides of your machine. We warned you.
Spinning: There is a handy little sugar scoop included with the Nostalgia Electrics machine, it’s time to use that. Once the machine is heated up, pour ONE scoop of sugar into the moving head of the machine. Please do not pour more than one scoop, it will over-fill your machine which can very likely break your machine. When the sugar is poured in, the machine will almost instantly spin out cotton candy, move the cone in a circular motion around the head of the machine, catching cotton candy as it spins until you have a nice size cone. Be careful to not let your hands touch the center of the machine, the head is hot. If you need more than the two silicon cones included with this machine, we recommend the Gold Medal brand paper cones or generic paper straws for making mini cones. You will get one, maybe two medium cotton candy cones from the one pre-measured scoop of sugar floss.
Cool-down: When you are done making cotton candy let the machine continue to spin for about 2 mins to burn off any remaining sugar. It is important to burn off any remaining sugar or it will build up in the machine causing the next spin of cotton candy to burn. Turn off the power, wait for the machine to cool and then remove the head for cleaning.
Clean Up: One of our favorite features with this machine is clean up- a quick rinse in the sink and you are done! Please remember to supervise children with this machine! The head of the machine spins quickly and does get hot, supervision of children is strongly recommended. We also recommend protective eye-wear when using this or any cotton candy machine.
Great Northern Vortex
If you read about our favorite cotton candy catering and small event machine from our previous blog post, you are a proud owner of the super cute and very pink Vortex Cotton Candy Machine. Grab some protective eye-wear, we love this cute vintage pair from Amazon. Clip the bowl into the machine base, there are four clips total. If you bought the clear dome (we HIGHLY recommend the dome) place it on top of the bowl. This machine needs to be plugged into a grounded electrical outlet.
Warm Up: Press the power and controller buttons to the “ON” position. Let the machine run for 2-4 minutes to sufficiently heat it up, the machine may smoke a bit which is completely fine, the Vortex will smoke a bit to burn off old sugar or anything that has settled inside of the machine head.
Spinning: After 2-4 minutes of warm up time, grab the silver scooper that was included with this machine. For a very large cone, fill the scooper completely full, for a smaller cone, fill the scooper half full. While the machine is running, try to pour the sugar carefully into the head; avoid spilling any sugar on the sides of the head, you want the sugar to pour right into the center of the head of the machine. Spilling sugar along the sides of the head of the machine can cause damage to the machine, especially if sugar is poured down the sides on a continual basis. Grab a cone, the cotton candy will start to spin out instantly when you pour sugar in! This machine releases the cotton candy vertically so you will want to spin and twirl the cone horizontally above the head to catch the cotton candy on your paper cone. Pay close attention to not let your hands touch the center of the machine as the head of the machine gets very hot.
Cool-down: If you were only doing one spin of cotton candy and are now finished, let the Vortex machine run for about 2 mins to burn off any remaining sugar. After two minutes, you can turn off the power and control buttons. If you are spinning for an event and plan to spin a lot of cotton candy, you DO NOT need to turn off the machine between spins, once the machine is not producing anymore cotton candy, pour in another scooper full of sugar and get spinning again! If you have been spinning cotton candy and want to turn off the machine for 10 minutes or less, you do not need to wait 2-4 minutes to heat up the machine again when you come back to spinning. The Vortex will stay warmed up for about 10-15 while in the off position. If you are using the Vortex for an event and plan to run the machine for more than an hour, we recommend giving the machine about 15-20 minutes’ worth of rest in the off position for each hour you run it.
Clean Up: When you are completely done using the machine remove the clear dome and bowl, clean with warm water. Wipe down the base with a damp cloth, please do not put any water on the machine head; water is an enemy to the actual machine unit. Do not let small children near this machine while it is operating, the head of the machine spins very fast and gets very hot causing danger for any little fingers trying to touch it.
Gold Medal Whirlwind
For large scale cotton candy events, and for high volume manufacturing, we recommended the Gold Medal Whirlwind. This machine is absolutely what you want for any type of high volume output needs. The Whirlwind X15-A requires a 15A 120V outlet. Put on some protective eye-wear, we NEVER use the Whirlwind without protection over our eyes. Place the bowl on the machine base, clip in the net that hangs along the inner side of the bowl. If you purchased the clear bubble (again we think the clear bubble is crucial) place it on top of the bowl.
Warm Up: Turn the power and heat buttons to the ON position. Turn the heat control knob to the highest heat it can go. Allow the machine to run on max heat for about 2-4 minutes, the machine may smoke at this time as it burns off any residual sugar from previous spinning. Once the machine is nice and warm, bring the heat knob back to zero and turn off the HEAT button only. Leave the power button in the on position and let the machine run with no heat for about one minute. You always want to let the machine cool itself down before turning the power off. If you do not let the machine cool down for about one minute, you can break your machine!
Spinning: Once the machine is cooled down and turned off, pour your sugar floss into the machine. It is at this point you will see a lot of videos and instructions where individuals insist you can pour floss sugar into the machine head while it is spinning, we DO NOT recommend this as it has damaged the wire sheathing on one of our machines. Think of it like sugar blasting the floss head. The extra 1-2 minutes of time it will take is completely worth it for the life of your machine. Try to be careful to only pour sugar into the machine head and not along the sides of the head where sugar will drop into your machine and eventually build up. Fill the head full, then give the head a spin counter clock wise, the sugar will drop in the head of the machine making room for a bit more sugar to poured in, top off the sugar at this point. Give the head of the machine one more spin counter clock wise to evenly distribute the sugar inside of the head.
Turn the heat and power buttons to the on position, and turn the heat knob to the highest heat possible. As soon as the machine starts spinning out cotton candy, lower your heat to a number that is outputting cotton candy at a pace you can keep up with. We always say the lower the heat, the stronger the flavor and color will be in your cotton candy. Also, if the heat is too high, the cotton candy will spin out dense and heavy. On the other hand if the heat is too low, you will not get any cotton candy spinning out at all. You will have to find the “sweet spot” temperature for your machine; we like to run the Whirlwind around 70 volts, always under 90 volts per the voltmeter on the front panel of the unit.
Grab paper cones to spin the cotton candy on. You can also use food safe gloves and grab the cotton candy with your hands for bagging purposes, please be careful to not put your hands too close to the machine head, there are little leather floaters on the machine head you cannot see them when the machine is spinning, they will whip your hands if you get too close! If the cotton candy is starting to make a “hurricane” formation around the head of the machine, the leather floaters have been bent down too much. The next time the machine is off, twist the leather floaters up again, so that they stick out straight or even a little bit in an upward position, this is going to help the consistency and spin direction of your cotton candy. When the machine starts to slow down on output, slowly raise your heat until it starts producing again, you want to continue to slowly raise the heat each time production slows.
Eventually you will not have enough sugar left to spin out unless the machine is at maximum heat again. When you put the machine on max heat, discard any cotton candy that comes out at this heat, it will be burned, inedible, and most likely white in color. Once the machine is no longer producing cotton candy at max heat, turn the heat to zero, turn off the heat button, and let the machine run with no heat, for at least one minute to cool itself down again. If you plan to make more cotton candy, repeat the steps above until you are finished with your event or manufacturing.
Cool-down: When you are ready to clean up, let the machine run on maximum heat for about 3 minutes or until it no longer is spitting off small rocks of burned sugar (this is the machine cleaning itself). Then turn off all heat and let the machine run another 3 minutes to cool down.
Clean Up: Remove the clear bubble and bowl, rinse both with warm water. You can wipe down the machine base with a damp cloth, but never wipe the machine head with water. Water is never to be used on the machine head, the Whirlwind self-cleans itself through heat which you will have already done at the end of your spinning. This machine is not intended to be used by small children, the head is very hot, moving at a fast speed and could cause serious injury to little hands.
Conclusion: All of these cotton candy machines require different steps to be taken for use, but all will produce fluffy, flavorful, melt in your mouth cotton candy. After a few times of using your machine you will be a pro and spinning up some delicious sugar clouds will be a cinch. Have you used one of these machines? Any tips we forgot to mention? We love hearing from you guys!