Sugar Cube Magic – SICK Science

Sugar Cubes are magical, especially with some misdirection.

You’ve let your friend in on a secret: you bought some magical Imperial Sugar or Dixie Crystals sugar cubes. Seriously! This Sugar Cube Magic will blow the socks off of your friends. Have your friend pick a number between 1 and 10, then write it on the sugar cube. From there, it’s a fun experience in misdirection and magic as you dissolve the sugar cube in water!

Experiment Materials

  • Sugar cubes (we found the best results when using Imperial Sugar and Dixie Crystals)
  • Sharpened pencil
  • Cup of warm water
  • A friend
  • Adult supervision

Experiment Videos


Watch the video (above) to see how the performance piece of this experiment should look. Then, follow the instructions to recreate the experience!


  1. Have your friend give you a number between 1 and 10 and write the number on one side of a  sugar cube.
  2. Pick the cube up and press the pad of your thumb onto the sugar cube where you wrote the number. Squeeze firmly.
  3. Drop the sugar cube in the cup of warm water.
  4. Stir the water until the sugar cube is dissolved.
  5. Grab the hand of your friend, firmly pressing the pad of your thumb against their palm.
  6. While have your friend’s hand, place the hand, palm down, over the water. Tell them to wave it slowly.
  7. Tell your friend to turn their hand over to reveal their number written on their palm.

How Does It Work?

When performing the Sugar Cube Magic experiment, the key is making the performance look natural.

After you’ve written your friend’s chosen number on the Imperial Sugar or Dixie Crystal sugar cube, you have to press your thumb onto the cube. Doing this as you place the sugar cube in the warm water will leave your friend none-the-wiser to your secret.

The other important movement is placing your thumb in the palm of your friend. Try to press your thumb to their palm WHILE guiding their hand over the glass. This gives you an opportunity to press your thumb while hiding the reveal of the hidden number. Telling them to wave their hand over the cup while you move their hand takes their attention to the cup and away from your thumb in their palm. Classic misdirection resulting in their mind being blown!

While playing tricks on your friends is fun, there is also a bit of science in the Sugar Cube Magic experiment. Pencils write because of the black material, graphite. Graphite is essentially, carbon atoms in their standard state. Some of the graphite you write onto the sugar cube transfers from the cube to your thumb. This is due to a lack of cohesion and adhesion. The same happens, again, when you press the graphite into the palm of your friend!