How is sugar kosher? Someone told me that when they make sugar they use different ingredients to separate the sugar from everything so how is the whole process kosher after getting past all the ingredients? And what are the ingredients used?
The Star-K goes through the manufacturing process and concludes there really aren't any serious concerns. The main steps and ingredients are quite simple.
They raise, and then put to rest, a few minor factors that may be involved, and if any remain in the final product, would be in minute, invisible, untaste-able quantities that would be "nullified":
Apparently, the sugar had been passed through the [milk] protein in order to purify it and the impurities were left behind in the protein. This finding was reported in several Jewish sources with sensationalistic titles such as, “Sugar May Now Require Round the Clock Supervision.”
However, there is “nothing new under the sun.” Over 500 years ago, there was a letter in the responsa of the Radbaz in regard to sugar. At that time, milk was added to sugar during its production... Due to various considerations, including the fact that the amount of milk was actually minuscule, the Radbaz was lenient.
The logic of the Radbaz holds true for the Chinese sugar as well since the amount of milk used is very insignificant. Additionally, this has not been found to be a widespread occurrence overseas, and is not being practiced in the U.S. at all. Furthermore, a filtering aid does not end up in the final product....
Other issues do commonly arise in this day and age. For instance, the carbon decolorization at many cane sugar refineries occurs through the use of bone-char particles. These are electrically-charged pieces of burnt cattle bones. While one might assume that this would be a kashrus concern, in truth it poses no problem. This is because the bones are completely burnt, thereby undergoing a chemical change which converts them to pure carbon. In addition, the bone-char is completely unfit for human consumption and, therefore, may be used in processing the sugar. The bone-char is subsequently removed from the sugar and is not chemically evident in the final product.
The anti-foaming agents that control the froth which is created in the refining process may sometimes be of non-kosher animal origin. However, the amount used is insignificant and would be batel, nullified, in the sugar. Therefore, the kosher consumer may purchase any pure cane or beet sugar even without kosher certification.
If you have a specific concern, feel free to add it into the question.