A Guide To Bone Char Free Sugar

Finding the best bone-char-free sugar for you and your household can be challenging. There are dozens of sugar options on the shelves, but many don’t denote whether they use bone char during production. This process can be frustrating for many vegans or those with dietary restrictions.


Luckily, many brands don’t use bone char and can offer relief to vegans and those with dietary restrictions, allowing sweets back into their diet. There are also plenty of alternatives to sugar that vegans and non-vegans can enjoy.


Bone char sugar may be hard to avoid. However, with some diligence and patience, you and your household can adopt a new diet with sugar that tastes more natural than the refined white sugar many people are familiar with using in daily life.

What Is Bone Char?

Bone char is also called bone black. Bone black or bone char is a form of charcoal produced when an animal bone is heated and burned. Bone char is a normal part of burning bones, but many people don’t know that in certain countries, including America, table sugar uses bone char during refinement to create its white color.


Bone char usually comes from cattle bones from:


  • Afghanistan
  • Argentina
  • India
  • Pakistan


These bones get sold to European, South American, and African countries, which use them while making sugar.


Vegans may not realize that they’re accidentally consuming an animal product in everyday foods like candy, desserts, and dairy-free yogurt that use bone-char sugar. 

Why Is It Used In Sugar Production?

Bone char is used to create white, refined sugar, which is heavily processed and leaves only the sugar behind without its natural color. 


Some brown sugars also use bone char, so judging your sugar by color won’t guarantee you’re consuming bone-char-free sugar. Many companies use refined sugar with molasses to create dark, brown sugar.


Bone char is also referred to as natural charcoal, making it difficult to spot since it can go by many names. Bone char can be in anything, from beauty products and cosmetics to food items, making it challenging to spot a non-vegan product.


While not all countries use bone char in the sugar filtering process, most white sugar from America is subject to this process.

How Does Bone Char Free Sugar Differ?

Bone-char-free sugar isn’t refined and tends to be bulkier. Usually, bone-char-free sugar doesn’t come in powdered form or in tiny crystals. Instead, a bone-char-free sugar will be lumpy and take longer to dissolve in liquid.


Bone-char-free sugars are often sweet but not overpowering. They also have a darker, more natural coloring. Bone-char-free sugar mixes well into other ingredients, although it may take more patience and time to dissolve or get folded into a batter.


Fortunately, there are plenty of other sweeteners on the market for those who don’t want to use bone char sugar or take a guess at which sugar options are vegan

Bone Char Free Sugar Brands

Many brands are committed to helping those with dietary, religious, and moral convictions against eating or using bone-char sugar. These sugar brands can keep you from consuming bone char products while maintaining a sweet and natural taste in your favorite sweet treats.

Many of these brands vow to keep their products as unrefined and natural as possible.

Florida Crystals

Florida crystals is a cane sugar company headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida. This company has a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions section on the website, where they answer many questions about their products and dietary restrictions.

Florida Crystals doesn’t use bone char in any of their products. Additionally, their products are:

Sugar in the Raw

Sugar in the Raw is one of the foremost sugar brands in recent years. This brand doesn’t use bone char, meaning their sugar crystals maintain a dark, natural hue. This sugar brand also doesn’t use a bleacher or filtering process, making its product unrefined.

Although Sugar in the Raw has darker, bulkier sugar crystals, they still substitute refined sugar well in recipes and other products. These crystals may take slightly more time to dissolve, however.

While Sugar in the Raw is a little pricier than other sugar brands, you can rest assured knowing you’re getting a high-quality, cruelty-free product.


Tubarindo is a dark brown color and doesn’t use bone char or any filtering process to strip this sugar of its color. This brand uses unrefined sugar and offers a product that is minimally processed.

Zulka Pure Cane Sugar

Zulk Pure Cane Sugar is a tasty bone char-based sugar alternative. This brand ensures that this sweet product is:

  • Non-GMO
  • High-quality 
  • Sustainable 

This sugar has a robust, sweet flavor, without any harmful additives, making it a fantastic choice for vegans looking to swap out bone char sugar in their pantry. The brand emphasizes creating products that are good for the planet and taste delicious.

Safe Alternatives to Sugar

There are many safe alternatives to sugar, including natural and synthetic products. Some synthetic varieties may not be your first choice, but they can help in a pinch and keep you from bone-char-laden sugar products.

Other alternatives to sugar like honey aren’t vegan but may offer a better choice for those with religious or cultural dietary restrictions.


Agave nectar is similar to maple syrup, except that it doesn’t come from a tree. Agave nectar comes from the blue agave plant but has a sweet and tangy taste that’s similar to maple syrup. This syrup can be used in recipes or as toppings on meals. Drinks may also add agave to impose a naturally sweet flavor.

The blue agave plant is also instrumental in producing alcoholic drinks like tequila and mezcal.


Honey isn’t vegan, but it can be a suitable substitute for bone char sugar for those following a gluten-free diet or people with religious dietary restrictions. Bees produce honey using nectar from flowers to create a sticky substance.

Honey is taken from the beehive that bees use to store the substance and can be stored in jars and used on nearly everything. Babies under one year old should never eat honey, as it can cause infant botulism.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a delicious sugar substitute with a robust flavor. It’s vegan as it comes from maple trees. Several different types of maple syrup exist. Each variety has a distinct taste, although all are sweet. Maple syrup and honey have similar nutritional information and vitamins, but maple syrup has slightly more fat.

Maple syrup is iconic as a pancake topping but can also be added to recipes to boost sweetness and enhance flavor.


Stevia is a sweetener made from the stevia plant. Stevia is created by extracting glycosides from stevia plant leaves and filtering them to remove any bitter residue. The result is a sweetener that has zero calories or fat. 

Stevia has been increasingly popular in recent years and is used to market low-calorie foods, drinks, and meals.


Splenda is iconic for having zero calories and being the primary sugar alternative for decades. However, it’s synthetic and made from artificial ingredients and chemicals. Splenda can be a good choice for those suffering from diabetes or other conditions that make natural sugars dangerous.

Splenda has been known to be damaging to the gut microbiome and induce diarrhea and bloating. It can also cause headaches and migraines.

Beet Sugar

Beet sugar is, as you may guess, made from beets. The process of making beet sugar includes slicing sugar beets into thin strips and extracting the natural sugary juice from them. This juice can then be heated and crystalized sugar will form. Beet sugar comes from a natural source and is healthier than refined white sugar.

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is made from the coconut tree by harvesting the sap. When mixed with water and boiled, the sap turns into a syrup and crystallizes to form sugar. This sugar is sweet and natural, making it a perfect alternative to white, refined sugar. 

This process is also less harsh than that of white refined sugar, and coconut sugar doesn’t use bone char in its production, making it ideal for vegans and those with dietary restrictions.


Bone-char-free sugar may be challenging to find, but many brands are dedicated to offering sugar that tastes more natural, doesn’t use bone char, and forgoes harsh refining processes. There are also plenty of alternatives to sugar that can be added to sweets, recipes, and other products to keep them vegan-friendly.


Bone char is a process that uses the bones from cattle in the Middle East and Africa to strip sugar of its natural brown color. Many brown sugar alternatives are still heavily refined and have added molasses for a dark pigment and added sweetness.


Thankfully, there are many choices that you and your household can use to make sure that your diet remains free of bone char sugars. With patience and time, you can find the perfect bone-char-free sugar that can keep you from avoiding your favorite treats.


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Jason Hughes
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