Search billions of records on

The Boiling House

Once the juice arrived in the boiling house, it was contained in clarifying vats and lime was added. It was then boiled in cast iron "coppers" of diminishing size. {These are located on the left side of the illustration}.

The furiously hot liquid would be skimmed and ladled into the next smaller "tache" until it reached just the right consistency and was diverted to a wooden trough leading to wooden flats where it was allowed to cool.

The slaves who mastered the boiling stage of the refining process were some of the most highly valued workers on a plantation, and could have a major effect on the profits earned. Good "Strikers" or Boilers were often given special incentives to assure their complete cooperation{See Working Conditions}.

The sugar in the flats would have to be agitated for a few hours before being packed into wooden hogsheads with perforations at the bottom or Conical clay pots. The skimmings from the process were channeled to the distillery fermentation tank. Potted sugar was placed in racks so molasses would drain from the narrow bottoms thus lightening the sugar. Sugar refined to this stage was called "Muscovado".

Most english planters of the west indies did not process their sugar much farther than this and in fact english colonial policy discouraged it. The French however practiced what was called "double claying" which involved the sealing of the cooling pots with a moist limed clay which encouraged the separation of molasses from the crystals. When the first potting no longer produced molasses, they would repot the sugar a second time (double-claying) and seal it once again with the lime clay. The owners of Betty's Hope and certain other english planters did employ double claying at their plantations.

Continue the Plantation Tour