INDIAN aloe (Aloe vera), a common plant that is abundant in rocky areas with little rainfall and is used in cosmetics across the world and also yields a strong laxative, now finds a new use as a bleaching agent in sugar manufacture.
In the conventional method of making sugar or jaggery from sugar cane juice, chemicals such as bleaching powder, baking soda or washing soda are used to bleach the dark-coloured juice and to coagulate the impurities. But these chemicals are harmful, says P Thangamuthu, deputy chief chemist, Sugar Research Institute, Tamil Nadu, who discovered that aloe could be used as a harmless and cheaper bleaching agent in sugar manufacture (Invention, Vol 28, No 8).
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