Kitchen Essentials: Sugar, Salt, and Pepper

Bell Chem understands that our consumers require common kitchen condiments such as sugar, salt, and pepper. As a food and reagent product supplier, we stock the purest forms of these essentials and would like to share information on the chemical background of each, along with a few interesting facts.

What we commonly refer to as “sugar” is more appropriately named sucrose (CH2OH)2, a disaccharide formed from two simple sugars, glucose and fructose. We interpret its taste as sweet because of its chemical structure: the –OH groups engage with taste receptors on the tongue, and the greater the number of activated receptors, the sweeter the taste. There are varying other types of sugar including glucose, fructose, and lactose, but table sugar (sucrose) is widely used because of its availability in sugarcane as well as many fruits and vegetables. Sugar is considered an energy-rich carbohydrate, although a much smaller portion of one, considering carbohydrates are typically large molecules.

Have you ever said, “Please pass the sodium chloride?” Neither have we, but that’s because it’s commonly known as just salt, which is a combination of two volatile, toxic ions. These chemicals bond tightly together and join with millions of other NaCl molecules to form a polished, crystalline cube of salt. Table salt is generally 97 percent to 99 percent pure with a few additives, like iodine, and it breaks down into strong negative and positive ions that interact with the body’s chemicals to change the cell's’ chemical makeup. The need for salt is so great that our tongues have specific receptors designed to identify it.

Pepper is the number one selling spice in America and consists of several chemical compounds including, but not limited to, Acetophenone, Nerol, Citral, and Piperonyl. Black pepper, the most commonly used form, grows on a perennial flowering vine and comes from the dried fruit peppercorn. Its distinctive taste is a result of the chemical piperine found in the white center of the peppercorn. Black pepper has a high caffeine content, as well as vitamins A and C. It’s been used in cooking for over 2,000 years and has been incredibly popular throughout history. During the Middle Ages, peppercorns were worth more than silver in weight, Romans used to demand pepper for ransom when besieging a city, and pepper was even placed in tombs to accompany pharaohs over 2,500 B.C.


Bell Chem is a food and reagent product supplier based in Longwood, FL (just north of Orlando) with hundreds of products stocked in their 50,000+ square-foot warehouse. You can expect the highest quality products, expedited shipping options for maximum efficiency, and unrivaled personalized customer service. Let our knowledgeable and friendly customer service representatives and accounting staff handle all your needs by calling 407-339-BELL (2355) or send us an online message.