Blackstrap Molasses Benefits (+ Cooking and Beauty Uses)

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The benefits of molasses
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In many cases, the byproduct of a refining process is bad news. This is the case with petroleum jellyvegetable oils, and many other substances. However, one exception to this rule is blackstrap molasses.

My only childhood memories of this strongly flavored syrup involved making cookies or ornaments once a year, but it turns out that molasses is great for much more than gingerbread cookies.

What is Molasses?

Technically, molasses is the byproduct of the sugarcane refining process. When sugar cane is mashed and boiled, cane syrup is created. A second boiling yields molasses and a third leaves blackstrap molasses.

It is important to note the distinction that the “refining” process refers to just boiling and not any other chemical process which is needed in many types of refining. Refining often removes beneficial parts of a substance, but in this case, the beneficial parts of the plant are retained and some sources would even consider it a superfood, high in Iron, B-vitamins, Magnesium and other nutrients.

Different Types of Molasses

There are several different types to choose from:

  • Light– Produced by the first boiling of the sugar cane (or sugar beet). This type is lighter in color and can be sulphured or un-sulphured. Sulphured Molasses treated with sulphur dioxide acts as a preservative. Typically this type is extracted from young sugar cane, and the preservative is needed. Some people have gene mutations that make them react negatively to sulphur, so this is typically not the best type to use. Un-sulphured is extracted from ripe sugarcane that does not need a preservative. It is also sometimes referred to as “Barbados” or “mild” molasses.
  • Dark– This is the product of the second boiling after more sugar has been extracted. It is less sweet than light molasses and is often used in cooking and baking. This is the type that most people are familiar with as it is often used in gingerbread cookies.
  • Blackstrap– The healthiest form that is produced by the third boiling. It contains the most vitamins and nutrients, but is also the least sweet and does not work well in many recipes. Blackstrap molasses is the highest in Iron, Manganese, Copper, Magnesium, Calcium and other nutrients and is the type I use most often.

Blackstrap Molasses Benefits

Personally, I’ve been making a molasses based switchel recipe that has helped keep my energy levels, digestion, and iron levels great during pregnancy, but there are many additional benefits to blackstrap molasses as well:

Iron Boost

Blackstrap molasses is one of the few great non-animal sources of iron. Many doctors and midwives recommend 1-2 tablespoons a day for those with anemia or related disorders. The high iron content and presence of minerals like magnesium make it helpful for menstrual troubles and pregnant women. There are many accounts of people who used molasses to help remedy anemia and also noticed improved skin and new hair growth from the additional minerals.

TIP: I don’t love the taste by itself, so I mix it into coffee, tea, or switchel to consume it daily. I always monitor my blood sugar during pregnancy (instead of consuming the glucose drink) and molasses does not negatively affect my blood sugar at all.

For Digestion

Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and manganese also make molasses beneficial for digestion. Some people who suffer from constipation notice relief from consuming 1-2 tablespoons in warm water each day. It is also a natural stool softener and is exceptionally beneficial after pregnancy to help return digestion to normal and boost iron levels.

For Hair

Blackstrap molasses contains copper which is important for hair growth. Used internally and externally it may help improve hair growth and some people even report that it helped reverse graying hair and brought back their natural hair color when used regularly.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend pouring it directly on hair, but I like diluting it with equal parts water and pouring on hair as a 20-minute nourishing hair mask. (Note: It will darken hair slightly for a short time!)

Low-Sugar Sweetener

Though blackstrap molasses isn’t exceptionally sweet, it can be a substitute for sugar or syrup in some recipes or can be added to baked goods to boost the nutritional profile. I like using a 50:50 mixture with maple syrup as a sweetener in many of my recipes.

How to Use Blackstrap Molasses

Molasses is naturally not overly sweet, but it has an amazingly rich flavor that can add depth to many dishes. I enjoy using it mixed with another natural sweetener (like honey or maple syrup) in recipes or as a stand alone sweetener, and have also experimented with using it in the following:

  • Marinades: A couple tablespoons of blackstrap is a great addition to a meat marinade and adds a tiny hint of sweetness and a warm flavor.
  • Dressings: In vinaigrettes and dressings, a tablespoon or two adds great flavor.
  • Sauces: A delicious addition to barbecue sauces and other homemade sauces.
  • Smoothies: A tablespoon or more doesn’t usually change the taste of smoothies and is a great way to add nutrients.

Molasses also has a place in natural beauty remedies as it is great for skin and hair. It can be used to make an intensive moisturizing hair conditioning mask or directly on the face as a natural tightening face wash.

Best Kind of Molasses Use

Blackstrap molasses has the highest nutrient content and the lowest amount of natural sugar, so it is the preferred type of molasses to use in many cases. I personally like this un-sulphured organic blackstrap molasses which is naturally sweet and not bitter.

Do you ever use molasses? What is your favorite way to use it?


Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


94 responses to “Blackstrap Molasses Benefits (+ Cooking and Beauty Uses)”

  1. Lindsay Avatar

    Do you have any other recommendations that contain Copper? The Plantation brand that you recommended doesn’t have any in it and I read that copper can help prevent premature graying!

  2. Samantha Avatar

    Thanks for this post! How does molasses compare to honey for a face wash? I use honey daily to cleanse my skin, but am wondering if there are additional or different benefits to using molasses. Should I use both?

  3. Danielle Avatar

    Hi Beverly and Corinne,
    Blackstrap Molasses is the excess left over from cooking sugar cane and separating molasses from the refined sugar. The more times the sugar cane is put through this process, the more refined sugar is created and the denser, and less sweet the molasses gets. Essentially, the sweet parts of the sugar cane are removed as refined sugar leaving behind all of the nutrients of the sugar cane. The amount of blackstrap molasses that is created is a very small percentage of the sugar cane that was put in. Which is why it’s so dense in nutrients and vitamins.

    Hope that was helpful.

  4. S Tursilo Avatar
    S Tursilo

    FYI wanted to mention, yes it does taste great in coffee, gives it amazing depth of flavour without being sickly sweet & without toxic caramel coloring found in do many flavored coffees.

    That being said, coffee is one of the things you MUST avoid if trying to boost your iron levels as it greatly inhibits absorption. Appsrently, it inhibits absorption up to 90% ?This is something I’ve learned with my own severe anemia that’s nearly hospitalized me due to non-existent hemoglobin &
    iron stores (fibroid related).

    But if you’re using blackstrap just as flavoring or an alternative sweetener, not a issue. It’s a far better alternative than sugar of any type. I’d even choose it over honey… although I do love my raw honey!

    Vitamin c increases absorption BTW, so I love having a pink grapefruit drizzled with blackstrap molasses. Best breakfast ever ?

  5. Bob Avatar

    Since too much heat destroys vitamins, how does the boiling of cane sugar affect the vitamin content?

  6. Julie Avatar

    My endocrinologist (hypothyroid and likely Hashimotos) recommended that I take a prenatal vitamin to increase my iron level, as it is low. I am having issues with keeping my bowels moving; as well as bloating, and I suspect both are due to this supplement. Is it possible to get my iron level up to the normal range by eating Blackshear molasses, and discontinuing the prenatal vitamin? Also, do you have a multivitamin that you highly recommend?
    Thanks so much, in advance!!!

  7. Nuzha Bukhari Avatar
    Nuzha Bukhari

    I have the same question. I have not been able to find any blackstrap mo. with copper.

  8. Diana Avatar

    Hello. I am a longtime reader of your wonderful, informative blog. I started taking blackstrap molasses 2 weeks ago, and have seen some great improvement in various symptoms. However, I have concerns about this being a processed food. I only came across one negative website, but I have to admit I am not entirely comfortable with the fact that this substance is processed and not in a natural state. I have not been able to find any literature that explains why other processed foods are not OK, but this one is. I understand its health benefits, and seem to be experiencing them, but surely there are downsides to it because of it being a manufacturing byproduct? Would appreciate if you can direct me to any literature that addresses why this is the one processed food I shouldn’t worry about. Thanks so much!

  9. Maria Avatar

    I love everything you are doing. I often come to your blog for easy and healthy recipes. For blackstrap molasses, what does third boiling mean exactly? that the syrup was boiled three times, so it is more condensed so more nutrient rich? thanks

  10. Jerri-Lynn Avatar

    The article mentions pouring it in coffee, But from what I understand coffee blocks iron absorption so wouldn’t that defeat the purpose? I would rather drink it in my coffee but not if it’s going to defeat the purpose. Thanks.

  11. Alan tate Avatar
    Alan tate

    I ferment mollasses till all sugar is converted to alcohol, makes a great drink mixed with apple juice, ime going to try with other drinkables.

  12. Dion Avatar

    FYI…When I clicked the link for the type of unsulfered organic blackstrap molasses you use, I looked at the label and it contains no copper.

  13. risa Avatar

    Thanks for the helpful article. I’d just like to point out that the calcium, iron, etc. content can vary widely among blackstrap molasses products, so readers may want to compare different products first. For example, the product recommended in this post (Plantation’s Organic Blackstrap Molasses) is high in iron content (20% of the RDA), but lower than many other products in calcium content (8%, vs. 20% in some other products). Increasing my calcium intake is a priority for me, so I’ll be choosing a different product.

  14. Courtney Avatar

    Thank you so much for this info! I purchased the kind u provided the link for, and just received it yesterday and tried it for the first time today! Its not too bad, I tried it on its own and although it made me pucker a bit, I chased it with some water and it was fine! There wasn’t much of an aftertaste at all, at least for me there wasn’t. I’m looking forward to its health benefits! Thanks again for all u do!

  15. Jon Avatar

    As to darkening your hair, you may be wanting it because of the potential for copper in it. I have tried to find out and few if any black strap molasses producers seem to test for copper. None that I contacted did. In theory, it could help darken your hair but most-likely only if there is copper. A way to get this benefit is liquid chlorophyll. The liquid form has a lot of copper compared to the dry supplement.

  16. Jon Avatar

    As to the iron, yes. It has been used in a few select hospitals for the past decade, especially for those who refuse blood transfusions. Being pregnant though, you should run this by a naturopathic physician who specializes in prenatal care. Otherwise…… Take a tablespoon three times a day. You will also need B6, B9 and B12. And to help you absorb the iron, you will need vitamin C. Lastly you will need a protein. A spoon full of organic almond butter or any nut butter (not peanuts though because of the risk of mold toxins).

    How well does this work? We have seen people with Hgb of 2.9 (this is really low) come up to 3.9 in less than 24 hours. In 48 hours, we have seen up to 3 g/dl (this is supported by literature too). This is thought to be the release of shunted blood. Basically though it takes 2 weeks for new blood cells to mature. So, your count may take a week or two before you notice a benefit.

    There is a third component…(again run this by your doctor)….this being properly hydrating your body. Simply drinking water will not hydrate you. Water actually dehydrates you. A pinch of unprocessed salt (either sea or mined salt) will help your body absorb and use the water. Our daily intake should be about half our body weight in ounces of water. If you divide this by 5, surprisingly it comes out to about 10% our body weight each time we drink. For ever 16 ounces of water we drink, we need about 1/8th tsp of salt on our tongue. For some reason, this last part…on the tongue gets ignored or misunderstood. If you put the salt anywhere but on your tongue, you may get sick. Only put it on the tongue. This is called the Water Cures Protocol. This one thing will help the molasses to work even better.

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