Techniques for using a cotton candy maker can very depending on machine, though all machines operate similarly by heating sugar and spinning it to make it string and cling like cotton. There are many small machines that can be purchased from any department store, and larger machines can be rented for parties.

Cotton candy can be made at home or with the larger machines seen at fairs and carnivals. Most of the consumer models use sugar or hard candy.

To make cotton candy with a consumer machine, turn the machine on and let it warm completely by running it for 5 minutes. Turn off the machine and place hard candy in the center spinner, and immediately turn the machine back on. After it spins for a minute, strings appear on the sides. Pick these up with a paper cone and turn them repeatedly to form a ball at top of the cone. Holding the cone about 4 to 6 inches from the center spinner after the first strands are on the cone helps to make an even ball of cotton candy.

The larger machines are used in much the same way, but on a more mass produced scale. Both types of machines get very hot and should never be used without adult supervision.