This may or may not be the appropriate scientific discipline to ask this question of, but I'll give it a shot. I'll happily invite chemists to chime in as well.
It's time to tap sugar maples in the North East USA once again. What we essentially pull from the trees via taps is a sugar solution that, using reverse osmosis and evaporation, produces maple syrup. But there's a old tradition that's caused me a bit of concern. When buckets are hung (a dying method of collecting, usually big operations use tubing), sap is collected as the day warms up. At night, and especially on very cold nights, large portions of the sap freeze. I've noticed a lot of older sap producers toss out the ice, sometimes a substantial amount, saying that what is left is more concentrated sugar-water, and the ice is pure water.
But I'm not sure if I believe that. First of all, most sap is a 2% to 6% sugar solution, meaning that, at 2%, you'll need roughly 43 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of syrup. Syrup is defined as > or = 66% sugar (Sucrose). And I've seen sap run through reverse osmosis (which is then about 10% sugar), freezing up after an overnight below zero.
With that bloated introduction, my questions are as follows: Assuming you have 1 liter of pure water, vs 2% sap, vs 10% sap (solution I assume), at what temperatures will each solution start to freeze.
Secondly, when any of these solutions freeze, is it only pure water that is freezing initially? Or is the ice actually a mix of sucrose and pure water? And if it is separating pure water from sucrose, forming a more concentrated solution, at what temperature or time (again, assuming 1 liter and a constant atmospheric pressure) will the more concentrated solution start freezing?
Finally, many pails and the sap have lots of particles in it. This can range from bugs to wood chips to bits of dust, dirt, and corrosion. Although it might seem a separate topic, this may also influence freezing rates and should be taken into consideration when trying to answer this question.
The point is this: We don't want to throw away the valuable sucrose the tree is providing, but we want to be more efficient in removing water from the solution to form syrup. Is tossing out ice that forms in the buckets overnight helping with that efficiency, or are we actually throwing out valuable sucrose that could be made into syrup?