Cotton candy has graced events since the 15th century, when Italians would ingest the spun sugar just like people across the globe do today. But cotton candy was only for the elite as the process to make it was intensive and costly. Two American entrepreneurs devised a machine that led to the sweet, colorful candy becoming a staple of fairs, sporting events and circuses around the world. Cotton candy involves a few simple ingredients, making creating cotton candy inexpensive. Whether you are looking to start a business or just want to make homemade cotton candy, calculating the costs is simple.

Determine why you will be making cotton candy. The most expensive purchase for making cotton candy is the equipment. Some machines are designed for the home while others are commercial grade. A residential machine can cost less than $100 while a commercial machine can cost near $2,000.

Figure the costs for ingredients. Cotton candy has three ingredients: sugar, food coloring and flavoring. While these ingredients can be purchased separately, and mixed yourself, most suppliers sell pre-mixed concoctions. These range from traditional cherry to outlandish orange. One pound of cotton candy sugar will yield approximately 32 to 40 servings. Extrapolate out how much sugar will meet your needs. As with most food products buying in bulk is less expensive.

Figure the cost for paper cones, and other accessories you will need. Those starting a cotton candy business might consider purchasing a display tray or tree, cotton candy bags and machine accessories. Paper cones are very inexpensive when purchased in bulk--about 2 cents per paper cone. For those making cotton candy at home you can improvise by using old paper towel rolls or wooden spoons.

Add in additional cost for permits if you are starting a cotton-candy business. Most states require a vendor permit to sell food. But cotton-candy vendors have an easier time getting permits than those selling cooked food.

Add all the costs together to get a grand total of what it would cost to make cotton candy. For businesses, you will want to figure the manufacture cost of each cotton candy. This will help you determine your sale price, and how much profit you can expect. For example, if it cost 10 cents for the sugar, 2 cents for the paper cone and 3 cents for a plastic covering, the total to produce each cone is 15 cents.