Moisture is cotton candy’s natural enemy. The spun sugar dissolves incredibly quickly under the influence of even a couple drops of water. Why that’s so is clearer when looking at a single fiber. Inside the droplet there’s a gradient in the sugar concentration. The more sugary water sinks, and the sugar fiber dissolves more quickly in the upper part of the droplet, where the less sugary water can more easily take up new sugar.
Once the fiber breaks, capillary forces draw the droplet upward, giving it a fresh section of fiber to dissolve. In a web of fibers, this process can pull droplets apart and together as they quickly eat through the spun sugar. (Image and video credit: S. Dorbolo et al.; submitted by Alexis D.)