Abstract Pyrolysis of two representative solid humin samples using pyrolysis GC–MS (300–600°C, 10s, He atmosphere) and micro-pyrolysis (500°C, 12s, N2 atmosphere) are reported. The humins were obtained by treatment of aqueous solutions of d-glucose and d-fructose at 180°C in the presence of sulphuric acid (0.1M) and isolated as brown solids in 20–30% yield. The products were characterised with various techniques (SEM, elemental analysis, solid state CP-NMR, FTIR). Pyrolysis GC–MS showed the presence of furanics and organic acids, though the individual components were present in minor amounts (<1wt%). Micro-pyrolysis yielded 30wt% gaseous and liquid products, the remainder being a solid char. Gas–liquid yields are lower than obtained for a typical lignin sample (kraft lignin) under similar conditions.