If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can still make candy from sugar syrups by using the cold-water method. During the cooking stage, remove your pan from the heat and drop a small spoonful of sugar syrup into a bowl of very cold water. Immerse your hand in the cold water, try to form the sugar into a ball, and bring it out of the water. By examining the shape and texture of the resulting candy blob, you can determine the approximate temperature of your sugar. This method takes a little practice, and is not as exact as a candy thermometer, but it will do in a pinch! For an easily printable guide to candy temperature, check out the Candy Temperature Chart
The earliest candy temperature stage is Thread Stage. At this temperature, the syrup drips from a spoon and forms thin threads in cold water.