What is Chewing Gum Made Out Of?


What is Chewing Gum Made Out Of?

Whether it's fruity, minty, or, sugarless people love to chew gum for a thousand years. It has been with us since the Stone Age. The Mayans made gum by scaling Sapodilla trees cutting into their trunks, and turning the white using SAP called "chicle" into a chewy thing. However, through World War Two, chewing gum gained worldwide popularity. After WWII, people learned how to create artificial gum bases to replace chicle using flavored synthetic plastics, waxes, and rubbers that are easier to manufacture. So, is chewing gum plastic?


The ingredients in chewing gum differ from brand-to-brand and country-to-country. But we can say modern-day chewing gums have five main elements: Gum base, sweeteners, softeners, flavorings, and polyol coating. 


Gum Base:

It is made of polymers, plasticizers, and resins. Polymers, including elastomers, are responsible for the stretchy and sticky nature of chewing gum. Resins compose the hydrophobic portion of the gum base, accountable for its chewiness. The gum base can be made of both natural and synthetic materials. However, each brand's gum base's exact ingredients and proportions are trade secrets within the gum industry. Gum base ingredients (both natural and synthetic) approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( 2016) can be listed as followings;

Common natural ingredients are Chicle, Chiquibul, Crown Gum, Massaranduba balata, Massaranduba chocolate, Nispero, Rosidinha, Jelutong, Leche caspi (sorva), Pendare, Perillo, Leche de vaca, Niger gutta, Tunu (tuno), Chilte, Natural rubber.

Typical synthetic ingredients are Butadiene-styrene rubber, Isobutylene-isoprene copolymer (butyl rubber), Paraffin (via the Fischer-Tropsch process), Petroleum wax, Polyethylene, Polyisobutylene, Polyvinyl acetate.



As you have probably guessed, the most popular sweetener is sugar. Sometimes, corn syrup is also a popular option, but artificial sweeteners are similarly used, such as Saccharin sodium, Sorbitol, Mannitol, Xylitol, Aspartame (methyl ester), Acesulfame potassium, Sucralose.




Softeners or vegetable oil are added to chewing gum to retain moisture and increase the gum's flexibility. These ingredients used help to soften the gum when placed into your mouth's warmth and create the unique chewing gum texture. Typical examples are; lecithin, hydrogenated vegetable oils, glycerol ester, lanolin, methyl ester, rice bran wax, stearic acid, sodium, and potassium stearates. 



The chewing gum's flavor component is usually added last and gives a long-lasting, refreshing, and zingy taste to the chewing gum. Taste additives can be natural or synthetic. Peppermint and spearmint are the most popular flavors. Food acids are implemented to provide a sour flavor (i.e., citric, tartaric, malic).


Polyol Coating:

Chewing gum's typical hard outer shell is created due to a water-absorbent powder dusting of polyol to maintain the quality and extend its shelf life. This polyol coating is easily broken down once placed in the mouth due to a mixture of saliva and warm conditions.


In conclusion, "is chewing gum plastic?" For the most part, the answer is yes. Moreover, according to a study from Just One Ocean, chewing gum contributes 100,000 tones to plastic pollution every year! For these reasons (and many others), there are now various alternative gums on the market; they are plant-based and suitable for vegans. 


CONTENT: Seyda Nur Açıkgöz




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