What is Chewing Gum made of?
Chewing gum has been on sale for over 170 years, yet most people still don’t know what’s in it. Chewing gum companies carefully guard their recipes meaning the ingredients on a regular pack of gum can leave those amongst us who aren’t food scientists saying ‘huh’, so here’s a breakdown of what’s in the regular gum you chew today.
- ‘Gum base’
Gum base is what makes chewing gum, gum – it gives chewing gum it’s structure, texture and chew. Lots of other ingredients are added to the gum base to keep it fresh and give it flavour. Gum base was originally derived from natural ingredients, but in the Sixties, gum companies settled for a cheaper, plastic rubber alternative.
What is synthetic ‘gum base’ made of?
The most common plastic rubbers used for gum base are butadiene-styrene, polyethylene, and polyvinyl acetate, the same rubbers used to make car tyres, hose pipes, electrical wires and loads of other domestic products. Synthetic plastic rubber is used as it’s cheap, versatile and it has long-range elasticity.
Chewing gum is available artificially sweetened or sugar-free. Artificially sweetened gum has been around since the creation of Aspartame in 1965, which is 200 times sweeter than table sugar. Aspartame has received criticism from experts who’ve found it poses a number of health risks, including long-term health issues if consumed excessively.
Peppermint, Spearmint and Menthol are the most popular gum flavours. These flavours can come from a few different sources, but most gum companies keep their flavouring sources secret.
- Softeners / Plasticisers
Softeners are added to gum to help it retain moisture and stay chewy. The most popular softeners are glycerol or vegetable oil based. Glycerol, which can also be synthetically made, is colourless and odourless and when used in food can be sweet in flavour.
Chewing gum can be coated with either sugar or sugar-free coating to give it its sweet crunchy case. Sugar-free coating is usually made of maltitol and sorbitol syrups
Coating can sometimes contain sugar-free additives like moisture absorbing and anti-adherent compounds, dispersing and film forming agents and binders to stick the coating to the gum.
A Healthier Gum Option
Regular chewing gum is made of a plastic, rubbery base and can be sweetened, softened and coated using synthetic ingredients, Nopla is all natural so you’ll know where every ingredient in the gum you chew comes from.
Plastic-free. We’ve turned back the clock and are using sustainably sourced chicle for our chewing gum base. Our gum base is fully biodegradable so won’t contribute to the tonnes of gum littering the streets.
Chicle based chewing gum started selling in 1848, the industry boomed worldwide during WWII and by the Sixties gum companies had switched to the cheaper synthetic rubber they use today.
Chicle is a type of tree-sap found in the Mexican rainforest. As well as the obvious benefits of the lack of plastic rubber, a chicle base is also great at holding natural flavourings and Xylitol which will freshen breath and keep teeth clean. It’s sourced sustainability by local farmers, also known as Chicleros, meaning the farming practices of chicle helps the rainforest continue to thrive. To release the chicle from the Sapodilla tree farmers will score the bark and allow the sap to trickle out for collection. Once the chicle has been released, farmers will mark the tree with a symbol to make sure the chicle isn’t over-collected from one tree.
Sugar-free and sweetened using 100% Xylitol. Xylitol is a healthy, low-calorie, plant-based sweetener found in birch and beech trees, first discovered in Finland in the early 20th century. Xylitol is great for teeth as it kills 90% of bacteria, reduces plaque and naturalises acids, it also has a low GI of 7 so is suitable for people suffering with diabetes.
Natural flavouring. Our natural Peppermint, Spearmint and Eucalyptus flavours, are made from heating plant leaves or using enzymes to extract flavour compounds from plant ingredients.
Natural Softener. The smooth moist texture in Nopla is created with Sunflower Lecithin by dehydrating a sunflower and separating it into three parts: oil, gum, and solids. The Lecithin comes from the gum and is processed through a cold press.
Natural coating. Carnauba Wax coats our gum, it’s made from the leaves of the carnauba tree, it’s also known as Brazil Wax as its native to Brazil. The leaves are dried and beaten to loosen the wax. Gum Arabic from the Australian acacia tree is the natural binder used to stick the wax to the gum base.
Gum ingredients quick answers.
Short on time? Let’s get down to the facts, here are some of your most asked questions, answered:
Is chewing gum made of plastic? Yes, regular chewing gum is made from a plastic, rubbery base but Nopla is 100% plastic free.
Is chewing gum made of whale fat? No, chewing gum does not contain whale fat.
Does chewing gum contain animal products? No, chewing gum does not typically contain any animal products.
Is chewing gum vegan? Yes, chewing gum is vegan.
Is chewing gum halal? Most chewing gum is halal, but it is worth checking with the manufacturer if you cannot see a halal certification on the product.