chewing gum

quimica das coisas

 

 

It's in everyone's mouth and it comes in all sorts of colours and flavours! Today, in the chemistry of things, we talk about chewing gum.

The habit of chewing tree resins is very old and crossed civilizations. But the commercial version of gum didn't reach the U.S. market until the mid-19th Century.

In fact, the muscular action of chewing helps concentration, relieves tension and relaxes the muscles. It was for these and other reasons that the U.S. military supplied chewing gum to its soldiers since the First World War, contributing for it to become increasingly popular.

With the increase in consumption and the consequent mass production manufacturers had to seek new products that replace natural resins and started using "gum base" synthesized from petroleum. And what exactly is the composition of" gum base"?

Well, this is a well-kept secret by manufacturers, who acquired the right not to mention the detailed composition of their products on the label. If we look at the ingredient list of any pack of gum we find sweeteners, flavouring, colouring and "gum base". Just like that, with no further details!

However, we know that fans of chewing gum typically chew on mixtures of elastomers, polymers, resins and paraffin, in different combinations. The most common mixture includes synthetic polymers, like styrene-butadiene rubber or polyethylene, with a bit of natural latex.

But the investigation doesn't stop and chewing gum manufacturers continue to try to improve their products. Actually, large companies maintain laboratories, only to find recipes that are more pleasant to chew, have a better texture and release flavour for longer.

Oh, and also that are easier to remove from clothing, hair and the floor!

Chewing gum is no longer just a type of candy or a fun way to release sugar and our favourite flavours in our mouth. No, now it's also a transport system for other chemical substances.

There are chewing gums to help you quit smoking, chewing gums impregnated with amorphous calcium phosphate to help maintain healthy teeth, chewing gums with caffeine and chewing gums with vitamins.

And who knows if, in a not too distant future, chewing gum can be used as a way of applying medicinal drugs?

It's chemistry stretching the applications of gum.

 

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