History of Guar Gum

Guar is a member of the pea family which is cultivated both as fodder and as a green veggie. Over the years, the actual vegetable has gained added significance despite not being part of the staple diet. The reason for this is the emergence of guar gum. Yes, the gum extracted from this plant is being used all over the world in a wide range of industries. This multipurpose substance is in high demand. So, how did guar gum come about?
Initially, guar was used primarily for feeding cattle. The vegetable is a rich source of protein and fodder and cooking were its two main uses. It was in the mid 1940s, just as the Second World War drew to a close, that guar gum came into common use. At that time, the paper and textile industries used gum which was extracted from locust bean. However, the war had diminished reserves of the gum and the industries sought an alternative. Guar gum was suggested as a replacement and it was in 1953 that the technology for extracting it became commercially available in the US as well as India.
This means that it took close to a decade for technology to catch up with the demand. Over the past six decades in a bit, guar gum has grown in popularity and is one of the most widely used substances today. Owing to its wide range of applications, it is used in industries as diverse as food and textile. Even the slightly niche items in the food industry, including baked goods and ice creams, use guar gum as an agent for thickening or enhance the texture.
Despite there being no major breakthroughs in the substance itself, guar gum continues to enjoy tremendous popularity and there is no reason why this demand shouldn’t stay high in the future.

Where Is Guar Gum Produced and How?

For a substance that has only been used widely for six decades, guar gum is extremely popular. After the Second World War, when industries in the West faced a shortfall of locust bean gum, which was at that time used widely in the textile and paper industries, guar gum was introduced as an alternative. The technology to extract guar gum from the guar plant was developed around that time as well and was made available commercially in 1953. Since then, guar gum has been used extensively in the manufacturing and production sector all around the world.

So, you may be curious where this substance is produced and more importantly, how it is produced. The guar bean is grown primarily in the US, India, Australia, and Pakistan, in addition to some parts of Africa. India is the largest producer of guar, with around 3 million tons produced annually, followed by Pakistan at 0.25 million tons. From there, the guar is transported to facilities for converting into guar gum. Again, India is a major producer of guar gum followed by the US. The substance is then shipped around the world, wherever needed, as it is used in a number of industries.

The extraction technique for the gum depends on the purpose for which the guar gum will be used. For instance, the most widely used technique involves several steps, including roasting, polishing, and also sieving. On the other hand, guar gum used in the food industry is manufactured over a number of stages, as it has to be safe for consumption by the end user. All in all, the techniques vary based on the purpose for which the guar gum will eventually be used.

So, you now have a clear idea of how guar gum is produced and from which regions it is shipped around the globe.

How Guar Gum Can Be Used In Food Products

Guar gum is a widely used thickening and lubricating agent used in a number of industrial processes. It is extracted from the guar seed. Guar gum is known to cool off rapidly when mixed in cold water, which enhances thickness and viscosity that can be used in items as diverse as toothpaste and fabric dyes. Not to mention, guar gum is also applied to drill bits to help them cool off quicker on oil and gas rigs. So, you might be wondering how this substance can be used in food products. On the surface, it seems guar gum powder isn’t edible and can actually health problems if ingested. Well, that’s not the case.

The versatility of this polymer is such that it can be used in a range of food products, from pet food to frozen food. Let’s take a look at how it is used in different food products:

Dairy

Guar gum can be added to cheese, yogurt, and mousses, along with other dairy products to enhance their thickness and color retention. Also, guar gum powder will help these products retain their texture even after some period of use.

Frozen

Guar gum can be used to control the loss of moisture in frozen foods as well as to reduce the risk of freezer burn. In addition, it can help manage crystal growth as well as syneresis, ensuring frozen foods stay fresher for longer.

Beverages

Guar gum powder is added to fruit juices, cocoa based drinks, and even alcoholic beverages to enhance their texture and improve the ‘mouth feel’. Guar gum plays a major role in improving the viscosity of fruit juices, in particular.

Confectionery

Guar gum can be used to control the moisture in confectionery items, enhancing their useful life and maintaining their freshness. These include chocolate, breads, jellies and cakes.

These are some ways guar gum is used in food products to enhance their texture and shelf life.

 

The Great Many Applications of Guar Gum

As you might know, guar gum can be used in food products of all kinds. From frozen foods, such as ice creams, to condiments, to even pet food, guar gum is incorporated into the process to enhance the shelf life of food items and make them more palatable. Yet, the uses of guar gum aren’t limited to the food industry. Let’s take a look at the great many applications of guar gum:

Paper Industry

Guar gum is used in the paper industry for the manufacturing of wrapping papers, craft products, and even photographic paper. Using guar gum improves the quality of the finish of paper. Not to mention, papers made using guar gum are stronger and more durable.

Cosmetic Industry

Guar gum can be used in a variety of skin care and cosmetic products, including shampoos, lipsticks, and even shaving cream. Using guar gum improves the lubrication, thickness, and film forming properties of creams and cosmetic products, making them safer and more comfortable to use.

Textile Industry

Guar gum is used in dyes in particular, as it can help thicken the dyes before they are applied to the fabrics. The substance is a part of the process of manufacturing a number of fabric types, including silk, rayon and cotton, as it is integrated into the sizing process. In fact, guar gum can also be used in carpet printing.

Oil & Gas

Guar gum is used as a lubricating and cooling agent in the oil and gas industry. In a field where machinery and parts tend to get extremely hot, guar gum is applied to reduce the risk of rust as well as to cool them off.

In addition to the industries mentioned here, guar gum is also used in pharmaceuticals, mining, and also in the making of toothpastes. To put it simply, it is a widely used substance the applications of which are too many to list in one article.