Using Natural Gums to Thicken Soap and Natural Cosmetic Products
Posted on June 19 2012
Most natural gums are Carbohydrates and they help to improve the stability
of your products. Some sources for these gums include plant seeds, marine algae and sap.
Acacia Gum also known as Gum Arabic is one of the most ancient of the gums.
It comes from the sap of the Gum Arabic Tree and
is an edible gum used to make gummy candies and edible glitter
along with many other edible products.
In skin care it is useful as a soothing ingredient and helps alleviate inflammations.
Tragacanth also comes from a sap. This is a water soluble gum that can be used to form a thick gel.
The maximum viscosity (thickness) will happen after 24 hours of sitting at room temperature after
the gum is mixed with water. This is one of the most stable and thickest natural gums available.
Guar Gum, another popular natural gum, can form a thick mucus when mixed with water.
It’s a great thickener and comes from the Indian Cluster bean.
The most useful gum in cosmetics and liquid soap is Xanthan gum. It can be used to stabilize water and
oil mixtures, it keeps particles suspended, and it has high viscosity (thick). It is a great gum to use to
thicken shampoos; natural liquid soap and body wash because it also helps with the foaming action.
If you are looking at becoming a certified organic cosmetic formulator, it is important for you to know
that Xanthan gum is the only natural gum that is allowed in registered organic products
if you are registered with the USDA for Organic products.
So now that you know a little about these gums, how do you formulate with them?
The first thing to be aware of is what the formulating industry calls “Gel Block”.
Gel block is that effect you get when you put a powder into water.
You might notice this if you put cocoa in water or flour in water.
It forms this type of barrier around the powder and doesn’t immediately melt into the water.
It basically floats on top.
If you start to stir it, some might blend into the water, but generally you get a lumpy mixture
that is pretty challenging to mix completely.
In order to prevent Gel block when using natural gums, we can do 2 things.
- Mix it like crazy with a high speed blender to cut into the lumps and get a good mix.
- Premix the gum with a wetting ingredient. I use vegetable glycerin.
You always want to mix the gums into cold water. This is because once heat is added,
the thickening begins.
If you are not ready at that stage for the thickening process, then your formula will probably be ruined.
Since we probably already know how to mix the gums at high speed in a blender,
let’s move on to the second option.
Wetting your gum.
Start by measuring out you gum. Either by weight (scale) or volume (measuring spoon).
Add a small amount of vegetable glycerin to the gum. Mix the 2 together until the gum is no longer dry.
You might need to add more glycerin. You want to get the gum to a thick but runny consistency,
so the gum is no longer a solid. A thick honey or molasses is a good goal for the consistency.
Once you reach this consistency, the gum can be poured into the cold water little by little.
Blending well between adding more of the liquid gum.
Your gum is now able to be used as a thickener since you have broken down the barrier
between the gum and the water.
Enjoy exploring this wonderful natural thickener. There are so many different applications for it.
This is just another natural ingredient you can use instead of the chemical thickeners that are
so abundant in most beauty products.
I will be doing a Soap Making School video soon on how to use these gums in your very own formulations.
This will include the amount of gum to the amount of water needed (every gum is different).
You can join Soap Making School today!