ACS: The Secret Science of Stuff - The Secret Science of GUM

What is gum made of today?          

Gum base gives gum that bounce-back texture that makes it fun to chew. Each company keeps their special recipe for gum base a secret, but there is something we can tell you… All gum bases are made of three kinds of ingredients which give gum its special properties:

  • Resin –  the main part you chew
  • Wax – softens the gum
  • Elastomer – adds flexibility

Gum base often contains polyethylene (pah-lee-eth-leen), a long molecule that’s also used to make plastic bottles and plastic bags.


How do scientists make gum taste good?

Companies that manufacture gum have chemists working in laboratories to make gum better. One idea is to trap the sweetener and flavoring in the gum so that the flavor gets released more slowly. This makes the great taste last longer!

Where does the flavor go?

As you chew, the sweetener and flavoring dissolve in your saliva and spreads over your tongue. Yum! Eventually most of the sweetener and flavoring slide down your throat with your saliva and the great taste becomes a memory. Gum base does not dissolve in saliva. This is why you lose the flavor, but not the gum.

Science Topics
Chemistry, Food Science, Polymers
Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade
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