What is Xanthan Gum?
Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide (a class of carbohydrates with multiple monosaccharides bonded by glycosidic bonds) taken from the coating of the bacteria strain Xanthomonas campestris. Xanthan gum is produced by introducing the bacteria strain to glucose, sucrose or lactose to undergo a fermentation process. After fermentation, the polysaccharide is derived with isopropyl alcohol, then dried and ground into powder. This fine powder is then added to liquid which then turns into gum.
Xanthan gum is a viscous, colorless substance. It was discovered by Allene Rosalind Jeanes and her team at the US Department of Agriculture after extensive research. It is currently used in many applications, such as in the food and cosmetic industries. In food, it is most commonly used as a thickening agent such as in thick sauces and salad dressings. For people who cannot tolerate gluten, xanthan gum is a good substitute for wheat gluten (the agent that makes bread chewy). For the cosmetics industry, xanthan gum is used as a stabilizer and binding agent, which keeps the different ingredients in cosmetics from separating.