Acacia Senegal Gum

Acacia Senegal Gum

Acacia Senegal Gum uses in natural skin care products

Wild Acacia (aka, Acacia Senegal Gum) when used in a facial cosmetic, it’s as an adhesive, though it’s also used for its emollient and occlusive properties–it helps “lock in” moisture.

According to most cosmetic companies, wild acacia is clinically proven to decrease wrinkle depth and appearance.

Gum arabic, also known as acacia gum, chaar gund, char goond, or meska, is a natural gum made of hardened sap taken from two species of the acacia tree; Senegalia (Acacia) senegal and Vachellia (Acacia) seyal. The gum is harvested commercially from wild trees throughout the Sahel from Senegal to Somalia, although it has been historically cultivated in Arabia and West Asia.

Gum arabic is a complex mixture of glycoprotein’s and polysaccharides. It was historically the source of the sugars arabinose and ribose, both of which were first discovered and isolated from it, and are named after it.

Gum arabic is used primarily in the food industry as a stabilizer. It is edible and has E number E414. Gum arabic is a key ingredient in traditional lithography and is used in printing, paint production, glue, cosmetics and various industrial applications, including viscosity control in inks and in textile industries, although less expensive materials compete with it for many of these roles.

While gum arabic is now produced mostly throughout the African Sahel, it is still harvested and used in the Middle East. For example, Arab populations use the natural gum to make a chilled, sweetened, and flavored gelato-like dessert.

Uses

Gum arabic’s mixture of polysaccharides and glycoprotein’s gives it the properties of a glue and binder which is edible by humans. Other substances have replaced it in situations where their toxicity is not an issue, as the proportions of the various chemicals in gum arabic vary widely and make it unpredictable. Still, it remains an important ingredient in soft drink syrups, “hard” gummy candies such as gumdrops, marshmallows, M&M’s chocolate candies, and edible glitter, a very popular, modern cake-decorating staple. Pharmaceutical drugs and cosmetics also use the gum as a binder, emulsifying agent and a suspending or viscosity increasing agent. For artists, it is the traditional binder used in watercolor paint, in photography for gum printing, and it is used as a binder in pyrotechnic compositions. Gum arabic has been used in the past as a wine fining agent.

It is an important ingredient in shoe polish, and can be used in making homemade incense cones. It is also used as a lick able adhesive, for example on postage stamps, envelopes, and cigarette papers. Lithographic printers employ it to keep the non-image areas of the plate receptive to water. This treatment also helps to stop oxidation of aluminum printing plates in the interval between processing of the plate and its use on a printing press.

Food

Also called acacia after the original source, gum arabic is used as an emulsifier and a thickening agent in icing, fillings, chewing gum and other confectionery treats.

Painting and art

Gum arabic is used as a binder for watercolor painting because it dissolves easily in water. Pigment of any color is suspended within the acacia gum in varying amounts, resulting in watercolor paint. Water acts as a vehicle or a dilutent to thin the watercolor paint and helps to transfer the paint to a surface such as paper. When all moisture evaporates, the acacia gum binds the pigment to the paper surface. After the water evaporates, the acacia gum in the paint film increases luminosity and helps prevent the colors from lightening. Gum arabic allows more precise control over washes, because it prevents them from flowing or bleeding beyond the brush stroke. In addition, acacia gum slows evaporation of water, giving slightly longer working time.

Photography

The historical photography process of gum bichromate photography uses gum arabic mixed with ammonium or potassium dichromate and pigment to create a colored photographic emulsion that becomes relatively insoluble in water upon exposure to ultraviolet light. In the final print, the acacia gum permanently binds the pigments onto the paper.

Printmaking

Gum arabic is also used to protect and etch an image in lithographic processes, both from traditional stones and aluminum plates. In lithography, gum by itself may be used to etch very light tones, such as those made with a number five crayon. Phosphoric, nitric or tannic acid is added in varying concentrations to the acacia gum to etch the darker tones up to dark blacks. The etching process creates a gum adsorb layer within the matrix which attracts water, ensuring that the oil based ink will not stick to those areas. Gum is also essential to what is sometimes called paper lithography, printing from an image created by a laser printer or photocopier.

Pyrotechnics

Gum arabic is also used as a water-soluble binder in fireworks composition.

Effect on surface tension in liquids

Acacia gum reduces the surface tension of liquids, which leads to increased fizzing in carbonated beverages. This can be exploited in what is known as a Diet Coke and Mentos eruption.

Acacia Senegal Gum
Typically, when Acacia Senegal Gum is used in a facial cosmetic, it’s as an adhesive, though it’s also used for its emollient and occlusive properties– wild acacia is clinically proven to decrease wrinkle depth and appearance.