Xanthan Gum: Uses And Properties Of This Ingredient

This substance is used in many food and cosmetic products. Let’s see its properties.

Xanthan gum

Xanthan gum is an ingredient that has increased its presence in products on the shelves of the food industry.

Although it is not usual that when buying a product we carefully review the labels to read each of the ingredients that compose it, we usually check the flavor and perhaps the nutritional value data, but if we take a look we can verify that the xanthan gum is already present in many products.

But … what is xanthan gum? What are its uses and why has it become popular?

Xanthan gum: its uses and properties

Xanthan gum is a high molecular weight polysaccharide obtained from the fermentation of carbohydrates. Its high solubility capacity and stability in the presence of salts and its resistance to enzymes have made this substance one of the main polymers used in the food industry.

1. Properties of xanthan gum

The molecular structural rigidity of this rubber gives it unusual properties such as heat stability, tolerance in acidic, sour and basic solutions. It presents stable viscosity in wide ranges of temperature and resistance to enzymatic degradation.


It is not soluble in organic solvents. It is easily soluble in high and low temperatures. It must first be completely dissolved in water and then add the chosen solvent under continuous stirring.


Aqueous xanthan gum solutions are highly viscous. This viscosity is not affected by temperature neither in freezing nor in the boiling point, which is why it is chosen by the food industry because the properties of the final products where they are used remain stable regardless of whether they are in refrigeration, in temperature environment or even in hot areas.

Rheological properties

Xanthan or xanthan gum solutions are pseudo-plastic, an important characteristic in the stabilization of suspensions and emulsions. This pseudo-plastic property improves the sensory characteristics of the final product (mouthfeel, flavor release) and guarantees a high degree of mixing, pumped and poured.

All these properties make xanthan gum a highly sought-after ingredient in the food industry as it provides many advantages, and makes it an excellent alternative for celiac people in the preparation of pastries, allowing the bread to become fluffy, enhance the flavor and Allow hot or cold storage.

2. Applications of this ingredient in food

The applications of xanthan gum in the food industry and in the home preparation of foods are many and varied.

This is because, thanks to its nature and its properties, it can add texture, flavor, viscosity and substitute ingredients such as some additives, preservatives or gluten that are harmful to health taken in excess or to which some people are allergic.


Xanthan gum is used mainly in bakery products because it helps them to fluff better by substituting gluten in recipes, but its use is just as effective in other types of food.

Ice creams

It is efficient in the production of ice cream, because it delays the formation of crystals when freezing, resulting in a much creamier product.

Industrialized and packaged flavored drinks

For beverages that include fruit pulp, xanthan gum is used to keep the pieces of fruit suspended, giving it a better appearance.

Due to its ability to keep solid elements in suspension that are not soluble in liquids, xanthan gum is widely used in industrialized beverages, because it is also compatible with the rest of the ingredients.

Low-fat light products

An incredible use of xanthan gum, or xanthan, is that it is applied to low-calorie foods to replace the pleasant sensation that fatty foods produce.

In light coconut milk this gum is added to compensate for the lack of fat, and this causes the sensation when taken to be similar to that of coconut milk with fat.


The gum improves the fluidity and adhesion of the syrups to the fruits, ice cream or pancakes, thereby controlling run-off and penetration.

Pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications

Xanthan gum is used as a thickener in syrups or as a stabilizer in emulsions for the pharmaceutical industry. For cosmetics it is useful due to the stability provided to pH by temperature, salts and acids, as well as to changes in forces such as agitation, which is why it is widely used in make-up removal products, creams and masks.

Recommendations for home uses of Xanthan gum

Side effects are minimal. However, it could cause gas and bloating for people with a high stomach sensitivity. In addition, it does not contain fat or protein; It is composed mainly of dietary fiber, so it can also be useful for athletes or people who want to take care of their figure.

Some recommendations for its homemade use in breads are that the amounts that are added be careful, because if it is used little, the bread can be brittle and hard, and if it is used too much the bread will look shrunken when it is removed from the oven and will continue to reduce its size. still days later.

It is also necessary to take into account what type of liquid flours, flavors and other ingredients are added, since each one alters or enhances the properties of xanthan gum.

Xanthan gum is non-toxic and was approved by the United States FDA as a food additive in 1969 without any restrictions or quantity limits.

Bibliographic references:

  • BarrĂ©re, GC, Barber, CE and Daniels, MJ (1986) Intl. J. Biological Macromolecules, 8 (6): pp. 372-374.

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