What is chewing gum made of?

Candy Image GalleryGum bases are mixed with sugar and other flavorings to make chewing gum. See more pictures of candy.
David De Lossy/Getty Images

Up until WWII, chewing gum was made of a substance called chicle mixed with flavorings. Chicle is a latex sap that comes from the sapodilla tree (native to Central America). In other words, chicle is a form of rubber. Just like rubber bands don't dissolve when you chew them, neither does chicle. Chicle is a good bit softer than rubber bands and happens to soften more when it gets warm in your mouth. If you freeze chicle with ice, it gets very stiff -- chicle hardens and softens over a pretty narrow temperature range.

After WWII, chemists learned how to make artificial gum bases to replace chicle. These gum bases are essentially synthetic rubbers that have the same temperature profile as chicle.

Advertisement

Gum bases (either natural or artificial) are mixed with sugar and other flavorings to make chewing gum. When you chew it, the rubber releases these flavorings into your mouth. ­

Originally Published: Apr 1, 2000

Chewing Gum FAQ

What will happen if you swallow chewing gum?
Your body doesn't digest chewing gum, but that doesn't mean it's dangerous to swallow. Mayo Clinic says it will move through your digestive system and exit in your stool.
What chewing gum do dentists recommend?
Look for chewing gum with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. It's given to products that meet the conditions for safe and sugar-free chewing gum.
Are there any benefits to chewing gum?
According to the ADA, the act of chewing gum increases salivary flow in the mouth. When chewed after eating, this can help neutralize and wash away acids from food.
Is it safe to chew gum everyday?
Yes, but look for gum approved by the ADA. This will ensure you're not consuming harmful ingredients that can impact your health.
What is chewing gum made of?
Gum bases (either natural or artificial) are mixed with sugar and other flavorings to make chewing gum.

Advertisement

Loading...