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Guar Gum is derived from the ground endosperm of guar beans. The Guar plant, Cyanmopsis tetragonoloba, is mainly grown in India, but also Pakistan, the US, Australia and Africa. The gum is obtained after the beans are de-husked, milled and sieved.
Guar gum is sold as an off-white powder and forms a gel when dissolved in water (hydrocolloid) and mixed with borax or calcium. It is an effective thickener as only a small quantity (1% concentration) is required to form a viscous solution, although its viscosity reduces at lower temperatures or when vigorously shaken. Food grade Guar powder is available in high and medium visocity grades. Guar gum also acts as a stabiliser (it prevents solid particles in a liquid from settling) and an emulsifier (it prevents oil droplets from coalescing). It remains stable in solution over a pH range of 5-7. Guar gum may have synergistic effects with Xanthan gum, Locust Bean gum and Sodium Alginate.
Guar gum functions as an emulsion stabiliser, a thickener in liquids, and a binding agent. In baking, Guar gum improves dough volume, texture and shelf life, whilst preventing moisture in pastry fillings from making the pastry soggy. It is often used in gluten free flour to help the dough rise. In dairy products, Guar gum thickens milk, yogurt and cottage cheese, and helps maintain the texture and homogeneity of ice creams and other frozen desserts, whilst retarding the growth of ice crystals. Guar gum improves the appearance and stability of condiments such as ketchups and barbecue sauces, as well as relishes, salad dressings and pastes. In is used as a thickener and stabiliser in canned soup and fish in sauces, as well as in dry soups and instant oatmeal. Guar gum acts as a binder in meat. It is also a good source of dietary fibre (80% on a dry weight basis) and an additive in animal food, including pet food.
Guar gum is used as binder or disintegrator in tablets. It is also a key ingredient in some bulk-forming laxatives, helping to relieve constipation and some digestion ailments. It is difficult for humans to digest, so acts as a filler and can slow the digestion of a meal (e.g. the rate of absorption of sugars by diabetics). Guar gum may also increase basal metabolic rate (thermogenic).
Guar gum is used in textile printing, sizing and finishing.
In the Paper industry, Guar gum is used to provide a denser surface for printing and to improve sheet formation and folding.
In the Oil & Gas and Mining industries, Guar gum is used in the Hydraulic Fracturing Process (also known as “fracking”) to propel fluids containing sand into oil and gas reservoirs at high pressure. It helps to open up cracks in the rock and then suspend the proppant in order to keep the cracks open so the hydrocarbons can be recovered.
The Explosives industry uses Guar gum as a waterproofing agent.
In the Personal Care industry, Guar gum is used as a conditioner in shampoos and a thickener in toothpastes and lipstick.