What Is Chewing Gum Actually Made From?

Have you ever wondered what chewing gum is actually made from? Well, we have the answer and it's pretty gross.
Credit: Alamy

Have you ever wondered what chewing gum is actually made from? Well, we have the answer and it’s pretty gross.

For many of us, chewing gum is a true guilty pleasure.

There’s just something soothing about masticating on a wad of… well, what is it exactly?

Weirdly enough, most of us just haven’t really considered the question before.

But now, the truth about what chewing gum is actually made from has been revealed – and it’s left the internet feeling disgusted!

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Chewing gum
People are only just learning what chewing gum is made from. Credit: Gabriel Dalton/Unsplash

Dr Saurabh Arora, founder of the Food Safety Helpline, has broken down the major ingredients in chewing gum in the Deccan Chronicle, and it’s safe to say, they’re pretty disgusting. Let’s check them out:

What is chewing gum made from?

The first ingredient that chewing gum may contain is stomach-churning lanolin.

You may have heard of lanolin as an ingredient in cosmetics, but the thick, waxy substance is actually an excretion from sheep’s skin glands.

Dr Arora explains that lanolin ‘is a waxy secretion from the sebaceous glands of the skin of sheep. Its function is to make sheep’s wool waterproof’.


One of the ingredients in chewing gum is lanolin, which comes from sheep’s skin glands. Credit: Pexels/Pixabay

What makes this even grimmer is the fact that manufacturers do not have to list its inclusion on the chewing gum ingredient list, according to The Sun.

Dr Arora reveals that ‘since lanolin is present as a component of chewing gum base (the rubbery substance that imparts the ‘chewable’ characteristic to chewing gum), which is regarded as standardised, manufacturers do not need to reveal its individual ingredients’.

On top of that rather repulsive base, there are some other rather unappealing ingredients in your favourite chewy treat.

The lanolin is usually softened by glycerin or vegetable oil, then artificial sweeteners are added for flavour.

Is chewing gum bad for you?

On top of these rather vile-sounding ingredients, there are some other health issues to consider if you’re a chewing gum addict.

Using your jaw too much can potentially trigger something called a temporal-mandibular disorder, as per the National Institutes of Health.

“The temporomandibular joint is the joint that connects the jaw bone (mandible) with the temporal bone of the skull. Excessive chewing can cause differential contraction of the muscles, particularly if you chew more with one side of the mouth as opposed to the other. This can trigger TMD, which causes chronic pain, tightening and inflammation of the jaw muscles, ear aches, toothaches, as well as migraine-type headaches,” Dr Arora claims.

Gum can also cause issues with your digestive system and tooth decay if you chew too often! However, the majority of these issues are as a result of overuse of chewing gum, as per Healthline.

A little now and then is fine – if you can get over the bizarre ingredients list!

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Written by Annie Walton Doyle

Annie Walton Doyle is a content editor at IGV who specialises in trending, lifestyle and entertainment news. She graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a degree in English Literature. Annie has previously worked with organisations such as The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Harvard University, the Pulitzer Prize and 22 Words.