How (not) to dissolve xanthan gum (and other powders) – heureka!
Xanthan gum, guar gum, hyaluronic acid, allantoin…. you name it!
Gums are worse, as they tend to swell, making it even more difficult to dissolve.
The real horror starts when you try to make a transparent gel, where every smallish lump is visible.
But yesterday, I found my inner peace and happiness with xanthan gum 🙂 For the impatient, go to point 4.
For all the others, see how (not) to dissolve xanthan gum…
1. Adding xanthan gum in your water phase in small doses, stirring thoroughly until it completely dissolves – FAIL!
This method works… but, I tell you what – I do not have patience, nor time for that… the small doses are really really small and xanthan gum is very light so if you try to dissolve 1-2%, or even more, it is a fairly large volume to work with.
Moreover, with every dose the gel thickens and xanthan gum dissolves even worse.
Finally, I always give up when around 2/3 of the xanthan gum is dissolved (10 minutes) and just verse the rest into the formulation, hoping crazy stirring will help… it does not…
2. Adding xanthan gum directly to the liquid component of your recipe and use a blender – FAIL
3. Adding slowly water to xanthan gum and stir well – SO, SO…
I started to use this method as an alternative to method 1. It is not bad, but you really need to know how much of water to add. Too little or too much too fast will result in a big lump difficult to dissolve.
And again, you need to stir, stir and stir… which again is not an option when you have surfactants in your formulation.
Recently, I got quite a few questions from you on how to make a LUSH shower jelly. I was inspecting the ingredients and remarked them using glycerin. Then I saw the “how it is made” video and all started to make sense…
Hereby, I present you my most favourite method of how to dissolve xanthan gum:
4. Mix your xanthan gum with glycerin or oil – THE WINNER!
The problem is that xanthan gum (or guar gum or any other thickening gum) starts to swell in contact with water. If you are not fast or cautious enough, lumps create as the particles are being trapped in the gel.
The trick and beauty of this method is that if you dissolve xanthan gum in glycerin or oil, the particles won’t start to swell, but will get dispersed. Then, when you add water phase (preferably warm, around 50°C), only a light stir is sufficient to distribute all xanthan gum (unless you need to stir well to form an emulsion).
If you have oil in your formulation, dissolve xanthan gum it the oil phase. If you do not have oil, use small amount of glycerin.
Can you add more methods? Leave me yours in the comments!