The Dirty Truth About Chewing Gum
The Dirty Truth About Chewing Gum

Did you know, chewing gum (the product, not the concept) is laced with micro-plastics. This is because the main ingredient in chewing gum is literally synthetic plastic in nearly all cases, with two ingredients, in particular, seeming to dominate: polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate - two components of a typical plastic shopping bag. On the wrapper/box this plastic ingredient is euphemistically written as "gum base". 99.5% of the chewing gums on the market contain plastic as the main ingredient to give it a uniform, "chewable" consistency. On top of this, artificial solvents called plasticisers are added into the mix, so as to make sure the gum base remains flexible and chewable, rather than tough and brittle. This is also true of nearly all chewing gums that promote themselves as more natural, those using xylitol instead of synthetic sweeteners, and/or those using natural plant derived flavours or essential oils; the base remains the plastic same.

Traditionally, chewing gum was made, or rather, utilised, from the resin of trees, like spruce, mastic gum or frankincense resin. Humans have been chewing these natural tree gums/resins for thousands of years for oral health, mental alertness and enjoyment reasons. Perhaps most famously of all, chicle, the white resin of the Sapota/Sapodilla/Chikoo fruit tree (pictured below), the sought after nature-given chewing gum of the Aztecs and Mayans, was the original gum base for many chewing gum companies.

However, this changed in the 1940s and 50s when chicle was swapped out for cheap synthetic rubber instead. This is how the chewing gum market has looked ever since, save for a small handful of producers, who have gone back to chewing gum roots, and opted to only use the traditional chicle as their gum base.

For proponents of chewing gum (and indeed, there are many good reasons from an oral health perspective, when the right quality of gum is used), I recommend you support a natural, completely plastic-free company using chicle (or some other more esoteric resin) or else, go more primal still and chew with wild Frankincense resin, like this high-quality one I chew on here, or wild mastic gum, spruce or birch resin/tar, to name just a few. Should you want to flavour the resin further, try a single drop of either peppermint, spearmint, lemon, lime or ginger essential oil on a small piece of chewing resin, before popping it in your mouth. You will receive all the beneficial features of the resin, whilst sneakily avoiding all of those micro-plastics as well.

Kyle Author