Is Gum Made of Rubber? Here’s what you should know about gum!
I was browsing instagram when I came across this post that claimed gum was made of rubber. I didn't think that sounded right, and I know instagram pages aren't always reliable for getting information. So I decided to find out if gum is made of rubber or not. Here's what I found.
Is gum made of Rubber? Yes, most gums are based on a synthetic material called polyisobutylene, also known as butyl rubber. Butyl rubber is also the material used in the manufacture of tire tubes, such as bicycle tires.
Butyl rubber isn't the only material that makes gum chewy. According to Science Focus, "Polyisobutylene is mixed with plasticisers and materials – all food grade – to make the gum mixture chewable."
Is gum biodegradable?
I've always seen gum on sidewalks, on the street, on garbage cans, so when I was younger, I just assumed gum was biodegradable. However, after finding out that most gums are based on butyl rubber, I know whether or not gum will break down from bacteria & living organisms.
So is gum biodegradable? No, gum is not biodegradable. Gum is not biodegradable because it's based on butyl rubber, a synthetic material that does not biodegrade. However, if the gum is based on a natural material called chicle, it is biodegradable. Only very few companies use chicle as a gum base.
How many years does it take for gum to decompose?
So now we know that most gum is not biodegradable, but how long does it take until it decomposes? According to ExxonMobil Chemical, "Butyl Rubber is a solid and does not degrade in the environment."
As ExxonMobil Chemical's report said, gums made with butyl rubber base will never decompose. However, it will eventually degrade. Based on the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information's (OSTI) report, it takes butyl rubber o-rings about 15 years to degrade.
Based on OSTI's report on the degradation time of butyl rubber, I would think that butyl rubber based gum would begin to degrade in just under 15 years.
If you take anything away from this article please let it be this, if you still want to buy butyl rubber based gum, please don't litter it! It will take a really long time to begin to break down, won't ever biodegrade, and can be mistaken for food by small animals.
If you learned something new from this article, please share it on social media so others can learn something new too!