AN INTRODUCTION TO HYDROCOLLOIDS
Understanding hydrocolloids starts by looking at the root words “hydro” meaning water and “colloid” derived from the Greek word “kola” meaning glue-like. Hydrocolloids, oftentimes referred to as gums, are water loving, high molecular weight polymers that are derived from a wide variety of natural sources. Gums can originate from seeds, roots, seaweeds, tree saps, and other sources of naturally occurring materials like wood pulp and cotton linters. In order to effectively use of gums, you must have sufficient water to hydrate them so that their full potential can be achieved.
Long utilized by the food industry for their thickening, emulsification, and film forming properties, gums are multifunctional ingredients prized for their environmentally friendly label. Commonly used gums in agricultural applications include Xanthan gum (derived from bacteria), Guar gum (a seed from the legume family), and CMC (derived from cotton linters or wood pulp). These types of gums are typically used for their ability to thicken solutions or provide suspension of undissolved particles. In addition to changing the viscosity or thickness of a solution, hydrocolloids are capable of affecting surface tension, increasing water-binding capacity, improving film formation, increasing adhesion, and modifying the flow or spread of a solution. Utilizing these special traits allows for the creation of exciting new products that can successfully address spray application issues.