Guar Gum Goodness ….and Pitfalls

guar gum -

If you’re looking to add “slip” to your conditioners, shampoos and detangler mixes, one option you have is Guar gum.

Regular Guar gum is an ingredient which aids in thickening your product as well as adding that magical “slip” we all want so much.  “Slip” is  great for combing and finger detangling.

Guar gum is a non-ionic, white powder not to be confused to “cationic guar gum”(guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride).

When I first started to use Guar gum, I noticed how soft and slippery it felt after adding it to water.

The goodness of Guar gum comes from its ability to thicken just about anything you stick it into…as long as you incorporated it well.  It is recommended to use Guar gum as the end step of the process after you’ve added all your liquid ingredients together.

You can make a super slippery detangling mix by adding Guar to water, tea, Rose water, or a hydrosol.  Guar added at less than 1% (maybe only 0.5%) will thicken up the liquid to create a slippery mix which can easily be put on the hair to allow for better wet-combing or finger detangling.

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Unlike ingredients which just thicken a liquid, Guar gum has a softness to its slip.  It feels super soft as you rub a Guar gum based mix between your fingers.  Adding Guar to a homemade shampoo, for instance, may help to prevent that awful “straw like” feeling because of the softness Guar brings. But BE CAREFUL!  Too much Guar gum can cause flakes in you hair!

Guar gum was actually introduced to me via youtube by ReviveUK when she used it to make a honey/glycerin hair gel.  Although I could never get mine to do right (lol),  I was impressed by the magical ingredient.

Guar gum can act like a mild emulsifier too by preventing the oil from separating from the water.  But you shouldn’t use it instead of a real, stand alone emuslfier. Companies even use Guar Gum to make because it can severely limit ice crystal formation after its frozen.

TIP: Some big wholesaler companies suggest you add Guar gum AFTER you’ve added all your other liquid ingredients to your concoction. It is said to help it to come together better.

Conversely, I’ve also noticed a few pitfalls which should be overcome if you’re to use Guar Gum to its fullest capability.

Regular Guar gum dumped directly into water will immediately start to gel and clump.

If I dump the Guar gum into water all at once, I’ll have little balls of Guar gum in the center, with gel surrounding it. This is what’s called the “fish eyes” problem.

It should be poured or tapped in a little at a time into your concoction while mixing.  Or you should use a high sheer mixer (stick blender) to make sure it’s incorporated.

You can also use the solvent process to incorporate Guar gum into water by adding it to glycerin first.  THEN add that slurry mix into water.

TIP: Some wholesalers recommend you not use Guar Gum in any mix containing Borax

Another problem with Guar gum is that the slippery gel you make with it can flake-up in your hair for a number of reasons:

1. Using too much Guar.  It only takes a VERY SMALL amount to do what it needs to do.  If you use it and your mix isn’t where you want it to be, please let it sit for a few hours to make sure the Guar has fully dissolved. It will get thicker as time goes on.

2. Not mixing well enough.  The Guar has to be hydrated (dissolved into your water/liquid fully.  You have to ensure there aren’t any small “fish eyes” in the mix.

3. Using it without oil/glycerin.  For some reason, oil and the addition of glycerin seems to cut back or stop flake formation tremendously based on my unscientific experimentation. Maybe there is some type of lubrication which is created by the addition of such products which causes the Guar not to flake so badly on hair.

Yes, other less finicky thickeners can be used instead of Guar gum, but the super softness and slip provided by the Guar makes it a good choice for detanglers, shampoos and some conditioners.

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