How to Mix Gum Arabic

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Sap from the acaia tree is used to make gum arabic.
Sap from the acaia tree is used to make gum arabic. (Image: acacia et vautours image by Jj from Fotolia.com)

The Egyptians once used it to mummify their pharaohs, but today, gum arabic is in demand from manufacturers, watercolor artists, printers and cooks. Gum arabic is sap from the acacia tree that dries to form translucent honey-colored "crystals" of resin. It is marketed as a ready-mixed solution, or as a fine powder to mix yourself. Gum arabic is edible and has sticky, emulsifying properties that hold other substances together, making it an essential ingredient in a range of mixtures from medicines, inks and paints, to pastries, syrups and soft drinks.

Things You'll Need

  • Gum arabic powder
  • Water
  • Cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Glycerin
  • Watercolor paints
  • Watercolor palette
  • Watercolor brush
  • Watercolor paper

Food Glue

Measure 2 teaspoons of dry gum arabic into a cup.

Add 12 teaspoons--or 2 fluid ounces--of water.

Mix vigorously, until the gum arabic has combined with the liquid to produce a "gum glue" for food. Use this glue for jobs such as sticking baked goods or pastry items together, or glazing food products such as cereals and snacks. Gum arabic glue can also be added to cake-icing mixes, to give them greater strength and rigidity.

General Purpose Glue

Measure 3 tablespoons of dry gum arabic into a cup. Add 1 tablespoon of glycerin.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of water.

Mix vigorously, until the water has combined with the dry ingredients to make a paste. Add more water, little by little, to dilute the paste to the required consistency. The paste can be used as an all-purpose glue. Spread it thinly on both pieces you wish to stick, then press the two surfaces firmly together, applying pressure until the pieces adhere. Leave the glue to set for 24 hours and then it should be waterproof.

Watercolors

Measure 1 teaspoon of dry gum arabic into a cup. Add 6 teaspoons--or 1 fluid ounce--of water.

Mix the ingredients together vigorously. If necessary, add more water, little by little, until all the dry gum arabic has dissolved.

Mix a shade of watercolor paint with a brush and palette. Dip the brush in the gum arabic solution and transfer a little to the paint on the palette. Try the color you have mixed on watercolor paper. The gum arabic should give the color an extra gloss when it dries, making it appear more vivid and translucent. If the paint appears brittle or cracks on the page, the gum arabic solution should be further diluted--little by little--until the desired effect is achieved.

Tips & Warnings

  • Store leftover gum arabic glue in a sealed, airtight container. Keep the container in a dry, cool place.

References

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