Gelling agent

Gelling agent

Gelling agents are materials used to thicken and stabilize liquid solutions, emulsions, and suspensions. They dissolve in the liquid phase as a colloid mixture that forms an internal structure giving the resulting gel an appearance of a solid matter, while being mostly composed of a liquid. Gelling agents are very similar to thickeners.

Food additives

Gelling agents are food additives used to thicken and stabilize various foods, like jellies, desserts and candies. The agents provide the foods with texture through formation of a gel. Some stabilizers and thickening agents are gelling agents. See also gel.

Typical gelling agents include natural gums, starches, pectins, agar-agar and gelatin. Often they are based on polysaccharides or proteins.

Examples are:
* Alginic acid (E400), sodium alginate (E401), potassium alginate (E402), ammonium alginate (E403), calcium alginate (E404) - polysaccharides from brown algae
* Agar (E406, a polysaccharide obtained from red seaweeds)
* Carrageenan (E407, a polysaccharide obtained from red seaweeds)
* Locust bean gum (E410, a natural gum from the seeds of the Carob tree)
* Pectin (E440, a polysaccharide obtained from apple or citrus-fruit)
* Gelatin (E441, made by partial hydrolysis of animal collagen)


In petrochemistry, gelling agents, also called solidifiers, are chemicals capable of reacting with oil spills and forming rubber-like solids. The gelled coagulated oil then can be removed from the water surface by skimming, suction devices, or nets. Calm or only moderately rough sea is required.

Explosives and incendiaries

Various materials are used to convert liquid explosives to a gel form. Nitrocellulose and other nitro esters are often used. Other possibilities include nitrated guar gum [] .

Gelling agents are also used for making materials for incendiary devices. Examples are aluminium soaps, hydroxyl aluminium bis(2-ethylhexanoate), or polystyrene with gasoline for napalm, or polyisobutylene for thickening triethylaluminium, resulting in thickened pyrophoric agent (TPA).

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