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How to mix gum arabic

The Egyptians once used it to mummify their pharaohs, but today, gum Arabic is in demand from manufacturers, watercolour artists, printers and cooks. Gum Arabic is sap from the acacia tree that dries to form translucent honey-coloured "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.

Measure 2 tsp of dry gum Arabic into a cup.

Add 12 tsp -- or 2 fl. oz. -- 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.

Measure 3 tbsp of dry gum Arabic into a cup. Add 1 tbsp of glycerine.

Add 1/2 tsp 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.

Measure 1 tsp of dry gum Arabic into a cup. Add 6 tsp -- or 1 fl. oz. -- 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 watercolour 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 colour you have mixed on watercolour paper. The gum Arabic should give the colour 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.

Tip

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

Things You'll Need

  • Gum Arabic powder
  • Water
  • Cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Glycerine
  • Watercolour paints
  • Watercolour palette
  • Watercolour brush
  • Watercolour paper
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About the Author

British writer Martin Malcolm specializes in children's nonfiction. His books include "A Giant in Ancient Egypt" and "Poetry By Numbers." His schoolkids' campaign for the Red Cross won the 2008 Charity Award. A qualified teacher, he has written for the BBC and MTV. He holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of London.