Guar gum, also called guaran, is a material prepared from guar beans which has thickening and stabilizing property of use in various industries, conventionally the food industry, but increasingly the hydraulic fracturing industry. The guar seeds are dehusked, milled and screened to obtain the guar gum. It is typically produced as a free-flowing, off-white powder. It is classed as a galactomannan.
The guar bean is first and foremost grown in India, Pakistan, U.S., Australia and Africa. India produces about 2.5 – 3.5 million tons of guar annually, making it the major producer with about 80% of world production, while Pakistan produced 250,000 tons of guar in 2013. In India, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana are the main producing regions, and Jodhpur, Sri Ganganagar and Hanumangarh in Rajasthan are the major Guar trading markets. The United States has produced 4,600 to 14,000 tonnes of guar over the last 5 years.[ Texas acreage since 1999 has fluctuated from about 7,000 to 50,000 acres.[The world production for guar gum and its derivatives is about 1.0 Million tonnes. Industrial guar gum accounts for about 70% of the total demand.
Mainly it is used as a proppant transport / proppant suspending agent in hydraulic fracturing. In 2012 guar prices increased by 900-1000%. At its peak it reached to $28000 per ton. however later stabilised to $8000 per ton. The main reason for this large scale price rise was the inventory build up by companies like Halliburton and Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, Calfrac Well Services, amidst the fear of shortage of guar gum for drilling due to ongoing drought in Rajasthan. 2013 was a strong year for guar sowing and production in India. The total sowing area rose by 21 percent in 2013 to reach 10.6 million acres. Rajasthan, Haryana, and Gujarat – the three key guar-producing states – exceeded the sowing area target set by their respective agriculture departments. Non-traditional guar cultivators in other Indian states also showed keen interest in the crop in 2013. Calgary-based Trican Well Services Ltd. touts its trademarked guar substitutes TriFrac-C and Novum. Baker Hughes trademarked something called “AquaPerm,” while Halliburton rolled out “PermStim” . By 2013, Schlumberger was advertising its trademarked guar-substitute, “HiWay.” Most of these laboratory substitutes use biodegradable polymers. But according to market trends analyst Thomasnet.com (May 9, 2013), “…there isn’t anything currently available with the reliability and quantities of guar gum.”
The American Petroleum Institute’s July 2014 report, Hydraulic Fracturing: Unlocking America’s Natural Gas Resources, uses images of a tube of lipstick and an ice cream bar (which both contain guar gum) as examples of the non-threatening ingredients in fracking fluids. One of India’s biggest guar exporters, Vikas WSP, gave away 3,000 tons of guar seeds to encourage farmers to switch away from cotton and other crops to cultivation of guar bushes.
What Are the Benefits of Guar Gum?
- Helps Form Gluten-Free Baked Goods
Guar gum is one of the most frequently used binding gums in most gluten-free recipes and baked gluten-free products. It can be used in place of wheat flour or other binding products that provide the signature bounce we look for in most baked items. It works by holding water and air in place, making gluten-free doughs less crumbly or likely to fall apart.
Considering that holding together texture is a major obstacle in gluten-free baking, guar gum is an easy way to add crispness, bounce or resilience to things like gluten-free crusts, muffins, pizza dough or bread without using high-gluten wheat products, processed additives or other grain flours.
- Keeps Ingredients (Including Fats/Oils) from Separating
If you plan on ever trying to make probiotic-rich homemade kefir or yogurt, guar gum comes in handy for thickening and maintaining homogeneity of texture. Same goes for homemade fruit sherbet, ice cream, almond milk or coconut milk. It’s very useful for keeping thinner ingredients (like water) combined uniformly with thicker ingredients (like coconut cream or oil).
- Might Help You Feel Full
There’s evidence that the high-carbohydrate content of guar means it has a low digestibility and also swells in the digestive tract to provide the feeling fullness. For this reason, it’s often used as a filler or to add bulk to recipes, fiber supplements or laxatives.
Some have found that guar products (or similar fiber products made from the guar bean) can help increase satiety, possibly lead people to eat less overall, slow the digestion of a meal, and possibly help decrease cholesterol absorption and the glycemic index of a meal. One reason that guar gum might help you feel full after a meal is because it increases viscosity in the gut, which causes a slower absorption rate of carbohydrates and stimulates bile production.