What is glycerol ester of wood rosin and its purpose in sports drinks?

If you drink sports drinks, fruit flavored drinks, etc., No doubt you’ve read that the ingredients include Glycerol Ester Of Rosin. So now you wonder “What is THAT?” and now you’ve found your way here. In a nutshell and also at the simplest term, it is a food additive, used as an emulsifying (combining two fluids into one) stabilizer in drinks and as an component in chewing gum.

It is a food additive used to stabilize “mixed” style beverages (sports drinks, fruit drinks, etc). It is a refined Esterification product of edible Glycerol and gum Rosin which has also been refined. Notice I said “edible”… that means you can eat or consume it.

Before they are included in the drink recipe, most Glycerol products are light yellow solids and have stabilizing characteristics. These are free of irritants, easily dissolve in various other liquid solvents such as Ester, plant oils, and other natural essential oils and alcohols.

Although water and oil don’t mix, they are often blended into an emulsion. Mayo, for example, is an emulsion of eggs plus vegetable oil. When it comes to fruit-flavored beverages, adding glycerol ester of wood rosin allows the fruit oils to stay in suspension when blended with water. Which means that a can of orange-flavored soft drink would have a consistent orange flavor, not a layer of orange oil floating on top of fizzy water.

Esterification is only a reaction of an alcohol with an acid to produce an ester (or “compound”) and water.

It may sound threatening and there’s actually a trace of real wood rosin in lots of citrus-flavored carbonated drinks and other fruit drinks. Without the ester of wood rosin as a stabilizer, the flavoring oil would eventually separate and the beverage would likely become unpalatable.

To have an enjoyable and real fruit taste in a water-based drink, drink manufacturers use flavoring oils produced from citrus fruits such as grapefruits, lemons as well as limes. These concentrated, flavoring oils have to be balanced out with sweeteners so the flavor is pleasing. The problem is that fruit oils don’t mix properly with carbonated water or even natural fruit juices and would actually float on top of the beverage, even if you tried to shake it up or blend it.

This is where the wood rosin is needed. Rosin, or sap if you prefer, is collected from the stumps of long-leaf pine trees and combined with other substances to form a thickening agent called ester gum. Ester gum is often used to thicken or stabilize food items such as chewing gum or perhaps frozen treats, yet would be too dense for beverages. When the ester of wood rosin is coupled with glycerol, however, it is suitable as a stabilizer.

There is absolutely no evidence that wood rosin presents any kind of health threat to consumers. Federal regulations prevent more than one hundred parts of wood rosin per million, which basically means there’s only a trace amount of actual wood rosin in a typical can of citrus-flavored pop. There are more stabilizers authorized for use in beverages, but manufacturers consider glycerol ester of wood rosin to be the most effective and most organic choice.

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