Gum Carrageenan
KGEEN {Κ-(Κappa) Carrageenan}
IGEEN {ξ(iota) Carrageenan}
INS NO. 407 ; CAS NO. 9000-07-1

Gum Carrageenan is a high molecular weight linear polysaccharide comprising repeating galactose units & 3,6-anhydrogalactos, both sulphated and non-sulphated, joined by alternating -(1,3) & -(1,4) glycosidic links and is an extraction product of red seaweeds, Rhodophyceae. These red seaweeds contain this naturally occurring polysaccharide which fill the voids within the cellulose structure of the plant. The principal species of Rhodophyceae used in the commercial extraction & production of carrageenan include Eucheuma cottonii and E. spinosum, now reclassified as Kappaphycus alverezii (`Cottonii') and Eucheuma denticulatum (`Spinosum').

There are 3 types of carrageenan; kappa, iota & lambda & can be defined by different types of thickening, gelling & texture they offer to make a gel: Kappa forms firm to brittle gels with potassium ions; Iota forms soft & elastic thermally reversible gels with calcium ions Lambda imparts viscous thickening property.

Sodium Alginate Beverage

Gum Carrageenan - Shakes

Due to their helical conformation during the cooling of the kappa carrageenan solutions, the chains interact synergistically with locust bean or konjac gum & thus modify the gel structure. Infact the interaction of K-carrageenan & kappa-casein is used to stabilize many dairy products.

All carrageenans are soluble in hot water but only the sodium salts of kappa & iota are soluble in cold water. Salt content of foods has no effect on lambda carrageenan; it develops viscosity in cold water & milk but on heating & then cooling much higher viscosities are obtained. Lambda carrageenan gives viscous solutions which show pseudoplasticity or shear-thinning when pumped or stirred. These solutions are used for thickening, particularly in dairy products, to give a full body with a non-gummy, creamy texture. The influence of temperature is an important factor in deciding the type or combination of carrageenans that need to be used in a food system. All carrageenans hydrate at high temperatures and kappa & iota carrageenans in particular exhibit a low fluid viscosity. On cooling, these carrageenans set between 40°C and 70°C to form a range of gel textures depending on the type and level of cations present.

Sodium Alginate Beverage

Gum Carrageenan - Ice Cream

Solutions of carrageenan lose viscosity & gel strength when heated in systems with pH values below about 4.3. This is because of autohydrolysis which occurs at low pH values as carrageenan in the acid form cleaves at the 3,6- anhydrogalactose linkage in the molecule. The rate of autohydrolysis increases at elevated temperatures & at low cation levels. However, once the solution is cooled below the gelling temperature, potassium ions associate with the sulphate groups on the carrageenan and this prevents autohydrolysis to proceed. To minimise the effects of autohydrolysis, it is recommended that, where possible, carrageenan should be processed under neutral conditions and acid should be added to the food immediately before depositing and filling. In acidic foods carrageenan should be added near the end of the process to avoid excessive polymer breakdown.

Sodium Alginate Beverage

Gum Carrageenan - Whipped cream

In fact confirmation that no degradation occurs when the carrageenan is in the gelled state is demonstrated by the stability of acidic water dessert gels stored for periods of several months at ambient temperatures.

  • Food:Jelly, beverages, soft candy, dairy products, baking & sauces products, meat products & beer.
  • Making vegan soft gels
  • Air fresheners & other household items
  • Toothpastes, lotions, shampoos, facial masks etc.
Sodium Alginate Beverage

Gum Carrageenan - Baking Products

Sodium Alginate Beverage

Gum Carrageenan - Baking Products

Detailed Applications to Food Products

The broad spectrum of thickening and gelling properties of carrageenan results in its use in a wide range of water and milk-based food products.

Typical applications for carrageenan in water
Application Function Carrageenan type Use level (%)
Dessert gels Gelation kappa + iota or with locust bean gum 0.5 to1.0
Low calorie gels Gelation kappa + iota 0.5 to1.0
Non-dairy puddings Emulsion stabilisation kappa 0.1 to 0.3
Syrups Suspension, bodying kappa, lambda 0.3 to 0.5
BBQ and pizza sauces Bodying kappa 0.2 to 0.5
Whipped toppings Emulsion stabilisation kappa 0.1 to 0.3
Imitation coffee creams Emulsion stabilisation lambda 0.1 to 0.2
Petfoods Thickening, suspending iota + guar gum 0.5 to 1.0
Gelation Fat stabilisation kappa + locust bean gum 0.5 to 1.0
Typical applications for carrageenan in Dairy Products
Application Function Carrageenan type Use level (%)
Milk gels      
Cooked flans Gelation kappa + iota 0.2 to 0.3
Cold-prepared custards Thickening, gelation kappa, iota, lambda 0.2 to 0.3
Puddings and pie fillings Reduced starch, improved
flavour, less fouling/burn-on
kappa 0.1 to 0.2
Ready-to-eat desserts Syneresis control, bodying kappa + iota 0.1 to 0.2
Whipped products      
Whipped cream Stabilise overrun lambda 0.05 to 0.15
Aerosol cream Stabilise emulsion & overrun kappa 0.02 to 0.05
Cold-prepared milks      
Shakes Suspension, mouthfeel, stabilise overrun lambda 0.1 to 0.2
Acidified dairy desserts      
Yogurt Fruit suspension, mouthfeel kappa 0.2 to 0.5
Frozen desserts      
Ice cream, ice milk Whey prevention, control meltdown Kappa (+ Locust bean gum) 0.01 to 0.02
Pasteurised milks      
Chocolate milks Suspension, mouthfeel kappa, lambda 0.015 to 0.03
Soya milks Suspension, mouthfeel iota, kappa 0.03 to 0.1
Sterilised milks      
Chocolate milks Suspension, mouthfeel kappa 0.015 to 0.025
Evaporated milks Whey prevention, mouthfeel   0.005 to 0.015
Processed cheese      
Cheese slices and blocks Improve grating, slice integrity, control melting kappa 0.3 to 2.0
Cream cheese and spreads Gelation, moisture binding Kappa + locust bean gum 0.3 to 0.5