Continuing with my posts on product ingredients, I have some information about a substance that often brings up questions from customers: ammonium glycyrrhizate.
I don't actually know where the ammonium glycyrrhizate that I use is produced...in a lab somewhere, I guess. It's a compound isolated from the root of the licorice plant. It is 50 times sweeter than sugar.
My best understanding (I need to take more chemistry classes) is that it’s a molecular cluster of acids, salts and esters that all come from licorice. In its physical form, it’s a very fine white powder that looks like powdered sugar. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes licorice and licorice derivatives on its list of substances considered Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).
Sometimes called “Super Sweet”, ammonium glycyrrhizate is used to sweeten and thicken lip products. It’s also used in many other items that you probably haven’t noticed like dairy products, confections, baked goods, and beverages where sweetness or flavor enhancement is the goal. It’s often found in sauces such as gravy, BBQ, soy beverages, puddings, ice cream, candies, cough syrups or cough drops and even cigarettes, where it’s used to flavor the tobacco. Yikes kids!!
I only use ammonium glycyrrhizate in my Smooch Stick lip balms, but I do so because other natural sweeteners (like honey or sucrose) don’t blend well with the oils and waxes that I use as ingredients. They make the lip balms grainy and...well, not good. So I’m thrilled to have found a “natural” (if not actually found in nature in this form) sweetener. I use a tiny amount (about 1 teaspoon per 100 lip balms) . I personally think that lip stuff should have a little sweetness. Don’t you? So much better for smooching!