... a natural polymer substance that you use
What is gelatin used for?
- binders for paper money
- bonding for the tip of matches
- bakery products
- photographic film
- whipping agent in dairy products
- medicine emulsions
- hardening of jams and jellies
- treatment of wounds as a sponge
Exactly what IS gelatin anyway?
Basically it's a protein substance obtained by boiling animal bones and connective tissue. (Hey, you asked!) But where does the raw material for gelatin come from??? You guessed it! The meat industry where all that's left but the moo is converted to gelatin. The end result is a pale yellow, dry powder. The powder is about 85% protein, 13% water, and 2% mineral salts, free of additives and preservatives. Gelatin contains about 18 different amino acids joined together in a chain. Eventually a polymer in the shape of a triple helix (or triple spiral) is the complex form that gives gelatin its unique ability to, well, "gel" things.
Here's a question for you:
What's the main polymer in gelatin?
History of this great natural polymer:
- Gelatin substances were first made during the fourteenth century. People in France used it as a source of protein during the English blockade in the war with Napoleon.
- This first record of man making gelatin was about 1680 when a Frenchman, Papin, cooked some bones and found that the extract solidified.
- The word "gelatin" is from Latin "gelatus" meaning stiff or frozen.
- The first patent was issued in 1754 in England for the manufacture of gelatin. The commercial production of gelatin began in the 1950's.
This page and activities were written by: Polymer Ambassadors Wayne Goates (Kansas), Mary Harris (Missouri), and Gina Watkiss (Georgia); and creative consultant Dr. Patricia DePra. Graphics by Virginia Smith.