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10 Surprising Things That Are Made from Corn

1. Fireworks

firework display 1. Fireworks

Fireworks are comprised of several different components which all have to work together in order to see the colors and hear the big boom. Some of the compounds require a “binder” in order to burn properly. A common binder is called dextrin, a light carbohydrate most commonly made from corn!

2. Adhesives

adhesive glue 2. Adhesives

Though it can take different forms, many glues and pastes (such as Elmer’s glue) commonly contain corn meal or cornstarch, which have a thick, sticky quality. Industrial strength adhesives may contain corn germ (which is what you are left with after the oil has been removed from corn). Corn germ is less expensive than some resins that are also used.

3. Disposable Diapers

baby disposable diaper 3. Disposable Diapers

Nowadays you can get “green” anything, including disposable diapers! Eco-friendly diaper brands are popping up across the US. Many of them use wheat and corn starch blended with sodium polyacrylate as a super absorbent core. In other words, it’s the stuff that soaks it all up and keeps the diaper from leaking!

4. Matches

matches dark room 4. Matches

Cornstarch is commonly used in the production of matches, particularly in the match head. The starch is often used as a binding agent. Additionally, matches that are made from cardstock or paper might have corn products in the paper, used to make it more rigid.

5. Make-Up

makeup blush 5. Make-Up

Many cosmetics list zea mays as an ingredient. This is simply the scientific name for corn! Cosmetics can include corn products such as oils, starches, powders, and more. One of the most common is corn starch. It’s used in mascara as a natural thickening agent, in nail polishes for a natural matte finish, in deodorants as a natural absorbent, and as a natural version of dry-shampoo.

6. Shampoo

shampoo head and shoulders 6. Shampoo

Shampoos usually contain citric acid, which often comes from corn. Most people think about citric acid coming from fruit, but it’s also possible for it to be derived from corn. Its purpose in shampoo is two-fold. First of all, citric acid is a relatively weak acid that helps to bring the pH levels down to around 5.5. This is necessary for the scales on your hair follicles to lay flat (making your hair feel smooth and shiny). The second purpose of citric acid is to take preservative action—it helps to prevent bacterial growth.

7. Spark Plugs

spark plug 7. Spark Plugs

Spark plugs are essentially made out of metal and ceramics. When the crystalline structures of cornstarch are heated to very high temperatures, it hardens and becomes a type of ceramic. It is able to withstand high temperatures, and also withstands the caustic properties of some specific acids. Works out pretty well for your vehicle!

8. Toothpaste

toothpaste toothbrush 8. Toothpaste

Toothpaste includes sorbitol, which is commonly made out of corn syrup. Sorbitol gives toothpaste its sweet flavor, and keeps it from tasting like soapy minerals! But don’t get too carried away with the taste—sorbitol is also a natural laxative (which may account for the laxative effect of prunes, since many dried fruits contain sorbitol).

9. Rubber Tires

rubber tires 9. Rubber Tires

This one might be a bit of stretch, since the rubber itself might not have any corn products in it, but the mold that your tire was made in was likely coated with powdered cornstarch before the rubber was poured. This helps to keep the substance from sticking to the mold after it hardens! Subsequently, there may be trace amounts of corn in your tires. And it’s not just with tires—this practice is utilized for all sorts of molded items, even candies like jellybeans and licorice!

10. Paper

paper magazines 10. Paper

Some variations of paper (particularly for magazines) are coated with what is called a viscosifier. This is made from a latex substance called styrene-butadiene. The “butadiene” is the important part here—that is a chemical produced by ethanol, which is commonly derived from corn. That’s a lot of big fancy words to say that corn makes your paper kinda shiny!