What is it?
Sorbitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol with a sweet taste that is found in many edible fruits, berries, and vegetables. Sorbitol was first discovered in the fresh juice of mountain ash berries in 1872. The sorbitol we use is derived from corn. In its natural state, sorbitol appears as a white crystalline powder.
What does it do?
Because of its taste and superior ability to retain moisture, sorbitol has many uses in consumer products. It may be included as a flavor enhancer, thickener and skin conditioning agent. It is frequently used in sugar-free chewing gum, ice cream and cough syrup. We use sorbitol primarily in our gel toothpastes and mouthwash products as a moistener, because it provides better clarity than glycerin.
How is it made?
To produce our sorbitol, corn goes through a wet-milling process to make the basic products of starch, gluten, fiber, and corn oil. The starch component is exposed to enzymes and broken down into simple sugars to produce glucose (dextrose). Then, the addition of hydrogen over a metal catalyst converts glucose into sorbitol.
What are the alternatives?
Glycerin and propylene glycol are the most commonly used alternatives.
Is this the right option for me?
Sorbitol has no known risks for how it is used in our products. It has been used safely in both skin care and oral care products for almost 100 years, and is listed by the US Food and Drug Administration as an ingredient that is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).1
Tom’s of Maine recognizes that no two people are alike, and even with naturally derived ingredients, some individuals may develop an allergic reaction that is unique to them. As with any product, be sure to discontinue use if you experience discomfort or other indications that the product may not be appropriate for your individual body chemistry.
1 21 CFR 184.1835