Corn starch

Corn starch or maize starch is the starch derived from the corn (maize) grain.[1] The starch is obtained from the endosperm of the kernel. Corn starch is a common food ingredient, used in thickening sauces or soups, and in making corn syrup and other sugars.[2] It is versatile, easily modified, and finds many uses in industry as adhesives, in paper products, as an anti-sticking agent, and textile manufacturing.[3] It has medical uses, such as to supply glucose for people with glycogen storage disease.[4] Like many products in dust form, it can be hazardous in large quantities due to its flammability.

Physical properties

When mixed with a fluid, cornstarch can rearrange itself into a non-Newtonian fluid. For example, adding water transforms cornstarch into a material commonly known as Oobleck while adding oil transforms cornstarch into an electrorheological (ER) fluid. The concept can be explained through the mixture termed "cornflour slime".[5]


Cornstarch was discovered in 1840 by Thomas Kingsford, superintendent of a wheat starch factory in Jersey City, New Jersey. Until 1851, corn starch was used primarily for starching laundry and other industrial uses.


Although mostly used for cooking and as a household item, cornstarch is used for many purposes in several industries, ranging from its use as a chemical additive for certain products, to medical therapy for certain illnesses.


Cornstarch is used as a thickening agent in liquid-based foods (e.g., soup, sauces, gravies, custard), usually by mixing it with a lower-temperature liquid to form a paste or slurry. It is sometimes preferred over flour alone because it forms a translucent, rather than opaque mixture. As the starch is heated, the molecular chains unravel, allowing them to collide with other starch chains to form a mesh, thickening the liquid (Starch gelatinization).

It is usually included as an anti-caking agent in powdered sugar (10X or confectioner's sugar).

A common substitute is arrowroot, which replaces the same amount of cornstarch.[6]

Food producers reduce production costs by adding varying amounts of cornstarch to foods, for example to cheese and yogurt.[7]

Chicken nuggets with a thin outer layer of cornstarch allows increased oil absorption and crispness after the latter stages of frying.[8]


Baby powder may include cornstarch among its ingredients.[9] Cornstarch can be used to manufacture bioplastics.


Cornstarch is the preferred anti-stick agent on medical products made from natural latex, including condoms, diaphragms, and medical gloves.[10][11]

Cornstarch has properties enabling supply of glucose to maintain blood sugar levels for people with glycogen storage disease.[12] Cornstarch can be used starting at age 6–12 months allowing glucose fluctuations to be deterred.[13]


The corn is steeped for 30 to 48 hours, which ferments it slightly. The germ is separated from the endosperm and those two components are ground separately (still soaked). Next the starch is removed from each by washing. The starch is separated from the corn steep liquor, the cereal germ, the fibers and the corn gluten mostly in hydrocyclones and centrifuges, and then dried. (The residue from every stage is used in animal feed and to make corn oil or other applications.) This process is called wet milling. Finally, the starch may be modified for specific purposes.[14]


Like many other powders, cornstarch is susceptible to dust explosions. It is believed that overheating of a cornstarch-based powder on June 27, 2015, initiated the Formosa Fun Coast explosion in Taiwan, despite warnings on the packaging indicating that the material is flammable.[15]

Names and varieties

See also


  1. "Cornstarch | Definition of Cornstarch by Merriam-Webster". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-05-14.
  2. "Uses of Corn". Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  3. Starch : chemistry and technology. Whistler, Roy Lester., BeMiller, James N., Paschall, Eugene F. (2nd ed.). Orlando: Academic Press. 1984. Chap. 6, p. 121. ISBN 978-0127462707. OCLC 9155004.
  4. Gremse, D.A.; Bucuvalas, J. C.; Balistreri, W. F. (October 1990). "Efficacy of cornstarch therapy in type III glycogen-storage disease". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 52 (4): 671–674. ISSN 0002-9165. PMID 2403059.
  5. "How to: make a liquid that's also a solid". 2013-08-05. Archived from the original on 2016-12-12. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
  6. "Ingredient Substitution". 2007-09-11. Archived from the original on 2011-05-10. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  7. "High-Tech Shortcut To Greek Yogurt Leaves Purists Fuming". Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  8. Bilge Altunaker; Sepil Sahin; Gulum Sumnu (March 2004). "Functionality of batters containing different starch types for deep-fat frying of chicken nuggets". European Food Research and Technology. 218 (4): 318–322. doi:10.1007/s00217-003-0854-5.
  9. Manley, Duncan (1998). Biscuit, cookie and cracker manufacturing manuals - Manual 1 - Ingredients. Cambridge, England: Woodhead Publishing Limited. p. 34. ISBN 1 85573 292 0. Archived from the original on 2016-08-26.
  10. "The Free Lance-Star - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  11. "Medical Glove Powder Report". Archived from the original on 2016-05-12. Retrieved 2016-05-14.
  12. "A Sweet Discovery". University of Florida Health. Archived from the original on 5 March 2017. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  13. "GSD Type 1". GSD Life. Archived from the original on 2013-11-02. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  14. "International Starch: Production of corn starch". Archived from the original on 2011-05-15. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  15. Mullen, Jethro; Novak, Kathy; Kwon, K.J. "'All her skin was gone': Horrific aftermath of fireball at Taiwan water park". CNN. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  16. "BBC - Food - Cornflour recipes". BBC. Archived from the original on 12 May 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
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