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What is Cornstarch?

Cornstarch is commonly used as a thickening agent in recipes.
Cornstarch can be mixed in cold water before being added to dishes to prevent clumping.
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  • Written By: Niki Foster
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 March 2014
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Cornstarch is starch that is ground from the white endosperm at the heart of a kernel of corn. It's used as a thickening agent in cooking, a health-conscious alternative to talc, and the main ingredient in a biodegradable plastic. Powdered sugar also includes a small amount so that it does not clump.

In the kitchen, cornstarch can be used as a binder for puddings or similar foods, or as a thickener for sauces, stews, and similar dishes. Combined with milk and sugar, it can be used in a simple pudding. It can form unappetizing clumps in hot water, so if cooks need to thicken something that is already cooking on the stove, experts recommend mixing a bit in a glass with cold water before adding it to the pot.

Some people prefer cornstarch-based baby powder to the more traditional talc-based variety, as talc may present health concerns. Though the United States Food and Drug Administration has designated talc as generally recognized as safe (GRAS), it has been linked to pulmonary complaints and a variety of cancers in some studies. Cornstarch, on the other hand, has never demonstrated a potential toxicity.

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One of the most interesting properties of cornstarch, often demonstrated in the elementary classroom, is that it becomes a type of non-Newtonian fluid known as a dilatant when mixed with water. Making a dilatant is a fun and easy experiment to try at home, especially when shared with young children. It is made up of one part water with one-and-a-half to two parts cornstarch, and a bit of food color can be added. The mixture, sometimes called Oobleck in reference to a Dr. Seuss book, acts as a thick liquid when allowed to sit, but as a solid when force is applied. A person can sink a hand into the mixture slowly, but it will not give if someone tries to punch it.

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Discuss this Article

anon342179
Post 82

I'm hispanic and a common recipe is a cornstarch pudding. It's beyond delicious, and I'm pretty sure it's just vanilla, cornstarch and water. I'm craving it like crazy lately. Would it have the same effects as eating cornstarch plain? Or is there some difference factor since it's mixed with other things. Note: I could eat an entire pot of pudding to myself. Probably a bad thing.

anon288395
Post 81

Can I eat cornstarch when it has been mixed with water then heated, a piece about the size of my thumb?

anon271417
Post 77

I am a board certified physician. Iron deficiency anemia is the reason that you crave things like cornstarch, flour, and even ice. This practice is called pica. It can be easily addressed by taking an iron supplement. There may be some other mineral deficiencies going on also, so a multivitamin may also be helpful.

I would also advise you to go to your doctor and get your iron checked so you can find out just how low it is, and so your doctor can give you an idea of how long you would need to be on the supplementation. Women who have heavy periods may need to be on it for years (or at least until menopause) because they lose so much iron monthly via menstrual blood loss. I hope this helps everyone.

anon268947
Post 76

Perhaps it's a mineral deficiency, and perhaps I am as crazy as some of the authors of these posts state.

I love eating Argo starch.

Thanks for the posted recipes on how I might improve my crunch effect.

anon255097
Post 73

I have been using corn starch from the kitchen as a body powder and have had swollen red itchy hands and fingers and have been getting a headache every day for a week. I believe it's the corn starch because it all started after I started using the corn starch. I have felt like crap ever since.

Has anyone else ever had this happen? I am not going to use this again and see if my symptoms will improve. I'll keep you posted.

anon254343
Post 72

I lost a lot of blood at the hospital one day due to a miscarriage and shortly after coming home, I wanted chalk? Out of the blue, for the first time ever, I wanted to eat chalk. Everything with flour in it started to appeal to me and also beans. Specifically, great northern beans and field peas. I also wanted crackers -- lots and lots of crackers. I would go pick up different types of crackers to see which one would satisfy this craving and I settled on Stoned Wheat Thins (red oval farms). Also I wanted cornstarch. I've seen cornstarch before but never wanted to eat it. Sometimes I just crave a spoonful or two out of the box a day. But how I really like it is to pour the starch in a plastic flat container, put a teeny bit of cornmeal in it, a pinch of baking powder and water. Mix it and sit it in a dry area to dry. As it dries, bend the bowl to break the starch into smaller clumps so it will dry faster. Once it's semi-dry its delicious and it's even better when its dry dry; it crunches in your mouth. I grab it by the handful and pop it in my mouth like popcorn. So good!

anon228772
Post 69

I think those who are eating corn starch right out of the box are probably deficient in nutrients like magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and other vital minerals.

Please consider taking a multi vitamin/mineral supplement and try to wean off the corn starch.

anon225440
Post 68

You people who eat and speak of eating cornstarch - are you nuts? You speak as if it is of the same addictive quality as heroin or cocaine. Really?

anon217482
Post 66

Something is wrong with all of us! I eat cornstarch and can't stop my sister either. I know it's unhealthy. We need some help!

anon204499
Post 65

I eat cornstarch and comet. I have gained so much weight, and my skin and iron were so low. My legs felt like I was 70 and I'm only 35. I would eat half a can a day sometimes. I would sweat and my skin would have a gritty texture.

I have been doing this for years and have had lots of emergency stomach issues. The last one I almost had to have a colostomy bag! I'm fed up with the weight gain. I'm taking three multivitamins a day and the cravings seem to be better. I still daydream about it, but I hope that ends. Until then, I will stay clear of the comet and ajax aisle.

anon188841
Post 64

I love corn starch. There's a brand called "Regal Cornflour" and it's absolutely the best. I too have a low blood count. I know I need to quit. God help us all.

anon177436
Post 63

how many pounds of corn does it take to make a pound of cornstarch?

anon171466
Post 62

I was just wanting to find out how processed corn starch is! Now, I know its loaded with sugars, processed to death, people are addicted to it and eating it right out of the box! Oh, arrowroot is much better.

anon169875
Post 61

I have been eating cornstarch for over ten years. I have stopped and started off and on and yes it is addictive. My daughter loves it with a straw but if you breathe it in all starch eaters knows it will take a minute for your throat to recover.

It's funny to know that people talk about eating starch. I love it, but want to stop. It's not good for your iron. that may be why you get short of breath. really I have lost weight because of eating too much starch.

anon164119
Post 59

Kuzu Root Starch is also a thickener. It's used in place of cornstarch and arrowroot starch. It costs much more than the other two, but it's also much healthier for you. And like the comments mentioned above, I eat Kuzu Root Starch from the bag. It comes in the chunks that we used to love in the Argo Laundry Starch.

anon162753
Post 58

i was very much in love with eating cornstarch. i would buy a several boxes and put them in the top of the freezer to let chill then suck it through a straw. Those were the days but i gave it up because of the effect it was having on my body.

anon160789
Post 57

I have been eating cornstarch for years. Well, I put it in my mouth and I let it dissolve and then I spit it out. I sometimes mix water in the box and let it get hard then I eat the rocks.

It is not good for you and I have gained so much weight. My feet and legs swell and I am out of breath walking short distances. It's addictive and it's not healthy.

anon149958
Post 56

Are there any answers to the questions concerning is it safe to eat cornstarch? Are there any professional analysts out there. I'm not, and this isn't doing anyone any good who has this problem with eating corn starch. someone with answers please reply. God bless you!

anon147973
Post 53

I would like to comment on the consumption of cornstarch. I too am a cornstarch addict. when i don't have any. i become very irritable and mean to people. i yell and must have starch immediately.

i blame my addiction on a low iron level. if taken properly, I would not have a craving for cornstarch. You see, I have had an anemic condition since my first pregnancy. But I am determined to treat my body right the way God intended for us to. I used to eat one box a day. now I'm down to two boxes a month. With God, all things are possible!

anon141241
Post 52

Okay, so I am a lover of corn starch! I make my cornstarch lumpy and crunchy by just adding teaspoons of water into the container, stirring it, placing the lid back on and shaking it and let it dry for about 3 to 4 days in a dry area. Lumps should be broken into small ones if they are too big they dry faster this way. If you let the starch dry well for a few days you will have that perfect crunch!

anon140101
Post 51

I've been eating corn starch for four years now. my aunts and grandma ate it too. it's so good, i eat a box a day. I've got to stop eating it. my blood is low, I'm tired every day and I've gained 20 pounds from eating it. It is not good for anyone to eat it.

anon125813
Post 50

To the cornstarch addicts. Obviously if you eat consciously you are way off. The cornstarch addiction stems from not enough nutrition intake.

I suggest you start with complex carbohydrates such as brown organic rice or any rice without the processing. Have that in small amounts during the day to get off the cornstarch, slowly add small amounts of greens, yes discover them they do taste good, like cooked kale, beet tops etc and also a few tablespoons of beans.

You can eat this in this proportion (1/1 the plate the rice) as often as you like until your body regulates, hopefully you will then have learned to eat by then.

anon125119
Post 49

I have been eating cornstarch for almost a year. It started last February. It's crazy but when I first tasted it it seemed natural, like I was supposed to eat it. I have thrown the cans away then went back and got them, out of the trash, off the street, anywhere. I have stopped so many times and it's packed the pounds on so fast --almost 20 in less than a year.

I used to eat two cans a day, and sometimes I would not even eat food. I want to stop so bad. it's unhealthy and I am short of breath. And what's so sad is, when I don't eat it I feel so much better. I'm hurting and harming myself.

anon119169
Post 48

i eat about 20 boxes of starch a month, i really want to stop but it's like a drug.

anon114486
Post 47

corn starch is safe to use to dry herpes sores on your genital area. Put corn starch in a salt shaker and apply after bathing.

anon114402
Post 46

I am rather concerned about some posts discussing the safety of corn starch and consuming it (particularly for those suffering with diabetes).

As a chemist researching starch, I would urge diabetics not to consume corn starch. Starch is made of sugars, in our bodies it breaks down to its basic constituent glucose. So please bear this in mind.

It's best to monitor the intake of starch even if you don't have any health problems. The healthiest options are in the form of bread (high fibre), potatoes, rice etc. Consider corn starch as sugar which equals to energy (if our bodies don't need the excess energy then this will be converted into fat leading to weight gain).

To anon 3452: Arrowroot is a natural product, mostly used as a thickener. Corn starch can be used instead of arrow root.

anon101983
Post 45

I am a diabetic (six months). My feet were swelling up big time and hurting very bad. My doc. said it was soft drinks. I experimented. I have found that it is corn starch! I can drink cokes all day and my count goes up maybe 12 - 20 points. Just one food like a tv dinner or a few slices of bread containing corn starch makes my count go up over 100 points and my feet start swelling. If this happens to others, please post it. My count was over 500. I quit anything with corn starch. And within one week, my feet were back to normal and my count is 112.

anon99380
Post 43

I like the walmart brand of cornstarch. it is so good!

anon96919
Post 42

I can't find an expiration date on my cornstarch? Is it still good?

anon89086
Post 41

I love cornstarch too! I find myself eating it every day. I love this stuff. I use to eat flour like crazy, too. But since I have been eating cornstarch, I have lost the taste for flour. It tastes too salty for me now.

Have you guys tried it cold, like right of the freezer? That is some good eating. I tried mixing it with powdered sugar. I didn't care for it too much. I think I like the sweetness that the cornstarch carries on its own.

Does anyone know where I can find the Argo Laundry Starch that is crunchy? It looks like small chunks. My Mom and I use to eat it years ago. I found some on the internet, but it wasn't the same. But you guys need to try the cornstarch freezing cold and a straw. It is so good.

anon87054
Post 40

Amylophagia - the compulsive and excessive eating of purified starch, such as cornstarch. If pregnant, it can result in gestational diabetes, and should be treated immediately.

If the person with amylophagia is not pregnant, they should still be treated by a physician, as it can also lead to other medical complications. People, do some deep thinking. Do you have tendencies towards this condition? Do not think it is normal or healthy to eat cornstarch by itself as if it were good for you. It's not. Seek to break free of this habit. If you can't do it on your own - seek help.

anon80599
Post 34

I love to eat corn starch and can't stop. I even get mad when I don't have it. I mix it with water in a bowl then pour it in a towel to become solid and let dry. I love it.

anon79225
Post 33

is it safe to eat corn starch for weight gain?

anon78226
Post 31

you people are all sick! why would anyone eat cornstarch the way you talk about it!

anon76112
Post 30

can somebody please tell me where i can get it from because i have no idea.

anon75762
Post 29

i am upset i dont have any now to eat. I ran out yesterday. argos is the best starch! I've been eating it from age 14 to now and i am 20. i was trying flour but no, starch is the best.

anon75760
Post 28

i love corn starch too, because i have low blood ans on dialysis so i eat it. but gosh it makes you gain weight.

giraffesrock
Post 27

i'm so happy i signed up for wise geek. it's so informational.

giraffesrock
Post 26

thanks to this website designer. it helped me with my homework about nutrients.

anon73111
Post 25

I love corn starch. I have been eating corn starch since 2000. It's like a drug to me. I try to stop but anytime I go to the grocery store it's like the starch is calling my name. I go through maybe five boxes of starch in a month. I know that starch causes low iron but I have also been told that starch causes yeast infections.

anon63514
Post 24

It is not wise to eat anything with cornstarch in it. It’s what they give to the pigs to fatten them up with.

anon63326
Post 23

don't eat cornstarch because i have put on 10 stone from eating it and am now 21 stone 9 pounds.

anon58371
Post 22

I never knew why I craved corn starch but as seen in the previous comment it is from low iron? so I too would like to know is it safe to eat corn starch? Please get back to me asap!

anon57796
Post 21

Why do women crave corn starch if their iron is low?

anon57341
Post 20

are corn starch and laundry starch the same?

anon55837
Post 19

I'm 16 yrs old and i just love corn starch to death!! It is so good i must buy at least two boxes of it just in case i run out! My iron is low so my doctor gave me iron pills for it but i just can't stop.

I'm always craving for some and so do my friends. I just love it and going to keep eating it. Sorry people!

anon54967
Post 18

can cornstarch be used on your face to clear up acne and black marks.

anon54065
Post 16

is it safe to eat corn starch alone, in do you gain weight by eating it?

anon52300
Post 15

Can cornstarch be used to decompose biodegradable plastic?

anon43102
Post 12

Is it safe to eat corn starch?

anon41660
Post 11

what can i subsitute for corn starch in a recipe?

anon37504
Post 10

can you use cornstrach to thicken yogurt when you are processing it?

anon36078
Post 9

we were told that if you put a teaspoon in some pudding and mix it in - it will give you energy. is this true? --Judy

anon35004
Post 8

To anon16211 to make custard with cornflour/cornstarch ~ mix 1 tblsp cornflour in a cup with t-3 tblsp cold milk and 2 tblsp sugar. Stir until all lumps are gone and the contents have turned to liquid. Heat 1/2 pint milk in a saucepan to just off boiling and remove from the heat. Add the cornflour mixture to the milk and stir quickly to prevent lumps formimg. Return to a gentle heat stirring constantly until bubbles appear on the top of the custard. Add a few drops of vanilla extract or essence to your own taste and stir well.

aerialchap
Post 7

How do you make the scone-like cakes which can be found in some stews?

anon22024
Post 6

how do you make the precooked cornstarch paste?

anon16624
Post 5

Yes, cornstarch can be used as a substitute for arrowroot powder. Many natural food recipes though call for arrowroot powder. Maybe because of its history of potential healing properties.

anon16388
Post 4

i need to know if it is healthy to eat corn starch? I know several ladies that are eating this product like food.

anon16211
Post 3

I can i use corn starch to produce custard? Thanks for your quick response.

anon8543
Post 2

is it safe to use on animals for chafing?

anon3452
Post 1

i have an all natural cake recipe that calls for arrowroot. is arrowroot an all natural product? can cornstarch be used instead?

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