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What is Tapioca Starch

Tapioca is a starch extracted from the storage roots of the cassava plant (Manihot esculenta) obtained naturally through extraction from the grain or root of cassava, a root vegetable. It is often commercially sold in the form of a dry powder and its grade varies based on the type of application it is being used for. However, often it is used in the food industry due to the lack of certain properties that are needed in other industries.


This species is native to the north region and central-west region of Brazil, but its use spread throughout South America. The plant was carried by Portuguese and Spanish explorers to most of the West Indies and Africa and Asia. It is a perennial shrub adapted to the hot conditions of tropical lowlands. Cassava copes better with poor soils than many other food plants. Although tapioca is a staple food for millions of people in tropical countries, it provides only carbohydrate food value, and is low in protein, vitamins and minerals. In other countries, it is used as a thickening agent in various manufactured foods.

Molecular structure of amylose and amylopectin.┬áLonger amylose molecules tend to make a product’s texture stringy because of the way they associate. The molecular weight of the amylose also affects the elasticity of a gel. Longer molecules tend to associate more strongly and produce stronger, more brittle gels, but there is a limit to this effect.


The Uses of Tapioca Starch

In addition to its cooking uses, the pearls have been used to starch clothes by boiling the pearls with the clothes. Tapioca is a grain- and gluten-free product that has many uses:

Adhesive and Glue Industry
Tapioca Starch is popular in the adhesive industry due to its appreciable binding capacity due to its high viscosity sticky properties when mixed with water or certain chemicals.

Food Industry
It is used to reduce manufacturing costs because of its efficiency as a thickener. It is also used to delay the melting of ice cream.

Textile Industry
It is used in thread process in order to reduce friction and fraying. It is also used to increase flexibility of the thread generated.

Other applications
In the paper industry, it is used to increase the elasticity and concentration of the paper before the pulp is pressed into sheets.



There are not many documented cases of allergic reaction to cassava or tapioca. However, people allergic to latex may experience allergic reactions due to cross-reactivity. That means that your body mistakes compounds in cassava for allergens in latex, causing an allergic reaction. This is also known as the latex-fruit syndrome.