Other substances have replaced it where toxicity is not an issue, as the proportions of the various chemicals in gum arabic vary widely and make it unpredictable.
Still, it remains an important ingredient in soft drink syrups, "hard" gummy candies such as gumdrops, marshmallows, M&M's chocolate candies.
More recently, particularly in commercial manufacturing, gum arabic is often replaced by more refined and consistent alternatives, such as carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC).
The historical photography process of gum bichromate photography uses gum arabic mixed with ammonium or potassium dichromate and pigment to create a coloured photographic emulsion that becomes relatively insoluble in water upon exposure to ultraviolet light.
In the final print, the acacia gum permanently binds the pigments onto the paper.
Gum arabic is also used to protect and etch an image in lithographic processes, both from traditional stones and aluminum plates.
It is the original source of the sugars arabinose and ribose, both of which were first discovered and isolated from it, and are named after it.
Gum arabic is used primarily in the food industry as a stabilizer. Gum arabic is a key ingredient in traditional lithography and is used in printing, paint production, glue, cosmetics and various industrial applications, including viscosity control in inks and in textile industries, though less expensive materials compete with it for many of these roles.The gum is normally made up into a solution in hot water (typically 10–25 g/litre), and then added to the glaze solution after any ball milling in concentrations from 0.02% to 3% of gum arabic to the dry weight of the glaze.On firing, the gum burns out at a low temperature, leaving no residues in the glaze.Gum arabic was defined by the 31st Codex Committee for Food Additives, held at The Hague, The Netherlands, from 19–23 March 1999, as the dried exudate from the trunks and branches of Acacia senegal or Vachellia (Acacia) seyal in the family Leguminosae (Fabaceae)”.Gum arabic's mixture of polysaccharides and glycoproteins gives it the properties of a glue and binder that is edible by humans.While gum arabic is now produced throughout the African Sahel, it is still harvested and used in the Middle East.