The Scientific Reason Peanut Butter Can Help Get Gum Out Of Your Hair

Ah, salty, creamy peanut butter –- or crunchy, if you prefer. You add it to smoothies, stir it into Asian sauces, spread it on bread with fruity jam, and they even make peanut butter flavored whiskey -– this is just the tip of the iceberg on how many things it's in or inspired by. Besides peanut butter's delicious flavor, its sticky consistency and fat content can come in handy on a particularly bad hair day.

It's common –- you're riding with the windows down and the gum you were just munching on flew into your wind-blown hair. Or, your child was playing with their gum and that long sticky strand ended up in their precious locks. If it hasn't happened to you, it's probably happened to someone you know. In a sticky situation such as this, it's easy to throw in the towel and go for the scissors, but instead, that jar of peanut butter in the cupboard just might save the day.

Peanut butter is hydrophobic

According to UCSB Scienceline, peanut butter and gum have one thing in common: they're both hydrophobic. Hydrophobic materials are materials that don't mix with water –- and if you recall, oil and water definitely don't mix. Oil has the ability to dissolve chewing gum, while water does the opposite. You'll notice when you take a sip of a beverage with chewing gum in your mouth, the gum actually hardens and makes it tougher to chew. 

A natural instinct when trying to remove gum from hair is to hop in the shower and let the water and conditioner do the work, but water will actually allow the gum to cling to the strands of hair even more, while the conditioner doesn't contain enough oil to dissolve the gum. The best solution is leaving water out of the equation and coating the sticky area with peanut butter (per Action Unlimited Resources).

A sticky substance helps another sticky substance

Yes, this sounds even stickier than gum, and a bit messy, but peanut butter is easier to coat the area and helps get between the gum and the hair. Once you've massaged the peanut butter into the area, it should start to break down within minutes (per Healthline). Once the gum particles have separated and you've removed as much as you can, it is then safe to hop in the shower and let water, shampoo, and conditioner rid the hair of any leftover matter (via LEAFtv). This hack is sure to save you the task of giving a bad haircut.

According to LEAFtv, if you don't have peanut butter, other types of fats and oils such as butter, mayonnaise, olive oil, canola oil, and coconut oil will work. In fact, even Vaseline or toothpaste can help, seeing that they contain oils (via Taste of Home). So the next time you're in a gum-stuck-in-the-hair situation, there's no stressing, and definitely no chopping.