For the production of xylitol, plant materials containing xylan (e.g. wood, bark, or corn cobs) are shredded and mixed with water so that the xylan dissolves in the water. Xylan is a xylose polysaccharide, a long-chain wood sugar molecule also known as hemicellulose, which is indigestible for humans. In beech wood, which is the main type used by Danisco for the production of xylose, the xylan content is about 27%. There are different processes of hydrolyzing xylan to yield individual wood sugar molecules (xylose). In the next phase of production, xylitol is made from the xylose.
Xylose tastes significantly less sweet than normal sugar (sucrose), and the human body cannot digest it. Through ion-exchange chromatography, the xylose is isolated, purified, and finally catalytically hydrogenated into xylitol using hydrogen and Raney nickel. The solution is concentrated, filtered, and purged of heavy metals and other impurities by additional processes until very pure, crystalline xylitol remains.
Through crystallization, orthorhombic crystals are formed, though they are usually irregular. A very fine powder can be achieved by spray-drying, which is common for the production of lozenges and pharmaceuticals, for example. Fine xylitol powder can also be produced by grinding the larger crystals. We carry xylitol powder both ground (blue canister) and unground (green and red canisters).
In Germany, as far as we know, you can only buy xylitol made from plants that were grown using natural methods. Our Xucker is completely free of genetic engineering – through the entire production process. This is true of our Finnish as well as our Chinese products.
The xylitol made from wood is significantly better for the environment, as long as the wood comes from sustainable forestry in Europe (as is the case with Danisco). No trees are cut down for the production of xylitol.On the contrary, large quantities of xylose, along with acetic acid, are a by-product of the processing of paper pulp from wood. That way the wood can be utilized 100%.
Currently there is no organic xylitol on the market. We would gladly be the first to offer it.