Where’s the Corn in Non-Food Products?

Last updated: June 2, 2013

This research was originally done by the creator of the blog called Hidden Corn. This blog is no longer maintained as the author  was no longer keeping up on the newest developments. I wanted it to remain available for people, so I took the data over and am soliciting help from a trusted friend to keep it up to date. We are making changes and additions as we note missing or outdated information.  Please comment or email me at cornallergygirl@gmail.com  if you see anything that is incorrect, or any broken links.

3D PRINTER INK: The two available “inks” for 3D printers are ABS and PLA. PLA is polylactic acid, made from corn starch.

AIRBAGS: Automobile airbags are lubricated with either cornstarch or talc. When the airbag deploys, the cornstarch or talc is also ejected in a fine powder that looks like smoke.

ADHESIVES / GUMMED PAPERS: The adhesive can be derived from corn.

ART SUPPLIES: Especially those geared towards kids, can contain corn-based ingredients, as these are generally considered to be a low allergy-risk (ha!) and non-toxic, as compared to petroleum-based ingredients. (source: News for Corn Avoiders)

BALLOONS: Can contain a dusting of cornstarch inside to keep the balloon from sticking to itself. (source: News for Corn Avoiders)

BEACH BALLS: Can contain a dusting of cornstarch inside to keep the ball from sticking to itself. (source: News for Corn Avoiders)

CARDBOARD: Many corrugated cardboards contain corn in some form or fashion. Keep in mind things like kids’ playhouses can sometimes include, or be made entirely of, corrugated cardboard. (source: News for Corn Avoiders)

CHARCOAL: Stick with the lump (or wood-piece) charcoal. The briquettes have corn, rice, potato, or wheat starch in them to bind them into a uniform shape.  You could potentially find a manufacturer that uses non-corn starches, but they could switch suppliers at any time.  The lump (or wood-piece) charcoal is wood and leaves less ash.

CLOTHING / FABRIC: If a piece of clothing is touted as being eco-friendly or hypoallergenic or all-natural, that fabric could contain corn. Corn fabric is also being integrated into mattresses, bedding, towels, carpets, upholstery and yarn. Even if your fabric is certified as being 100% organic cotton, it may have been washed in a corny detergent. Clothing (new *and* secondhand) may have been sprayed with a anti-wrinkle agent containing cornstarch.

DE-ICER: “Eco-friendly” products can be a corn-based solution. (source: Corn-Free Lifestyle)

FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS: Can contain cornstarch.**These can be extremely problematic, especially for women who are contact-sensitive.**

HOT PACKS: Can contain corn kernels as the filler. If you receive a handmade microwave heating bag as a gift, be sure to inquire as to what comprises the filling.

ISOSORBIDE: This is a corn-based additive for plastics that is being touted as being a safe, renewable alternative to BPA. (source: News for Corn Avoiders)

MODELING COMPOUNDS: These things (think, play-doughs and putties) can contain cornstarch. (source: News for Corn Avoiders)

NURSING PADS: Lining of “eco-friendly” brand(s) may be made from corn. (source: Corn-Free Lifestyle).  Safest option is washable, reusable ones made out of whatever fabrics you tolerate well.

ORGANIC FERTILIZER: Feathermeal is made from poultry feathers and can contain MSG (which can be derived from corn). Feathermeal can be found in animal feed and organic fertilizer; chard and spinach are often grown in it.

PAPER – ARTS & CRAFTS: Can contain corn-silk fibers. (source: Corn-Free Lifestyle)

PLASTIC: Corn can be chemically-inserted into plastic to make it more biodegradable. Corn can be used in adhesives. Plastic can have a cornstarch coating.

PLASTIC – SOFT, MALLEABLE: Can be coated with corn oil or cornstarch to help prevent cracking. (source: News for Corn Avoiders)

PRINTER’S INK: Can be made from corn. (source: Corn-Free Lifestyle)

SOIL AMENDMENTS: Can be derived from cornstarch (ex: Zeba, which can be used on food crops). (source: News for Corn Avoiders)

STUFFED ANIMALS / SOFT TOYS: The stuffing can be corny, as can the cloth of the toys. (source: News for Corn Avoiders)

SWIM FLOATIES/RINGS/FLOATS: Can contain a dusting of cornstarch inside to keep the item from sticking to itself. (source: News for Corn Avoiders)

TATTOOS: Tattoo ink consists of a pigment that imparts the color, and a carrier or base for the pigment to make it flow freely so that it can be injected into your dermis with the tattoo gun. The carrier for the ink is typically ethanol or glycerin. Ethanol can be from a number of things but is usually corn. Glycerin is usually from corn, soy, or palm. The pigments could be corny but usually are mineral based. It will be harder to find out about what is in the pigments than what the carrier is. You will need to get ahold of your artists ink supplier and get THEM to talk with you about the carrier, don’t expect your artist to know what’s in them.

In addition to that there are other parts of tattooing that can be corny.Read the Corntamination Post on Tattoos for more information.

TOILET PAPER: Can contain / be dusted with cornstarch. The adhesive at the beginning and ending of a roll can be “corny.”  Safest option is family cloth (washable) all others WILL contain corn.

TONER CARTRIDGES: “Eco-friendly” toner may be made with oils from corn, soy, and cotton seed. (source: Corn-Free Lifestyle)

VINYL – SOFT, MALLEABLE: Can be coated with corn oil or cornstarch to help prevent cracking. (source: News for Corn Avoiders)


ZEIN: Can be found as the water-insoluble coating on paper plates, paper cups, and cardboard cartons (ex: milk and juice containers). Can be extruded and rolled into a variety of plastic products. Could be used as a coating on disposable diapers, bed sheets, or tablecloths.May be used for soda bottles, plastic bags, foam cups, etc. New agricultural uses: as a mulch or fertilizer coating, or as an edible hay bale wrapper. New biomedical uses: as a component in tissue scaffolding needed for skin and bone regeneration. (one of my sources: http://www.vrg.org/blog/2010/12/13/zein-used-for-shellac-biodegradable-coatings-diapers%E2%80%A6/)

4 thoughts on “Where’s the Corn in Non-Food Products?

  1. I’m not sure if you have come across this company but I thought I would let you know what I found out about Propanediol made by DuPont Tate & Lyle BioProducts. Made from corn and they have Zemea® Propanediol which makes this for cosmetics and personal care, food and flavors, laundry and household cleaners and Pharmaceutical and Dietary Supplements. Susterra® Propanediol which can replace petroleum based propylene glycol. Some products made with this are Polyurethanes, Unsaturated Polyester Resins a huge amount of products under this, Heat transfer fluids, Solar and Geothermal systems, Low temperature food safe fluids, Engine coolants and Deicing fluids. Here is their website http://www.duponttateandlyle.com/. This link is a PDF that shows that it is all corn based. http://www.duponttateandlyle.com/sites/default/files/Susterra%20LCA.pdf

    Karen Harris

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. I KNEW about cornstarch in gloves, but had forgotten, and couldn’t figure out what had re-triggered my hand rashes. Duh: I’d used plastic gloves recently for very brief periods each time while doing paint touch-ups.

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