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Why Does Gum Turn Black on the Sidewalk? (A Simple Explanation)

Why Does Gum Turn Black on the Sidewalk? (A Simple Explanation)

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Black dots all around the sidewalks! This is what you see as you navigate through a lot of US streets. And the main culprit of this unsightly appearance is discarded chewing gum and a few other substances.

So, if you’re among the many people wondering, “Why does gum turn black on the sidewalk?” Here’s the answer!

Chewing gum turns black on the sidewalk because it’s not biodegradable and can remain stuck on concrete for years. During this time, it accumulates dust and dirt. And consequently, it turns black.

In this post, we’ll explain this phenomenon comprehensively. We’ll also provide the best ways to remove gum pieces from your sidewalk.

The Reason Why Gum Turns Black on the Sidewalk

Most discarded chewing gum pieces aren’t biodegradable and don’t break down over time.

Instead, they remain stuck to the sidewalk’s surface from the moment they’re thrown onto it until someone removes them.

During this extended period, chewing gum pieces experience many conditions that transform them into a dark mess.

For starters, direct exposure to sunlight removes all the moisture from the gum.

Also, when pedestrians step on chewing gum pieces, they get squashed and adhere even more to the sidewalk. Some dirt on the pedestrians’ shoe soles also transfers to the gum surface.

In addition, gum pieces’ sticky texture makes them a perfect environment for collecting dust and pollution from the surrounding.

The ultimate outcome is black, hideous spots firmly adhered to sidewalks.

Why Should You Consider Removing Chewing Gum From Sidewalks?

The most obvious reason to remove discarded chewing gum pieces is that they look awful and distort the sidewalk’s appearance.

However, this isn’t the only reason to consider removing chewing gum from your sidewalk. Here are three other important reasons:

  1. Discarded gums create a breeding environment for bacteria, making them hazardous to pedestrians’ health.
  2. They also pose a health risk to the residents of the surrounding properties.
  3. The presence of these gums encourages more people to litter the sidewalk. This is because people are more likely to pollute an already messy place.

How to Get Rid of the Gum on Your Sidewalk

There are plenty of ways to remove the gum pieces adhered to your sidewalk. However, a lot of these methods aren’t effective enough to completely remove chewing gum and its stains.

There are only a few reliable methods to achieve satisfying results. Here are they:

Scraping with a Razor or a Knife: Best for Recently Stuck Gum Pieces

This method works best for gum pieces that have recently adhered to the sidewalk. However, for firmly stuck gum pieces, this approach might leave remnants after scraping them away.

The approach can also be helpful in cleaning a small section of the sidewalk in front of your house. Nonetheless, it might not be practical if you plan to clean a long sidewalk.

To remove the chewing gum pieces, you’ll use ice cubes and either a razor, a wire brush, or a putty knife.

Once you have the required items follow these few steps:

  1. Place an ice cube on each gum.
  2. Allow the ice a few minutes to freeze the gum.
  3. When the gum becomes hard, use a putty knife to scrape it off.

Comprehensive Removal: Best for Firmly Stuck Gum Pieces

This approach requires slightly more effort and a higher cost than the previous method. However, it yields excellent results in removing firmly adhered gum pieces.

The best time to use this method is when the sidewalk is almost empty. So, if possible, try to perform this task after midnight.

To remove chewing gum spots from the sidewalk, you’ll need the following:

  • Putty knife
  • Hammer
  • Toothbrush
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Compressed air spray
  • Lubricant spray

Once you have all the required items, follow these steps to obliterate the chewing gum:

  1. Spray the pieces of gum with compressed air to freeze them.
  2. Slide the putty knife under each piece and scrape it. You might need to hammer the knife if the gum is stubborn.
  3. After removing the gum, apply the lubricant spray to its remnants. Allow the spray a few minutes to effectively penetrate the residual gum.
  4. Use the putty knife to scrape off the remnants.
  5. Spray the white vinegar over the remaining stains. Wait for a few minutes until the vinegar soaks into them.
  6. Use the toothbrush to scrape the stains off the concrete.

Pressure Washing Services: For Quick Cleaning of Large Areas

The two previously mentioned methods are impractical for cleaning a large sidewalk. They’d require a considerable amount of time to complete.

That way, if you need to clean a large sidewalk, your best solution is to contact professional pressure cleaners for help.

These service providers have all the necessary equipment to remove stubborn stuck gum pieces and eliminate any traces.

Even better, their services are incredibly efficient. They can complete all the work in just a few hours.

What Can Cause Black Stains on Sidewalks Other than Gum?

In addition to chewing gum, other culprits can contribute to the unsightly black spots on sidewalks. Here are the most common ones:

  • Coffee and cola spills
  • Tree sap
  • Cigarette ash
  • Mold
  • Fertilizer pellet

Final Thoughts

By now, the answer to “Why does gum turn black on the sidewalk?” is clear!

Discarded gum doesn’t break down over time. It stays stuck to the sidewalk for years, collecting dust and dirt. That’s why it appears in this dark, unsightly manner.

Given that, if you want to remove the gum spots from your sidewalk, you can refer to the methods mentioned above for guidance.

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