Up until now, we talked about chitosan. Today, I would like to touch upon “chitin.”
Needless to say, chitin is made from crab shells, chiefly red snow crab. The shell of red snow crab consists of 30% chitin, 30% proteins, 30% calcium carbonate and the remaining 10% is water.
The use of this particular crab was inspired by the famous “crab flavored fish sausage.” Crab flavored fish sausages are seasoned with hot water-extracted seasonings from crab shells. The remaining crab shells were used as fertilizers and feeds. People started to explore value-added ways of using them. That was how the study on chitosan was launched.
Previously, I mentioned that chitosan is a long chain of D-glucosamine. Chitin, on the other hand, is a long chain of N-acetyl glucosamine. Because both D-glucosamine and N-acetyl glucosamine are sugars, chitosan and chitin are called polysaccharides because they are long chains of sugars.
n fact, chitin is the second most abundant polysaccharide on earth, and is contained in shellfish such as shrimp and crab, insect integument, mushroom and fungi. This is just an aside, but the famous Stradivarius violins are coated with a coating material that contains chitin extracted from insects. No wonder that these violins can produce beautiful sound.
Oh, I forgot to mention that the most abundant polysaccharide on earth is cellulose (contained in trees).