The Great Thickener Challenge

The Great Thickener Challenge

 So maybe it’s not really great, but it was a challenge. So what in the heck am I talking about??

 Have you ever looked at all those different brands of thickener? Sometimes you don’t know which will be the best for your patients. Between Thick-It, Simply Thick, Thick n Clear, ThickenUp it’s hard to decide which will be best for your patient. Maybe by best, we also need to think about the look, taste and consistency that will be the most palatable for your patient.

 I think we’ve all had those patients that just won’t drink because you put “that stuff” in their drinks. They’re family members say if they could just have a drink of something maybe they’ll feel better.

 There is a very nice product out there called the Provale cup. By limiting the amount of liquid a patient receives, either 5cc or 10cc, the patient may then be able to safely drink thin liquids. The Provale cup is for another post.

Going to conferences, particularly, the ASHA Convention, there are samples of thickener to go around. Nestle Nutrition also provides samples of ThickenUp free of charge. I decided that one day I would mix these samples with water, using the same container and method to mix, the same water and thicken the water to nectar consistency, just to see the variation.

I used 4 ounces of water from our cooler, which is purified water. I put the 4 ounces in a shaker and shook the water mixed with the pre-measured packet of thickener for nectar consistency. I shook for 30 seconds and then poured the liquid in a small cup.

 The liquids were allowed to sit our for 10 minutes then the taste test began.

The following are comments by patients, therapists and myself regarding each thickener, marked by number. I could only get 4 to sample the thickened drinks, which is not a significant number, but I’m not publishing this…..

1. Clear-bubbly


No added flavor



water with added flavor

no flavor

slightly sweet


tastes like water

looked good

Preferred by 4


2. Cloudy

Thick chalky tasting

left after taste

“looks thick”

thicker than #1

not bad

no flavor

very thick



looks terrible

tastes terrible

feels sticky

had to wait for sip


Preferred by 0


3. Cloudy



after taste


not palatable

tastes bad


thinner than 2

little thick

tastes-not too bad

looks bad


Preferred by 0


4. clear

slimy-coating after

flour taste


similar to #1

little thicker

looks good

too thick

after taste

sticking all over


Preferred by 0


5. clear

no over-powering flavor

no after taste



no flavor at all

looks ok

went down ok

no taste


Preferred by 0


6. cloudy


starchy taste



worst thing seen or tasted


Preferred by 0


7. cloudy

thick and clumpy

starchy taste


spit back out

too thick

tastes/looks terrible


Preferred by 0

There were many variations including the yield, the color varied from clear to cloudy. The consistency differed from a honey consistency to a slightly thicker than thin consistency.

The results:

 #1 Simply Thick



#2 Thick It



#3 Thick It 2



#4 Thik and Clear



#5 Thicken Up Clear



#6 Thicken Up


 #7 Thick and Easy




 By a landslide, all 4 people chose Simply Thick as the best during this challenge.

 Everyone should challenge themselves to get as many thickener samples as they can.  Try those thickeners and determine the quality of the thickeners so that you can make an educated recommendation for your patients to increase their willingness to comply with the liquids and to provide them with the best quality thickener available.

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