Plants growing on earth contribute a lot of cellulose as an organic polymer. The main cell wall of the plant contains a cellulose structure where the cotton fiber content can reach 90%. It is the forerunner of the main feedstock for a large number of semisynthetic cellulose derivatives. This cotton fiber can produce cellulose ether which can be used for various industries ranging from facial care products, body care, hair care, medicines, cosmetics, building construction, and many more.
Commercially traded cellulose ether derivatives include carboxymethyl cellulose, hydroxyl propyl cellulose, hydroxyethylcellulose, and methylcellulose. You will always find this cellulose ether derivative in the products you consume at home, from body soap, eyewash, butter to the mortar you use to glue tiles together during building renovations.
Where Do Cellulose Ether Derivatives Come From?
Nature has provided abundant cellulose ether. Wood pulp or commonly known as cotton fiber will be treated with sodium hydroxide solution. Then alkaline cellulose will be treated with alkyl halides. Both of these processes can produce ethyl cellulose and hydrogen propyl cellulose.
Next, cellulose ether derivatives are derived from the methylsulfate treatment for processing methylcellulose. Methylcellulose and ethyl cellulose are the two most important modified cellulose polymers. Methylcellulose is the simplest cellulose ether derivative in that it has the property of a non-ionic polymer that dissolves in water when exposed to heat. When there is moisture in the container, the methylcellulose will maintain its strength and will not become sticky.
It is the forerunner of polymer films that are widely used for various industries because of their excellent strength reaching 60-74 MPa, low elongation of only 5 to 15% at room temperature, is a good solvent, and has resistance to ultraviolet light and oil. This water-soluble film is widely used as a binding agent, thickening agent, water retention agent, and film-forming agent.
Methylcellulose is found in many products such as toothpaste, bread dough, coatings, medical capsules, bath foam, rat poison, detergent powder, ceramic tile adhesive, wallpaper adhesive, cosmetic formulation, shampoo, and other products that are adjusted for viscosity and water solubility.
Methylcellulose, together with carboxymethyl, hydroxyethylcellulose, and ethyl, are widely used as thickeners in various food products. Another commercial cellulose ether derivative is ethylcellulose which has excellent strength at room temperature.
There is one cellulose ether derivative known as an eye lubricant. This is HPMC which can treat dry and irritated eyes. Eye drops that doctors often prescribe contain hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, where this drug functions as an eye lubricant. HPMC is also known as hypromellose. Minor eye problems such as irritation and dry eyes due to staring at a computer screen too long or lack of tears to serious eye problems such as inflammatory disorders of the cornea can be overcome with the therapy of the drug hydroxypropyl methylcellulose.
HPMC levels introduced into the eye drop solution are usually 0.3 to 1%. Although the levels are quite small, HPMC is very good as a treatment for the eyes according to particular conditions such as irritation and dry eyes. Hypromellose given is generally only one to two drops in a single use.
In other cases, such as gonioscopy procedures, these eye drops contain a concentration of 2.5% HPMC. The application of HPMC drugs to the eye is easy. You only need to shake this eye medication bottle before use. After that, you can remove your contact lenses or glasses. Close the eye drop bottle cap as soon as possible after use.
Stabilizer and Emulsifier
One of the highly respected cellulose ether derivatives in the food industry is CMC. It is an odorless, tasteless, biodegradable, anionic, hygroscopic cellulose polymer ether with a white-yellowish color that is nontoxic. Carboxymethyl cellulose is useful as an emulsifier and stabilizer.
CMC can be synthesized from plant cellulose such as cotton. Due to the increasing demand for CMC worldwide every year, many food manufacturers are turning to factory-made CMC.
Factory-made CMC is in the form of a white powder that can be used directly in food dough. There will be no change in taste as long as you use CMC powder. You can rest easy using one of these cellulose ether derivatives to produce your food. We can suggest you buy CMC products from a manufacturer that is focused on producing cellulose ether and has obtained ISO certification and other international standard certifications. What do you want to make? Are dairy products such as yogurt, syrup, gel foods, granulated sugar, crystals food, and other sweet treats? Rest your dough on the addition of CMC.