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Carboxymethyl Cellulose: An Overview of its Properties and Applications

Views: 0     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-07-10      Origin: Site


Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) is a versatile and widely used polymer derived from cellulose, a natural polysaccharide found in the cell walls of plants. CMC is synthesized by chemically modifying cellulose with carboxymethyl groups, resulting in a water-soluble compound with unique properties. This article provides an overview of CMC, including its structure, properties, and various applications in different industries.

Structure and Properties: 

The chemical modification of cellulose with carboxymethyl groups introduces negative charges, making CMC highly soluble in water. The degree of substitution (DS), which indicates the number of carboxymethyl groups per glucose unit, determines the solubility and viscosity of CMC. Generally, higher DS values lead to increased solubility and viscosity. CMC molecules have a linear structure, with long chains that can form entangled networks, contributing to their thickening and stabilizing properties.


  1. Food Industry: CMC finds extensive use in the food industry due to its ability to modify texture, stabilize emulsions, and control moisture. It is commonly employed as a thickener, binder, and stabilizer in various food products such as ice creams, sauces, dressings, and baked goods. CMC also acts as a fat replacer, enhancing the mouthfeel and reducing calorie content in low-fat or reduced-fat food formulations.

  2. Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products: In pharmaceuticals, CMC is utilized as a binder in tablet formulations, providing cohesion and improving tablet disintegration. It is also present in ophthalmic solutions and topical gels for its mucoadhesive properties. In personal care products, CMC serves as a thickening agent in lotions, creams, and toothpaste, imparting desired viscosity and stability.

  3. Paper and Textile Industry: CMC is extensively used in the paper industry as a coating agent, improving the paper's strength, printability, and water retention properties. It also acts as a dispersant for pigments and fillers. In the textile industry, CMC is employed as a sizing agent to improve yarn strength and reduce breakage during weaving.

  4. Oil and Gas Drilling: CMC plays a crucial role in oil and gas drilling operations. It is added to drilling fluids to control viscosity, suspend solids, and prevent fluid loss. CMC helps in maintaining wellbore stability and reducing friction during drilling processes.

  5. Other Applications: CMC finds applications in various other industries, including detergents, ceramics, paints, and adhesives. In detergents, it acts as a soil suspending agent, preventing dirt from redepositing on fabrics. In ceramics, CMC is utilized as a binder for shaping clay bodies and providing green strength.


Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) is a versatile polymer with a wide range of applications in numerous industries. Its unique properties, such as solubility, viscosity, and thickening capabilities, make it an indispensable ingredient in various products. From food and pharmaceuticals to paper and textiles, CMC plays a vital role in enhancing product performance and quality. As research and development continue, new applications for CMC are likely to emerge, further expanding its utility in diverse fields.