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Common Names

  • Cellulose Gum
  • CMC
  • Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose


  • Thickener
  • Clarify
  • Film Formation


  • Viscosity
  • Particle Size

Applications for CMC

Cellulose Gum is a powerful cost-effective cold water-soluble thickening hydrocolloid. The size of the cellulose polymers influences some of the rheological characteristics in water. These include a resistance to flow, surface tension, wettability and formation of stable thin films. Low molecular weight grades deliver limited viscosity and are used to manage moisture to extend shelf life in baked goods and aid in freeze-thaw stability. The clarity of solutions is leveraged in products such as table syrups and beverage flavor syrups. Although the raw material cellulose is very resistant to destruction, cellulose gum is less stable at pH levels under 4.0 and through extreme shear exposure in processing. Like Xanthan Gum, Cellulose Gum exhibits shear thinning behavior but the recovery time for viscosity return is slower than for Xanthan. Products may thin the processing of products and require time at rest in the package to reach their final recovered thickness. Also, like Xanthan Gum, lump formation can be an issue when using Cellulose Gum. To help mitigate this issue, several grades of powder particle size are available to provide options based on production mixing capabilities. As a result of the modification process, Cellulose Gum is sensitive to concentrated acid addition which can result in polymer breakage and reduction in viscosity. Cellulose Gum is only available in standard grade.

Botanical Sources

The cellulose raw materials used in the manufacture of chemically modified Cellulose Gum are byproducts of the wood, paper and textile industries. These source cellulose fibers are of varied lengths, which result in modified Cellulose Gums with different thickening functionalities.

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Polymer Chemistry

The cellulose raw material is a simple glucose chain with B (1-4) bonds. These chains interact with other chains through hydrogen bonds to form microfibrils with very high tensile strength. This strength, in combination with the lignin matrix, delivers the cell wall strength for the wood and cotton fibers. These fibers are also chemically resistant and insoluble in water. These fibers are treated with alkali and reacted to produce water-soluble polymers with substitutions of carboxymethyl groups distributed along the glucose backbone. The functionality of the resulting Cellulose Gum is influenced by: the length of the backbone chain, the degree of substitution (how many carboxymethyl groups have been added along the chain), and the degree of clustering of the substitutions.

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