Carboxymethyl cellulose(cellulose gum, cellulose,carboxymethyl ether or CMC) is a versatile, cost-effective and easy-to-use thickening agent that has numerous industrial applications. It is a substance commonly found in many household products, from certain foods to hair gels and laxatives. Cellulose gum is a key ingredient that helps maintain certain characteristics such as stabilizing a dough product, providing thickness to a gel or helping to keep two liquids mixed together. Most importantly, CMC has been shown to be safe in all of its applications.
Carboxymethyl cellulose(CAS number:9000-11-7) is registered by the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) of the American Chemical Society. Its CAS number is 9004-32-4. Its chemical formula is C6H7O2(OH)2OCH2COONa. It dissolves easily in both cold and hot water. It appears as a fibrous, grainy, white powder that has good thermal stability enzyme resistance, emulsification and stickiness.
CMC is farmed from trees and cotton and is therefore readily renewable, abundant and cheap. According to R. Sinha in the book “Outlines of Polymer Technology: Manufacture of Polymers,” the chemcial was first produced in 1917 and commercially manufactured in the 1930s. In “Twinkie, Deconstructed,” author Steve Ettlinger notes that CMC will absorb 15 to 20 times its starting weight when combined with water.
Been mentioned in Danisco.com, carboxymethyl cellulose is used mostly in the food and beverage industry in applications such as frozen dough, juices, concentrated beverages, dressings, soups, ice cream, processed cheeses, fruit preparation and emulsified meat products.
According to Alan Imeson in the book “Food Stabilisers, Thickeners and Gelling Agents,” cellulose gum is helpful in stabilizing the pH of protein beverages. It is also used to maintain the sweetness of high-sugar food substances such as fondants, frostings and syrups. It controls the growth of ice crystals in frozen desserts and ice cream.
Cellulose gum is used in oilfield drilling liquids and personal care products (toothpaste, hair gel, shampoo, lotions and ointments) and in some medicines such as laxatives and antacids. The textile industry uses cellulose gum in the production of ceramics and paper. Crude product is used on a smaller scale in laundry detergents.
Because cellulose,carboxymethyl ether passes through the human’s digestive system intact and provides no negative side effects, it can be considered completely safe. One of the testaments to the safety aspect of cellulose gum is its increasingly popular use as an ingredient in foods and beverages. It is able to provide necessary characteristics to many foods and beverages without harming the body.