Methyl Hydroxyethyl Cellulose
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Methyl hydroxyethyl cellulose (MHEC) is a water-soluble polymer derived from cellulose, a natural polymer found in plant cell walls. It is chemically modified with methyl and hydroxyethyl groups, resulting in a compound with unique properties suitable for various industrial applications. 

Description of methyl hydroxyethyl cellulose

Chemical Structure: 

Methyl hydroxyethyl cellulose is synthesized by substituting hydroxyl groups of cellulose molecules with both methyl (-CH3) and hydroxyethyl (-CH2CH2OH) groups. This modification enhances its solubility in water and alters its physical and chemical properties.

Physical Properties: 

MHEC is typically supplied as a white or off-white powder with a fine, granular texture. It is odorless and tasteless, making it suitable for use in formulations where sensory properties are important. MHEC exhibits excellent water solubility, forming clear and viscous solutions when dissolved in water.

Functionality of methyl hydroxyethyl cellulose


MHEC acts as a thickening agent, increasing the viscosity of aqueous solutions and providing body and texture to products such as paints, adhesives, and personal care formulations.

Water Retention: 

It improves the water retention properties of materials, preventing rapid drying and enhancing workability in applications such as tile adhesives, cementitious mortars, and gypsum-based plasters.

Film Formation: 

MHEC can form clear and flexible films when dried, making it suitable for use in coatings, paints, and printing inks to enhance adhesion and durability.


It stabilizes emulsions and suspensions, preventing phase separation and maintaining product consistency over time.

Controlled Release: 

In pharmaceutical formulations, MHEC can be used as a matrix former for controlled release drug delivery systems, providing sustained release of active ingredients.

Applications of methyl hydroxyethyl cellulose


It is used in cementitious products such as tile adhesives, grouts, and renderings to improve workability, water retention, and adhesion.

Paints and Coatings: 

MHEC is incorporated into water-based paints, primers, and coatings to adjust viscosity, improve application properties, and enhance film formation.

Personal Care: 

It is employed in cosmetics, shampoos, lotions, and creams as a thickening agent, emulsifier, and stabilizer to improve product texture and stability.


MHEC is used in pharmaceutical formulations as a binder, thickener, and sustained-release matrix in tablets, capsules, ointments, and suspensions.


Methyl hydroxyethyl cellulose is generally regarded as safe (GRAS) for use in food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic applications when used within specified limits. It is non-toxic, non-irritating, and biocompatible, with minimal risk of adverse effects.

In summary, methyl hydroxyethyl cellulose is a versatile polymer with diverse applications in various industries, offering valuable properties such as thickening, water retention, film formation, and stabilization. Its widespread use contributes to the functionality and performance of numerous products in construction, coatings, personal care, and pharmaceuticals.

Methyl hydroxyethyl cellulose (MHEC) is a white, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic powder that is used as a thickening and emulsifying agent.

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