Hydroxypropyl cellulose

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A cellulose ether with a hydroxypropyl functional group substitution. Hydroxypropyl cellulose (HPC) is a nonionic thermoplastic polymer that is soluble in water as well as many organic solvents. Hydroxypropyl cellulose is used as an Emulsifier, Stabilizer, thickener, and film former in many types of solutions such as foods, cosmetics, paint removers, paints and glazes. It is also used as a sizing agent for Paper and consolidant for Leather. While HPC has good photochemical stability, it has poor thermal stability and discolors with age. Although the low molecular weight products, such as Klucel® G, performed better than the high molecular weight products, such as Klucel® M, testing indicates that HPC polymers should not be considered for long term use (Feller and Wilt 1990).

Synonyms and Related Terms

hidroxipropilcelulosa (Esp.); hidroxipropilcelulose (Port.); HPC; hydroxypropylcellulose; cellulose 2-hydroxypropyl ether; oxypropylated cellulose

Examples: Klucel® [Aqualon]


  • Combustible.
  • Fisher Scientific: MSDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Soluble in cold water, ethanol, acetone and many organic solvents. Insoluble in hot water.
  • pH = 5.0-8.5.
  • Softening point = 130C.
  • CAS = 9004-64-2
  • Refractive Index = 1.56


General Characteristics of Polymers

Physical Properties for Selected Thermoplastic Resins

Resources and Citations

  • R.Feller, M.Wilt, Evaluation of Cellulose Ethers for Conservation, in Research in Conservation Series, Getty Conservation Institute, 1990, p.94.
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry #4888
  • Book and Paper Group, Paper Conservation Catalog, AIC, 1984, 1989