Hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose

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A cellulose ether with both methyl and hydroxypropyl functional group substitutions. Hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose (HPMC) is a nonionic thermoplastic polymer that dissolves in water to produce a solutions with a wide range in viscosity. It has greater gelling capacity than hydroxypropyl cellulose (HPC) and is more tolerant to salts and additives. HPMC is used as a thickening agent, stabilizer, emulsifier and film forming agent. Aging studies indicate that HPMC has very good stability with negligible discoloration or weight loss (Feller and Wilt 1990).

Synonyms and Related Terms

hidroxipropilmetilcelulosa (Esp.); hidroxipropilmetilcelulose (Port.); HPMC; hydroxypropylmethylcellulose; cellulose 2-hydroxypropyl methyl ether; propylene glycol ether; hypromellose

Examples: Gonak; Goniosol; Lacril; Methocel [Dow]; Ultra Tears


  • Combustible.

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Soluble in cold water to produce a clear viscous colloidal solution.
  • Insoluble in hot water, anhydrous ethanol, ether or chloroform.

Resources and Citations

  • R.Feller, M.Wilt, Evaluation of Cellulose Ethers for Conservation, in Research in Conservation Series, Getty Conservation Institute, 1990, p. 95.
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Richard C. Wolbers, Nanette T. Sterman, Chris Stavroudis, Notes for Workshop on New Methods in the Cleaning of Paintings, J.Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles, 1990
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 4889
  • Teri Hensick, contributed information, 1998

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