Broadly speaking, cellulose gum powder is a versatile thickener that has a wide application across many industries. Food, paper, chemicals, dyeing and printing industries use carboxymethyl cellulose either in the form of cellulose gum powder or gum paste to aid in the manufacturing process.
Before discussing the various uses of CMC, let’s see what it is made of and how it was introduced into the food industry.
Pure cotton cellulose and wood pulp are the chief sources from which cellulose can be extracted. There are two types of cellulose gum, food-grade and industrial-grade. The purity of the industrial grade CMC ranges from 80% to 95%. However, the one that’s used in food products has a purity of 99.5% all the while adhering to the FCC IV Standards in quality and stability.
Uses of Carboxymethyl cellulose or CMC powder
1. Ice cream powder - The compound acts as a stabilizer in producing milk, yoghurt, baked goods, ice creams, drinks and syrups. The ice cream industry is one of the chief users of cellulose gum powder. It helps to stabilize the mixture of fat, water, and protein. The end product is evenly spread out and prevents the formation of ice crystals on the surface of the ice cream.
This not only enhances the overall flavour of the ice cream but also adds structure and formidability to the product. So, when you leave a bucket of ice cream out in the open it doesn’t get soggy, it’s probably due to the cellulose that’s working its magic.
2. Fruit juices - In fruit juices, the gum powder performs the role of a suspending agent and cover the surface of fruits. CMC helps to bring down the overall cost of manufacturing beverages and juices by a great margin. Thanks to its stabilizing properties these contribute a lot in terms of flavour and longevity.
3. Medicine - Medicinal gels for thoracic, cornea, and heart surgery use CMC solutions as their base. For instance, in thorax operations, CMC prevents the leak of fluid and air from the lungs when they are stapled together during operations.
It is even used to lubricate the hips, knee, and wrist joints. These are injected directly into the respective joints to prevent erosion in people who are suffering due to old age or individuals suffering from arthritis. It prevents the possible swelling and, in extreme cases, destruction of the cartilage that’s attached to the bones.
4. Pharmaceuticals - Did you know that not all tablets are dissolved in your stomach? Some travel as far as the intestines before they are broken down by your body. CMC coated tablets with low viscosity and high purity is used to coat tablets. Usually, these are insoluble in the acidic environment of the stomach. However, once these reach the intestines, it disintegrates under the influence of the basic medium.
This little property helps it to transport the medicines to any reachable parts within the body.
5. Baking good - Even the baking industry is not alien to the use of CMC in their products. It saves cost and increases the overall volume of the product. CMC also helps to keep the food products tender and fresh, while improving the texture, quality, and overall flavour.