Hydrocolloid: Microcrystalline Cellulose - Cape Crystal Brands


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Microcrystalline Cellulose: The Refined Cellulose with Multifaceted Applications

Microcrystalline Cellulose (MCC), a purified form of cellulose, is renowned for its excellent compressibility and flow properties. But what sets this hydrocolloid apart, and how has it become a cornerstone in various formulations?

Historical Context 

The journey of MCC began in the mid-20th century when its potential as a pharmaceutical excipient was recognized. Its unique physical properties led to its rapid adoption in diverse industries.

The Molecular Science of Microcrystalline Cellulose

MCC is derived from cellulose, the most abundant organic polymer on Earth. It is produced by acid hydrolysis of cellulose, resulting in crystalline regions that give MCC its distinct characteristics.

Production and Refinement

The production of MCC involves treating cellulose with mineral acids, which breaks down the amorphous regions, leaving behind the crystalline segments. These are then washed, purified, and milled to produce MCC.

A Multifaceted Ingredient

MCC's versatility is evident in its wide range of applications:

  • Pharmaceuticals: Predominantly used as a binder and filler in tablet formulations.
  • Food Industry: Acts as a texturizer, bulking agent, and stabilizer in various food products.
  • Cosmetics: Used for its texturizing properties in personal care products.

Microcrystalline Cellulose in Culinary Creations - Proportions

MCC's role in culinary applications is primarily functional:

  • Baked Goods:
    • Proportion: 0.5% to 2% of the total weight.
    • Purpose: Improves texture and moisture retention.
  • Dairy Products:
    • Proportion: 0.2% to 1% of the total weight.
    • Purpose: Enhances mouthfeel and stability.


Microcrystalline Cellulose, with its exceptional physical properties, has solidified its position as a preferred ingredient in various sectors. Its ability to enhance texture, stability, and compressibility makes it indispensable in numerous formulations.

See: Hydrocolloid Glossary

For further reading: Hydroxypropylcellulose

                                  Cellulose Gum: Its Risk and Benefits


  • Rowe, R.C., et al. "Handbook of Pharmaceutical Excipients." Pharmaceutical Press, 2009.
  • Lourdin, D., & Colonna, P. "Extrusion Cooking of Starch and Starchy Products." Extrusion Cooking, 1994.

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