Hydroxypropyl cellulose (HPC), or hydroxypropylcellulose, also referred to its abbreviation HPC. It is made from cellulose and used as a thickening agent in food or pharma.

As HPC has a large number of hydroxypropoxy groups than L-HPC, this making HPC soluble in water while L-HPC is not. Due to this characteristic, HPC can be used in aqueous solution whereas L-HPC cannot.

Let’s see the details.


It is cellulose obtained directly from strains of fibrous plant material and partially etherified with hydroxypropyl groups. HPC can be used as an emulsifier, film former, protective colloid, stabilizer, suspending agent, or thickener in food, may be also used as a binder in dietary supplements.

The following is hydroxypropoxyl groups specification of HPC:

Assay: Not more than 80.5 %

Numbers:Not more than 4.6 per anhydroglucose unit

Average Numbers:3.5 hydroxypropoxy groups per anhydroglucose unit

Molecular Weight:From about 30,000 to 1,000,000

What are the Uses of Hydroxypropyl Cellulose?

As mentioned above, HPC can be used in food as a thickener, emulsifier and stabilizer in food and cosmetics; while L-HPC is commonly used in pharmaceuticals as a disintegrant and binder for tablets.


Precooked Food

HPC preserves the freshness for hamburger, pizza, chicken and other foods by spraying it on the surface of these foods before cooking. And it can quickly disintegrate within 3 minutes during cooking. 


HPC functions as a stabilizer in ice cream and frozen milk to prolong the storage period and improve the overflow; It is used as a coating for chocolate and prevents the chocolate from softening, oxidation and mold when stored in a frozen temperature.

Treating Dry Eyes

Hydroxypropyl cellulose is an ingredient in many prescriptions for treating dry eyes and other eye disorders, such as keratitis, decreased corneal sensitivity. 

Personal Care

Per the “European Commission database for information on cosmetic substances and ingredients”, HPC can work as a binding, emulsifying, emulsion stabilising, film forming, and viscosity controlling agent in cosmetic and personal care products. (3)



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