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[C6H7O2(OH)3,x(OCH3)x]n, a methyl ether of cellulose. The type most widely used in industry is water-soluble methyl cellulose (degree of substitution γ, 140–200;—OCH3 group content, 23.5–33.0 percent); an odorless and tasteless white solid. Density, 1.29–1.31 g/cm3; melting point, 290°−305°C .
Methyl cellulose is prepared commercially by reacting alkali cellulose with methyl chloride, CH3C1. It is used mainly in the manufacture of adhesives for foam plastic (expanded plastic), leather, and wallpaper, as well as in the production of water-soluble packing film and emulsion paints; it serves as a stabilizer in aqueous-fatty emulsions in cosmetics manufacture, as a preservative in ice cream, and as a thickening agent in juices. Methyl cellulose is also used in medicine for the preparation of capsules, as a fat-free base for eye drops and ointments, and as an ingredient in laxatives.