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Here's another long, brain-numbing post, this time on Methyl Cellulose.
Methyl cellulose (MC) is a synthetically produced polymer adhesive derived from cellulose (wood or straw). It is a white powder that dissolves in cold water (but not in hot), forming a clear gel that can be thinned or thickened as you require. Some people have best results mixing it the night before they need it. It is not toxic, not digestible, and not an allergen, and is resistant to bacterial growth. You can store it (mixed) in the refrigerator or freezer.
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From Wade A., Weller P.J. (eds) Handbook of Pharmaceutical Compounding: "Methyl cellulose occurs as practically odorless and tasteless, white to yellowish-white granules or powder. The pH of a 1% w/v solution is in the range of 5.5 to 8.0. Its angle of repose is about 40 degrees to 50 degrees and it is hygroscopic. It swells and disperses slowly in cold water to form a clear-to-opalescent, viscous, colloidal dispersion. The viscosity is increased with increased concentrations. The viscosity decreases with increased temperatures to about 50 degrees to 60 degrees Celsius, where gel formation occurs. The thermogelation is reversible when the viscous solution reforms upon cooling." Just in case you wanted to know.
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Sometimes it is spelled methylcellulose, occasionally 'methocellulose'. Other forms are carbomethyl cellulose, ethyl cellulose and Hydroxypropyl cellulose, all in a wide array of strengths for different uses. Just keep it simple and look for methyl cellulose. Some websites can’t get ANY of the spellings correct, so you might have luck with just ‘cellulose’.
Not only does MC have many uses, it also comes with many names, which can make it hard to find. Even if you look at a product’s MSDS (Material & Safety Data Sheet), some companies can hide what it is because it’s not toxic. Look in the arts/crafts, cake decorating, the wallcoverings dept, and pharmaceuticals.
For our purposes (PM) methyl cellulose is a mild glue which can be washed away with water, if necessary. It may be used in the fixation of delicate pieces of art as well as in book conservation to loosen and clean off old glue from spines and bookboards. It is also used as sizing in the production of papers and textiles to protect them from absorbing water or oil. Methyl cellulose dries clear.
It is also the main ingredient in many wallpaper pastes that are labeled as ‘cellulose’ types. Other common types of wallpaper adhesives are wheat (flour)-based, and some contain clay or vinyl, so look closely; as far as I can tell, if it doesn’t say ‘cellulose’, it isn’t. ‘Made from plant material’ might be cellulose, but it might also be wheat flour. If they’re too coy to tell you what they’re trying to sell you, it’s their loss.
As another prospective source, it’s used as a digestive tool, used to treat constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. When ingested, it isn’t absorbed by the intestines but passes through the digestive tract undisturbed, yet attracting large amounts of water into the colon, producing a softer stool. (Too much info?) A trade name of it when used like this is Citrucel (dyed and flavored), but generic versions are also available. It is available in pharmaceutical departments without prescription.
In addition to its nontoxic, nonallergenic, and edible properties, it is frequently used in horror movies when large amounts of slime are needed for special effects. Hey, is this stuff multi-purpose or what? But remember that it is SLIPPERY—spill it on the floor and step in it, and you’ll see just HOW slippery! We don't need to discuss how I know this...
It’s called Tylose Powder where you can find professional cake decorating supplies, about $4.50 for 2 oz, not bad (2 oz makes about a quart or litre).
In the bookbinding and art world, two of the most famous brands are Lineco Methyl Cellulose Adhesive and Elmer’s Art Paste. Both of these are available in small amounts from Dick Blick (http://www.dickblick.com/) in the U.S. Of the two, Lineco (1.5 oz for $9.88, or $105.32/lb) is expensive. Elmer’s Art Paste (2 oz for $3.08, or $24.64/lb) is the same thing, but apparently the Dick Blick company doesn’t want to point that out, since they're selling Lineco at four times the price. As of 12-16-2017, U.S. Amazon is also selling a 3-pack of Elmer's Art Paste (2 oz each)for only $5.87 (+shpg).
Dharma Trading Co. is a good source for larger amounts (8oz and up), it's been around for many years: https://www.dharmatrading.com/chemicals … ulose.html Very good bulk prices here.
As Sodium Carbo Methyl Cellulose at https://www.universityproducts.com/meth … sive.html, $28/per pound.
Henkel’s Metylan Clear Cellulose Adhesive by Henkel is available through Amazon, but the price is outrageous: 8 oz for $55. Go to Dharma Trading Co. and get it for almost a quarter of that price.
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I came across a list of producers and brands in many parts of the world. This is not a complete list, because some of them think it’s clever to be coy about listing their ingredients. Also, they’re stupid because they’re probably missing a lot of sales; the only other group of dimwits who can surpass some business people for stupidity are politicians. But I am digressing…
England: Bartoline, makers of Bartoline and Modus adhesives.
England: Polycell, makers of Paste The Wall Adhesive
Finland: Noviant, makers of Cellufix.
Germany: Henkel, makers of Metylan and Solvite brand wallpaper adhesives. Here’s their product that is most useful for papier mache: http://en.henkel-mea.com/cps/rde/xchg/h … 000001FA8R
Germany: Kalle, makers of Glutolin and Glutozell wallpaper adhesives.
Germany: Pufa (http://www.pufas.com/ ), makers of MC Tapeten-kleister Instant. Website is in German, use the Google translator)
The Netherlands (and worldwide): Akzo Nobel Decorative Coatings Ltd: Makers of Gabrosa brand NA CMC (Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose) cellulose adhesive.
The Netherlands: Avebe, makers of SOLVITOSE cellulose adhesive.
The Netherlands: Novidan, makers of both cellulose and wheat adhesives.
Poland (and worldwide): Legocol.
Sweden: Ecofix AB, makers of Ecofix, an environmentally friendly wallpaper adhesive.
Turkey: Aciselsan: Makers of ASEL brand NA CMC (Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose) cellulose adhesive.
If you know of others, many people around the world would appreciate if you would post the name of the company, the specific name of the product, and the country where you are likely to find it.
Wow! I love all this great info! Thanks Sue.
I don't think this store was mentioned, but Talas sells methyl cellulose in the US (Brooklyn, NY) at a great price.
Talas homepage: http://www.talasonline.com/
Synthetic adhesives page (lists several types of cellulose and more):
http://apps.bnt.com/ecom/catalog/produc … FullID=105
Methyl Cellulose page:
Hope this is helpful!
Last edited by Rob (2016-02-07 02:43:02)
Rob, thank you very much! I'm adding Talas to my Favorites list. Their price for plain methyl cellulose is the best I've seen.
Thank you again Sue for sharing all your knowledge and research with us.
Funnily enough, I recently received an email from a UK supplier. I will cut and paste his email here:
I noticed in some of your posted questions that some of your members were looking for CMC.
We are agents for a German manufacturer, and can supply CMC (Carboxymethyl cellulose) for Papier Mache or glaze stabilisation.
We can also offer cellulose fibre for Paper Clay and Papier Mache applications, as well as PVA adhesive. We have stocks in our Newark, UK, warehouse, and can offer anything from a few grams to a few tons.
Please feel free to direct any interested parties to us.
If you need more information, please ask.
Many thanks in advance.
Craigowl Services Ltd
tel 01636 626050
So there you go...any Brits looking for the elusive compound?
You're welcome Sue! I've used both the plain methyl cellulose as well as ethulose (both ordered from Talas). They both work very well for papier mache. Extremely well if mixed with a little PVA.
It's worth noting that it's worthwhile keeping your CMC and PVA separate until you are ready to use the paste. That way, if the CMC dries out it can be reconstituted with water. Once it is combined with PVA this will no longer be possible.
I never thought of that, David. Thank you!