Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium

Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium

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Carboxymethylcellulose sodium occurs as a white to almost white, odorless, tasteless, granular powder. It is hygroscopic after drying.

Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium

Nonproprietary Names

  • BP: Carmellose Sodium
  • JP: Carmellose Sodium
  • PhEur: Carmellose Sodium
  • USP: Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium

Akucell; Aqualon CMC; Aquasorb; Blanose; Carbose D; carmellosum natricum; Cel-O-Brandt; cellulose gum; Cethylose; CMC sodium; E466; Finnfix; Glykocellan; Nymcel ZSB; SCMC; sodium carboxymethylcellulose; sodium cellulose glycolate; Sunrose; Tylose CB; Tylose MGA; Walocel C; Xylo-Mucine.

Chemical Name and CAS Registry Number: Cellulose, carboxymethyl ether, sodium salt [9004-32-4]

Empirical Formula and Molecular Weight: The USP 32 describes carboxymethylcellulose sodium as the sodium salt of a polycarboxymethyl ether of cellulose.

Functional Category

Coating agent; stabilizing agent; suspending agent; tablet and capsule disintegrant; tablet binder; viscosity-increasing agent; water-absorbing agent.

Applications in Pharmaceutical Formulation or Technology

Carboxymethylcellulose sodium is widely used in oral and topical pharmaceutical formulations, primarily for its viscosity-increasing properties. Viscous aqueous solutions are used to suspend powders intended for either topical application or oral and parenteral administration. Carboxymethylcellulose sodium may also be used as a tablet binder and disintegrant, and to stabilize emulsions.

Higher concentrations, usually 3–6%, of the medium-viscosity grade are used to produce gels that can be used as the base for applications and pastes; glycols are often included in such gels to prevent them drying out. Carboxymethylcellulose sodium is also used in self-adhesive ostomy, wound care, and dermatological patches as a muco-adhesive and to absorb wound exudate or transepidermal water and sweat.


This muco-adhesive property is used in products designed to prevent post-surgical tissue adhesions; and to localize and modify the release kinetics of active ingredients applied to mucous membranes; and for bone repair.
Encapsulation with carboxymethylcellulose sodium can affect drug protection and delivery.

There have also been reports of its use as a cyto-protective agent. Carboxymethylcellulose sodium is also used in cosmetics, toiletries, surgical prosthetics, and incontinence, personal hygiene, and food products.

Method of Manufacture

Alkali cellulose is prepared by steeping cellulose obtained from wood pulp or cotton fibers in sodium hydroxide solution. The alkaline cellulose is then reacted with sodium monochloroacetate to produce carboxymethylcellulose sodium. Sodium chloride and sodium glycolate are obtained as by-products of this etherification.

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