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What is the difference between HPMC and HEC?

Released on May. 25, 2022


HPMC (hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose ether) and HEC (Hydroxyethyl Cellulose) are both cellulose ethers used in various industries for their binding, thickening, and stabilizing properties.

HPMC is made from cellulose and is commonly used as an emulsifier, thickener, and stabilizer in the food, pharmaceutical, and construction industries. It is used in food as a suspending agent for solids and as a thickener for sauces and soups. In pharmaceuticals, it is used as a binder and disintegrant in tablet formulations and as a coating for pills. HPMC is also used in construction as a binder in cement products and as a thickener in tile adhesive. 

HEC is also a cellulose ether with similar properties to HPMC. It is water-soluble and used as a thickener, binder, and stabilizer in various industries, including cosmetics, personal care, and pharmaceuticals. In cosmetics and personal care products, it can be used as a thickener for shampoos, lotions, and other liquid products. In pharmaceuticals, it can be used as a binder, film-former, and tablet disintegrant.

HPMC - Hydroxypropyl Methyl Cellulose

● Construction industry: used as water retention agent and retarder for water and slurry slurry to make slurry pumping. In plaster, plaster, putty powder or other construction materials as a binder to improve the effect of smearing and extend the operating time. Used for pasting tile, marble, plastic decoration, paste enhancer, also can reduce the amount of cement. HPMC water retention properties so that the slurry will not crack after construction due to too fast drying, enhance the strength after hardening. 

● Ceramic manufacturing: widely used as adhesives in the manufacture of ceramic products.

● Coating industry: used as thickener, dispersant and stabilizer in coating industry, with good solubility in water or organic solvents. As paint stripper.

● Ink printing: in the ink industry as a thickener, dispersant and stabilizer, good solubility in water or organic solvents.

● Plastics: used as molding release agent, softener, lubricant, etc.

● PVC: As the main auxiliary for PVC production dispersant, suspension polymerization preparation of PVC. 7、Other: The product is also widely used in leather, paper products industry, fruit and vegetable preservation and textile industry.

Difference Between HPMC and HEC 

HEC- Hydroxyethyl cellulose

As a non-ionic surfactant, HEC hydroxyethyl cellulose has the following properties in addition to thickening, floating, up-floating, film formation, dispersion, water retention and protection of colloids.


● HEC dissolves in hot or cold water and does not precipitate in heat or boiling, giving it a wide range of solubility and viscosity properties, and non-thermal gel.

● Its non-ionic type can coexist with a variety of other water-soluble polymers, surfactants, salts, and is an excellent colloidal thickener containing high concentrations of electrolyte solutions.

● water retention capacity is twice as high as methyl cellulose, with good flow regulation ability. 

● HEC dispersion ability compared with the recognized methyl cellulose, hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose dispersion ability is the worst, but the strongest colloidal protection ability.

Generally used as thickener, protectant, binder, stabilizer and additive for the preparation of emulsions, gels, ointments, lotions, eye cleansers, suppositories and tablets, also used as hydrophilic gels, skeletal materials, skeletal type retardant preparation, also used as a stabilizer in food.

Difference Between HPMC and HEC

HPMC (Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose) and HEC (Hydroxyethyl Cellulose) are both cellulose ethers used in various industries for their binding, thickening, and stabilizing properties. However, there are some key differences between the two:

 Chemical structure

HPMC has both hydroxypropyl and methyl groups, while HEC only has hydroxyethyl groups. This difference in chemical structure affects their physical properties. 

● Solubility

HEC is more soluble in water than HPMC, and can also dissolve in organic solvents. HPMC does not dissolve easily in organic solvents. 

● Viscosity

HEC has a higher viscosity compared to HPMC at low concentrations, which makes it more suitable for applications that require a high level of thickening, such as in cosmetics and personal care products.


HPMC is commonly used in industries like construction, food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals, while HEC is primarily used in cosmetics and personal care products, such as shampoos, lotions, and gels, due to its high thickening ability and transparency.

Maissen is a professional HPMC (hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose ether) manufacturer and supplier in China, focus on supplying high performance HPMC for wide applications. With superior quality and competitive wholesale price, we welcome all the customers from worldwide to contact us and build-up cooperation with us. Our HPMC will definitely satisfy your requirements on HPMC.


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