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Why is HPMC a more cost-effective alternative to HEC?

Dec. 25, 2023

Hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose (HPMC) and hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC) both belong to cellulose ethers and are widely used in the industry due to their unique properties. These cellulose ethers are used in a variety of applications, ranging from construction materials to pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Although HEC has long been an important option, HPMC has become increasingly popular as an alternative in recent years due to its cost-effectiveness properties. Next, discuss in terms of similarity and cost-effectiveness Why HPMC is a more cost-effective alternative to HEC.

The similarity is mainly explained from the perspectives of performance, application, cost-effectiveness, etc.

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1.Performance of HPMC and HEC:

●Water retention:

Both HPMC and HEC are hydrophilic and have excellent water retention capabilities. They can absorb and retain moisture, which makes them valuable in applications where moisture control is critical, such as construction materials.

●Thickening ability:

One of the primary functions of HPMC and HEC is to act as thickeners. They can increase the viscosity of solutions and contribute to the stability of a variety of formulations, including paints, adhesives, and personal care products.

● Adhesion:

The adhesive properties of HPMC and HEC make them suitable for use in construction materials and pharmaceutical formulations. They help improve adhesion and cohesion in a variety of applications.

● Film formation:

HPMC and HEC can form thin films when applied to surfaces. This property is advantageous in industries such as pharmaceuticals and food, which may require films for pharmaceutical coatings or edible coatings.

2. Application of HPMC and HEC:

● Construction industry:

In the construction industry, both HPMC and HEC are widely used in cement-based materials. They act as water-retaining agents, improving workability and reducing the risk of cracking. HPMC, in particular, is gaining acceptance in the field due to its cost-effectiveness.


In pharmaceutical formulations, both cellulose ethers have a variety of uses, including as binders, disintegrants, and film-forming agents. HPMC is often favored because it is cost-effective without compromising performance.

● Personal care products:

In personal care products such as shampoos, lotions, and creams, both HPMC and HEC act as thickeners and stabilizers. The cost-effectiveness of HPMC makes it an attractive option for manufacturers looking for an economical alternative.

●Paints and coatings:

HEC is commonly used in the coatings industry due to its rheological properties, which help improve coating viscosity and application properties. HPMC is also used in coatings to provide cost-effective solutions for achieving desired performance.

3. Cost-effectiveness of HPMC:

●Raw material cost:

The production of HPMC involves the reaction of cellulose with propylene oxide and methyl chloride, which is generally more cost-effective than the ethylene oxide used in HEC production. This gives HPMC a competitive advantage in terms of raw material costs.

● Production process:

The synthesis process of HPMC is relatively simple, which helps reduce production costs. The simplicity of the manufacturing process makes HPMC an economically attractive option for industries looking to optimize costs without compromising quality.


While HPMC and HEC offer similar performance in many applications, the cost-effectiveness of HPMC often makes it the first choice for manufacturers. The balance between performance and cost is a key factor in raw material selection and HPMC excels in delivering good value for money.

In general, hydroxyethyl cellulose (HPMC) and hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC), as cellulose ethers, are widely used in various industries and exhibit unique properties. They play an important role in areas such as building materials, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products. Although HEC has long been the first choice, its alternative status has gradually heated up in recent years due to the cost-effectiveness of HPMC. From performance, and application to cost-effectiveness, HPMC and HEC are similar in many aspects, but HPMC stands out with more economically attractive characteristics. In the future, as the industry continues to pursue cost-effectiveness, HPMC is expected to continue to occupy a wider market share.

Shijiazhuang Henggu Jianxin Cellulose Co., Ltd.

Chemical Industrial Park, Xinji City, Hebei Province, China Post Code: 052360

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