Safety Information

The following comments are general and are not a substitute for the detailed safety information found in the Safety Data Sheet.


METHOCEL cellulose ether products resemble the naturally occurring plant and seaweed gums in many of their chemical, physical and functional properties. All these materials possess a basic carbohydrate structure.

METHOCEL products have had extensive evaluation and testing in both acute and long-term feeding studies in a number of species, including humans. Their many years of use in a wide variety of food items attests to the safety of METHOCEL Premium and Food Grade products.

Although dust from METHOCEL cellulose ether products could conceivably cause temporary mechanical irritation to the skin and eyes under extreme conditions and may be considered a nuisance dust if inhaled, the products are considered to present no significant health hazard in handling. Please review the handling precautions within the Safety Data Sheet for more information.


Cellulose ether products are organic polymers that will burn when exposed to heat and sufficient oxygen supply. Fires can be extinguished by conventional means, avoiding any raising of dust by strong water jets. Dow recommends the use of a water spray, carbon dioxide or powder extinguisher.


Caution: A fine dust of this material is capable of forming an explosive mixture with air. Powder samples should not be exposed to temperatures above 135° to 145°C. Samples may decompose and lead to a possible dust explosion. As in storage of any dusts or fine powders, good housekeeping is required to prevent dusts in air from reaching possibly explosive levels. When handling in large quantities or in bulk, the general precautions outlined in NFPA 63 "Prevention of Dust Explosions in Industrial Plants," and in NFPA bulletins 68, 69 and 654, are recommended.

As with any organic chemical material, METHOCEL cellulose ethers should not be stored next to peroxides or other oxidizing agents.

Accidental Spills and Housekeeping

Solutions of METHOCEL cellulose ethers are slippery. To prevent employee falls and injury, floor spills of dry powder should be thoroughly vacuumed or swept up. Any slight residual product on the walls or floor can then be flushed with water into a sewer. If the spill is a viscous solution, it should be further diluted with cold water before disposal. Likewise, accumulation of dust should be avoided to control this hazard.


Despite the very slow rate of biodegradation, cellulose ether products should not present any hazard in the waste/soil compartment. Their behavior is similar to wheat flour or sawdust. Although Dow Chemical Company studies using standard procedures showed no 5-day, 10-day or 20-day BOD values, activated sludge studies with (14c) methylcellulose showed that methylcellulose was 96 percent degraded or otherwise removed from solution in 20 days. Thus, METHOCEL cellulose ethers should present no ecological hazard to aquatic life.

Because METHOCEL cellulose ether products and their aqueous solutions present no significant ecological problems, they can be disposed of by industrial incineration or in an approved landfill, providing regulations are observed. Incineration should be done under carefully controlled conditions to avoid the possibility of a dust explosion. Customers are advised to review their local, state, provincial or federal/national regulations governing the disposal of waste materials to determine appropriate means of disposal in their area.