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Cellulose cotton.jpg
Cotton, the most common form of cellulose.
(C6H10O5)n (n=300-10,000)
Molar mass 168.15·n g/mol
Appearance White solid
Odor Odorless
Density 1.5 g/cm3
Melting point 260–270 °C (500–518 °F; 533–543 K) decomposes
Boiling point Decomposes
Solubility Reacts with halogens, conc. nitric acid, sulfuric acid
Soluble in Schweizer's reagent
Insoluble in organic solvents
Vapor pressure ~0 mmHg
−963 kJ/mol
Safety data sheet Merck (microcrystalline)
Related compounds
Related compounds
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Infobox references

Cellulose is an organic compound, a polysaccharide with the general chemical formula (C6H10O5)n, where n is the number of D-glucose units. The value of n depends on the type of cellulose: for wood-derived, it reaches between 300 and 1700, while for cotton, 800 to 10,000.



Cellulose will burn in open air, when ignited.

Cellulose can be nitrated with a nitrating mixture to yield nitrocellulose.


Cellulose is an odorless white solid, insoluble in all common solvents, but will dissolve in Schweizer's reagent, a property exploited in industry. It decomposes when heated to its melting point (260–270 °C).


Cellulose is available in too many forms to be enumerated here. The most common form of cellulose is the classic cotton padding, which is nearly pure (99%) cellulose. This is sold in almost all stores, and it's dirt cheap. However, some cotton may have perfume or other additives, while other "cottons" may be other fibers. Always read the label.

Most electronic cigarette stores will also sell pure cellulose as cotton wicks, used in atomizers. The most common form is the Japanese organic cotton.

Hemp fibers also have a high percentage of cellulose, between 70-78%, while the rest is 15-20% hemicelluloses, 3-3.3% lignin, 1-2.5% pectic substances, 2% water-soluble matter, and traces of natural pigments.

Although paper contains cellulose, it is NOT pure cellulose, and in fact also contains lignin, pigments, various salts, as well as other other additives.

Cellulose insulation materials are also another source. However, cellulose insulation tends to contain additives and boric acid/borax, and is generally not useful in reactions, but it can be a cheap excellent heat and sound insulator.

Microcellulose fibers are sold by various chemical suppliers.


Cellulose can be extracted from wood pulp, paper or any other plant material with various methods.

One can also grow cotton plants and collect the resulting cotton fibers.




Cellulose has low to none toxicity and it's generally considered a safe material.


Cellulose should be stored in closed bottles, away from moisture or acids.


Cellulose is non-toxic and can be burned or dumped in trash.

See also


Relevant Sciencemadness threads