Dissolving Methylcellulose For Use As a Dietary Fiber Supplement

by William S. Statler

Methylcellulose is a water-soluble, chemically-modified version of the natural plant fiber cellulose. It's the active ingredient in Citrucel and other "irregularity" treatments. Since it's completely indigestible and non-allergenic, it adds bulk to the contents of your GI tract without causing gas or other undesirable side-effects.

It's also available in pure form as a white fluffy powder. Our local health food store sells "Ener-G" brand, for use in baking. But it can be made into a sort-of palatable drink, to use as an inexpensive Citrucel substitute... if you know the trick for getting it dissolved.

The trick depends on a weird physical property of methylcellulose: it's soluble in cold water but insoluble in hot water.

Ah, you might think, so I just need to mix it up in cold water. No such luck: try it, and you get blobs of powder coated in thick, viscous goo.

Here's the trick: In a dry cup, put a teaspoon of methylcellulose powder. Then pour in about 3/4 cup of boiling water, and stir. The powder won't dissolve immediately, but all the little particles will disperse evenly in the water instead of making blobs. Stir every few minutes until it cools to a drinkable temperature. (As it cools, the particles of powder will dissolve and the liquid will become more transparent. But if you forget to stir it, you'll have a layer of jelly on the bottom of your cup.)

Add your favorite flavoring (we use lemon juice and sweetener), and drink. Yum, slimy-gooey hot lemonade! One teaspoon of methylcellulose weighs about 1.5 grams; for comparison, one dose of Citrucel contains about 2 grams of methylcellulose.

Don't even think about trying to eat this powder dry. Imagine your throat (and probably your windpipe) coated with blobs of rubber-cement-like goo. Probably best to keep it out of reach of kids as well.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a physician, or a dietician, or anything else. I'm just a guy who knows how to dissolve methylcellulose. USE THIS RECIPE AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Copyright © 2000 William S. Statler. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License, which grants limited rights of non-commercial distribution and reuse. Please read
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