Written by Thomas Godwin
Updated: May 1, 2023
Image Credit © Henri Koskinen/Shutterstock.com


Of all the organic polymers on earth, this is the most abundant by far. It’s a primary component in paper manufacturing, along with paperboard and a large variety of paper products. It’s completely non-soluble, meaning it will not dissolve in water.

What is Cellulose?

This substance is a straight-chain, carbohydrate polymer and a major structural component in the cell walls of plants. It’s highly useful in the industrialized world as a biodegradable component. It’s completely odorless and lacks any sort of taste.

In this case, linked glucose molecules form a series of molecules that make up a straight-chain polymer. There are hundreds of thousands of these glucose molecules, all linked together in a “straight chain”.

Think of it as the framework within the structure of a plant cell, like that of a house or a building. However, without cellulose, the structure would collapse.

Close shot of eco friendly cellulose insulation filling held in hand 
Cellulose is non-soluble, meaning it won’t dissolve in water.


Foods are Highest in Cellulose

It is a dietary fiber when consumed since the body has no method for breaking it down. Most leafy green vegetables contain moderate to high amounts of it, although sweet corn is a huge source of cellulose, followed by most fruits. Additionally, sugarcane juice is a high source at 45% to 46%.


The uses are incredible and varied. It’s the primary component of cotton (90%), so the clothing industry has a high demand for it. However, cotton is more than just clothing, including the pharmaceutical industry, soaps, rubber, and waterproofing materials.

The paper industry uses more cellulose than any other industry, with the material found in paper, paper board, toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, handkerchiefs, facial tissue, disposable tissues, coffee filters, sponges, gloves, and electrical insulation.

There are also some unusual uses for it, though these uses are less heard of. Cottonseed oil contains a high level of cellulose, along with shortening, potato chips, bread, cereal, cosmetics, and margarine.

Spraying cellulose insulation on the wall
Cellulose is used for insulation.

©Kurteev Gennadii/Shutterstock.com

Is it Digestible?

Cellulose is not digestible in human beings because an enzyme known as cellulase is required to break down the material. This is why it makes such an excellent source of fiber. Ruminants are mammals that are capable of breaking down cellulose, which includes hooved “grazing” animals.

Cows, giraffes, antelopes, sheep, camels, deer, goats, pronghorns, and okapis are examples of ruminants capable of digesting cellulose.


Cellulose is pronounced seh – lyuh – lows

Cellulose Formula


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About the Author

Thomas is a freelance writer with an affinity for the great outdoors and Doberman Pinschers. When he's not sitting behind the computer, pounding out stories on black bears and reindeer, he's spending time with his family, two Dobermans (Ares and Athena), and a Ragdoll cat named Heimdal. He also tends his Appleyard Ducks and a variety of overly curious and occasionally vexatious chickens.