This fine powder is what is known as a 'cellulose polymer.' Cellulose comes from the walls of plant cells, which consists of vegetable fibers. For something to be a polymer, this merely means, "A substance that has a molecular structure built up chiefly or completely from a large number of similar units bonded together." Like a lot of cosmetic additives, the INCI name of this product sounds more scary than reality. If you run this product thru the Skin Deep website for toxicity ratings, you will find that it holds a mighty ZERO on all levels. And that works for us at Organic Creations!
This additive is used for gelling and thickening water soluble recipes. By adding to the water phase of your recipe and then allowing it to hydrate for about 20 minutes -- your finished product will be somewhere in the ballpark of a clear to a semi-transparent gel. It works great for shampoos and body washes, and other formulations that needs a bit of body. In a snap, that thin liquid soap is thick!
A few key tips on working with this powder: It must be added to the water phase of the recipe. Agate well with a stick blender if you have one. Allow to sit for about 20 minutes (continue to stir off and on) to create a gel. Then slowly work into your other additives. This powder loves a low pH, so if you plan to use an adjuster like citric acid, we suggest doing that before adding the HEC -- it will setup faster at a lower pH. Try using room temp water, if possible. The warmer the water, the faster HEC sets up. Avoid hot water, as it tends to create "jelly-lumps." After the base has gelled, it is fine to heat it, if you need to.