Cationic Starch: Properties, Production, and Applications

Cationic starch is a modified starch that has been chemically treated to give it a positive charge. This modification process, known as cationization, involves adding cationic (positively charged) groups to the starch molecules. The resulting cationic starch has improved properties and functionality, such as increased water absorption, binding capacity, and stability.

Cationic starch is commonly used in the paper industry as a wet-end additive to improve paper strength, retention of fines, and drainage, as well as in sludge dewatering and mineral mining. It can also be used as a sizing agent, a flocculant in water treatment, and a binder in the textile and food industries. The degree of cationization and the method used to modify the starch can vary depending on the intended use of the cationic starch.


Cationic starch, which is produced through the cationization process, has several unique properties that make it useful for various industrial applications. Here are some of the properties of cationic starch:

  1. Positive Charge: Cationic starch has a positive charge, which makes it effective at binding to negatively charged surfaces, such as cellulose fibers, in papermaking applications.
  2. High Degree of Substitution (DS): The degree of substitution (DS) refers to the amount of positive charge added to the starch molecules during the cationization process. Cationic starch can have a DS ranging from 0.01 to 0.5, depending on the intended use. A higher DS indicates a greater degree of cationization and a stronger positive charge.
  3. Increased Water Absorption: Cationic starch has an increased ability to absorb water, which makes it useful as a binder or thickener in a variety of applications.
  4. Increased Swelling Power: Cationic starch has an increased ability to swell when exposed to water, which makes it useful in papermaking and other applications where water absorption is important.
  5. Improved Stability: The positive charge on cationic starch molecules makes them more stable when exposed to cationic materials, such as dyes or proteins.
  6. Efficient Flocculant: Cationic starch can be used as an efficient flocculant for removing heavy metal ions in wastewater treatment.
  7. Reduced Granule Crystallinity: Cationization can reduce the crystallinity of starch granules, which makes them more amorphous and easier to dissolve in water.

Overall, the properties of cationic starch make it useful for a wide range of applications, including papermaking, textiles, adhesives, and wastewater treatment.


Cationic starch is produced through a chemical modification process known as cationization, which involves the addition of positively charged groups to the starch molecules. The cationic starch production process can be carried out using various methods, but they typically involve the following steps:

  1. Preparation of Starch: The first step involves the preparation of starch, which can be derived from various sources such as corn, potato, tapioca, or rice. The starch is typically purified and washed to remove any impurities, then dried to the desired moisture content.
  2. Reaction: The starch is then reacted with a cationizing agent such as 3-chloro-2-hydroxypropyltrimethylammonium chloride (CHPTAC), epichlorohydrin, or quaternary ammonium salts. The reaction can be carried out using various methods such as in situ or ex situ, batch or continuous, and with or without solvents.
  3. Neutralization: After the reaction, the excess cationizing agent is neutralized with an alkali such as sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. The neutralization process is critical to ensuring that the final product has the desired degree of substitution (DS) and charge density.
  4. Washing and Drying: The cationic starch is then washed with water to remove any unreacted chemicals or by-products and then dried to the desired moisture content. The drying process is essential to ensure that the final product has good storage stability and handling properties.
  5. Testing and Quality Control: The final product is then tested to ensure that it meets the desired specifications for its intended use. Tests may include determining the degree of substitution, charge density, viscosity, and other physical and chemical properties.

Overall, cationic starch production involves a series of complex chemical reactions that require careful control and monitoring to ensure that the final product has the desired properties and quality.


Cationic starch has a variety of applications in different industries, including:

  1. Paper industry: Cationic starch is widely used in the paper industry as a wet-end additive to increase paper strength, retention of fines, and drainage. It improves paper quality by enhancing fiber-to-fiber bonding and reducing porosity.
  2. Textile industry: Cationic starch is used in textile sizing to improve weaving efficiency and fabric strength. It can also be used as a thickener in textile printing pastes.
  3. Food industry: Cationic starch is used in the food industry as a thickener, emulsifier, stabilizer, and fat replacer. It can improve the texture and stability of various food products such as sauces, dressings, and baked goods.
  4. Mining industry: Cationic starch is used in mineral processing as a flocculant to remove impurities and clarify liquid-solid separation.
  5. Water treatment: Cationic starch is used as a flocculant in wastewater treatment to remove suspended solids and organic matter.
  6. Adhesives: Cationic starch is used in adhesive formulations as a binder and thickener.
  7. Personal care products: Cationic starch is used in personal care products such as shampoos and conditioners as a thickener and conditioning agent.

Overall, cationic starch offers a versatile and cost-effective solution for improving the performance and functionality of various industrial products.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *