dextrin, any one of a number of carbohydrates having the same general formula as starch but a smaller and less complex molecule. They are polysaccharides and are produced as intermediate products in the hydrolysis of starch by heat, by acids, and by enzymes. Their nature and their chemical behavior depend to a great extent on the kind of starch from which they are derived. For example, some react with iodine to give a reddish-brown color, others a blue, and still others yield no color at all. For commerical use dextrin is prepared by heating dry starch or starch treated with acids to produce a colorless or yellowish, tasteless, odorless powder which, when mixed with water, forms a strongly adhesive paste. It is used widely in adhesives, e.g., for postage stamps, envelopes, and wallpapers, and for sizing paper and textiles.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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