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Last updated date: 23rd Apr 2024
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Introduction to the Concept of Emulsion on Vedantu

Emulsions are mixtures composed of two or more liquid types, where one is like droplets, of tiny or even ultramicroscopic size, distributed throughout each other. Usually, these are formed from the liquid components either in natural form or, more often, using mechanisms such as the agitation, provided that these fluids mixed have no type of mutual solubility.

Emulsions are stated as stabilized by some of the agents forming films at the droplet surfaces or those which impart to them as a kind of mechanical stability. Eventually, the unstable form of emulsions separates into two different forms of liquid layers. The stable emulsions are destroyed either by destroying or by deactivating the emulsifying agent. An emulsifying agent example is, by the addition of suitable third party substances or even by the process of heating or by freezing.

A few of the common emulsions are milk (where the fat molecules or droplets dispersion happens in the aqueous solution) and butter (the dispersion of droplets of particles of an aqueous solution present in the fat).


An emulsion is a mixture of or more liquids that are typically unmixable and unblendable. It is a term used in chemistry. It means that in an emulsion the dispersed section and dispersion medium are each liquid. There are two primary sorts of emulsions: oil in water and water in oil. Oil and water don’t mix.

Make a third cup by combining a cup of water and a cup of oil. Rather than the two liquids mixing collectively, the oil will simply float on the pinnacle of the water. even supposing they're blended together, the oil and water quickly separate again. Next, beat up an egg and blend it with the oil and water. Now the oil and water aren't set apart. Why is this? How is this viable? An emulsion is a combination wherein the materials blended are not soluble with each other. The materials will no longer blend or live mixed with every difference without the help of an emulsifier. inside the water and oil emulsion, the egg is the emulsifier.

What Is Emulsion?

An emulsion is a colloid consisting of two or more non-homogeneous liquid types wherein one of such liquids contains the dispersion of the different forms of liquids.

Hydrophobic vs. Hydrophilic

Crucial phrases to understand on the subject of emulsions are hydrophobic and hydrophilic. A substance that is hydrophobic does not mix or dissolve in water. Hydrophilic is a substance that mixes with or dissolves in water. Those terms are less complicated to recollect while you understand that hydro manners 'water,' -phobic means 'fear of', and -philic means 'love of'. So a hydrophobic material is one that is fearful of water and may not mix with it, whilst a hydrophilic cloth loves the water and wants to blend with it as much as feasible. inside the first instance, oil is a hydrophobic substance. Sugar, for example, is a hydrophilic substance because it will completely dissolve when mixed with water.

Whilst hydrophobic and hydrophilic substances are mixed, they may rapidly separate due to the fact they're now not able to mate with each other. However, sometimes we want these two materials to mix to make a 3rd material. An emulsifier is a fabric that may assist a hydrophobic and a hydrophilic fabric mix collectively.

Because it possesses both hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties, an emulsifier operates.  And it has both hydrophobic and hydrophilic residences, it mixes with each, and by mixing with both, it forces each to mix with every different.


Emulsion Examples

Emulsions consist of a dispersion of two liquids, where each other are immiscible. One of the liquids acts as the dispersion medium, whereas the other will act as the dispersed phase. In other words, emulsions are the colloids in which both the dispersion medium and the dispersed phase are liquids. The oil and water mixtures are the emulsions when they are shaken together. Then, the oil forms drop and disperse throughout the water.

The term emulsion can also be applied to a group of mixed systems, which are called as solutions, or suspensions, or gels. For example, the photographic emulsion type is a gelatin gel consisting of tiny crystals that are dispersed in it. A few other examples of emulsions include butter, egg yolk containing lecithin, and an emulsion of water in fat.

Dispersed Phase

Dispersion Medium

Type of Colloid





Some Coloured Glasses And Gemstones




Paints, Cell Fluids




Smoke, Dust




Cheese, Butter, Jellies




Milk, Hair Cream




Fog, Mist, Cloud, Insecticide Sprays




Pumice Stone, Foam Rubber




Froth, Whipped Cream, Soap Lather

Types Of Emulsion

Based on the properties of the dispersion medium and the dispersed phase, emulsions can be classified into two types. They are given below.

The features of the dispersed segment and the dispersion medium can be used to classify emulsions.

  • Water in oil emulsion: The emulsion wherein water forms the dispersed section, and the oil acts as the dispersion medium is referred to as a water-in-oil emulsion. These emulsions also are termed oil emulsions. Butter and cold cream are traditional examples of those kinds of emulsions. different examples are cod liver oil etc.

  • Oil in water emulsion: The emulsion in which oil is present because the dispersed section and water as the dispersion medium continuous segment is referred to as an oil-in-water emulsion. Milk is an example of the oil-in-water sort of emulsion. Other examples are vanishing cream and so forth.

Examples of Emulsions:

  • Oil and water mixtures are emulsions while shaken together. The oil will form drops and disperse during the water.

  • The emulsifying agent lecithin is present in egg yolk, which creates an emulsion.

  • Mayonnaise is an oil in water emulsion that is stabilized by using lecithin in egg yolk.

Working of Emulsifiers

Before going to understand this, we need to understand the process of coalescing first. Coalescing is the process where similar particles in the emulsions come together to form bulkier and larger particles leading to the separation of the dispersion medium and dispersed phase.

The meaning of Emulsifiers can be defined as it helps in preventing the coalescing by forming as a physical barrier between the dispersed phase and the dispersion medium. As noticed in the previous emulsifiers, such as soap, it has both a hydrophobic end and a hydrophilic end. Hence, they can attach to both polar substances and non-polar substances. If we take the example of sodium stearate, the C17H35COO–Na can be represented as follows.

When this is added to an Oil in Water emulsion type (O/W), the C17H35COO– molecules surround the oil droplet with their non-polar hydrophobic/tails end (hydrocarbon chain) extending into the oil & their polar hydrophilic/heads end (carboxylate ion) facing the water as given in the below figure.

This complete arrangement brings a stronger adhesive force between both the oil (dispersed phase) and water (dispersion medium). This newly formed adhesive force will be more compared to the cohesive force between oil - oil and water - water. Thus, the oil particles will not tend to come together to form larger particles. This also helps in preventing the coalescing, thereby stabilizing the emulsion.

Note: For the w/o type of emulsion, the orientation of the emulsifier would be the opposite of the o/w emulsion type. i.e. the non-polar (hydrophobic end) tail extends outside, and the polar (hydrophilic end) head faces inwards.

Emulsification Theories

There are multiple theories that accompany the process of emulsification because it involves several processes and mechanisms (both chemical and physical).

  • Surface Tension Theory: This theory defines emulsification as a process in which the interfacial tension between two phases is reduced.

  • Repulsion Theory: The emulsifying agent generates a film over one phase, which leads to the production of globules, according to the repulsion theory. These chemicals oppose each other, allowing them to stay suspended in the dispersion medium due to the repulsive force that exists between them.

Methods to Identify The Type of Emulsions

1. Dilution test

On adding water to an o/w emulsion type, still, it will remain stable as the water is the dispersion medium, whereas, on adding oil, it will get destabilised because oil & water are immiscible. Likewise, w/o emulsion type can be diluted with oil & would be stable still, but would get destabilised on the addition of water.

2. Conductivity test

In this test, the emulsion is kept between the two electrodes, and a bulb is connected in the circuit, as represented in the below diagram. An o/w type of emulsion will conduct electricity as water conducts electricity, but a w/o emulsion will not conduct electricity.

3. Dye test

Here, a water-soluble dye is added to the emulsion. If it is an o/w emulsion type, the dispersion medium appears red and the dispersed phase is colourless and vice-versa.

Properties Of Emulsions

  • Emulsions have a cloudy appearance because of the various phase interfaces scattering light passing through the emulsions

  • Emulsions contain both a the dispersed and continuous with the boundary coming between the phases, called “interface”

  • If the emulsion is dilute, then the higher-frequency and low-wavelength type of light will be scattered in more fractions, and this emulsion kind will appear blue. This is also called the Tyndall effect

  • When the light is dispersed in equal proportions, emulsions appear in white colour

Emulsions Separation

The following are some of the methods for separating emulsions into their constituent liquids:

  • The heating system

  • Centrifugal force

  • Freezing, and so on

Emulsion's Applications and Uses

Emulsions are well-known in a variety of scientific domains. It's employed in the tanning and dyeing industries, as well as the plastics and synthetic rubber manufacturing processes.

  • Cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and personal hygiene products are common uses.

  • Vaccines are delivered using microemulsions, which destroy a variety of microorganisms.

  • It is primarily employed in the production of polymer dispersions in chemical synthesis.

  • It's a firefighting tool.

  • To kill bacteria, nanoemulsions such as soybean oil are utilised.

  • Mayonnaise is a water-in-oil emulsion containing egg yolk or sodium stearoyl lactylate.

FAQs on Emulsion

1.  What is an emulsion, and what are two instances of emulsions in everyday life?

An emulsion is a sort of colloid that is created by mixing two liquids that would typically not mix. One liquid contains a dispersion of the other liquid in an emulsion. Egg yolk, butter, and mayonnaise are all examples of emulsions.

2.  What is the purpose of emulsion?

Emulsion is a type of paint that is commonly used on walls and ceilings. It's made of water and vinyl or acrylic for extra durability. It is available in a variety of finishes, including gloss, satin, eggshell, silk, flat matt, and matt.

3.  Explain the applications and uses of Emulsion.

Emulsions are much famous in various science fields. It can be utilized in the dyeing and tanning industries, in the manufacturing process of synthetic rubber and plastics.

  • Micro-emulsions are used to deliver vaccines to kill different microbes

  • Use of emulsion can be applied in cosmetics, personal hygiene, and pharmaceuticals usually

  • It is also used in chemical synthesis mainly in the polymer dispersions manufacturing

  • Nanoemulsions like soybean oil are used to kill microbes

  • It is used in firefighting

  • Mayonnaise, an oil in water emulsion with sodium stearoyl lactylate or egg yolk.

4. Explain the Separation of Emulsion and Theories of Emulsification.

The various methods where emulsions can be separated into its constituent liquids are listed below.



Freezing, and more

Theories of Emulsion or Emulsification

Since there are different mechanisms and processes (chemically and physically) involved in the process of emulsification, there are various theories that accompany it.

  • Repulsion Theory

We learn that the emulsifying agent produces a film over one phase that leads to the formation of globules further with this theory. These compounds also tend to repel each other, and the repulsive force that exists between them helps them to remain suspended in the dispersion medium.

  • Surface Tension Theory

This theory describes or states emulsification as a process that occurs by the reduction of interfacial tension between the two phases.