What is an emulsion?


In general, within the daily meals of the human being are included butter or margarine, milk, cream, cream and custard, espresso, mayonnaise, among others. At least one of them is consumed by every inhabitant of the earth, since they are something ” vital “ in meals. Although it plays an important role, very few people know that they are created thanks to a process called emulsion , which is not only part of food production, but also within other areas such as pharmacology, metallurgy and Photography.


What is an emulsion?

When talking about what an emulsion is , it is nothing more than a mixture which seeks to bind in a relatively homogeneous way two liquids of different compositions. The union system seen in simpler terms is something very easy to understand; the main liquid is to be completely diluted in the other. The process that contemplates the preparation of emulsions is called emulsification. In general, the emulsions that are commonly made are those of oil or water with various dietary fats that generally come from nature.In a little deeper terms, emulsions are included within physics as two-phase systems of matter called colloids .

  • Definition
  • Characteristics of the emulsion
  • Types
  • Process
  • How it differs from suspension
  • Emulsion in medicine
  • Emulsion in gastronomy
  • Examples


Emulsion is defined as a colloidal-type process of matter , which is separated into two phases, which includes two liquid elements that have relatively miscible properties , so that one of the two ends up dissipating or joined to the other. in the form of globules .

The first phase is the dispersed phase, also known as the continuous or internal phase in which one of the liquids is disintegrated , while the second phase is the discontinuous phase, also called internal, it is in which the liquid is integrated into the one that is already present. disintegrated.

Characteristics of the emulsion

Emulsion is a term that people rarely hear, but despite this it has great importance in many areas such as cooking and medicine . Some of its most outstanding characteristics are:

  • This process is used by chefs and foodies , but above all by Italian families, who like to cook different sauces and creamy dishes. Although it is also essential to use this tool to create things like cream or butter .
  • Within medicine, it is widely used in various vaccines that use fatty products such as soybean oil to create anti-pathogens.
  • Within the area of ​​care, many companies use these methods to make their facial creams that have a more or less liquid consistency.
  • The emulsion is also found within photography and refers to the suspension of a silver bromide in gelatin, it refers to one of the photographic material which is sensitive to excess light.


Within the types of emulsion we find 3 variants, which are differentiated by their application process:

Direct emulsion

s the most common type of emulsion among the 3 variants, it is established that the dispersion phase is a fatty substance called a lipophilic substance while the continuous phase is the addition of water called the hydrophilic phase. These are mainly associated with the creation of milk, mayonnaise and some paintings such as those for the home.

Reverse emulsion

As its name indicates, this type of emulsion performs the direct type process in the opposite way, that is, the hydrophilic stage is carried out first and the lipophilic stage after it. This is usually associated with the creation of butter and face creams.

Multiple emulsion

Within this type of emulsion the phases work differently, since in the first dispersed phase we have an inverse process but in the continuous phase it is locked with an aqueous liquid. This type occurs basically in pharmaceutical products in order to obtain delayed releases.


The emulsification system will always consist of joining two elements, one of which must comply with the emulsifying properties. However, it should be noted that the different properties of each must be known, which must be:

  • Its functions within the phase continues.
  • Its existing relationship between the internal phase and also the external one.
  • The size of each emulsion particle.
  • The relationship that exists between the continuous phase and its particles that make it up, taking into account their ionic charges.
  • All properties that act in the discontinuous phase.

How it differs from suspension

Actually when the theoretical bases of what is the emulsion and what is the suspension are analyzed, it can be understood that only a small line of difference separates them. Although it is true that the emulsion is the colloidal separation of a liquid within another, the emulsion is also a colloidal separation but of a solid within a liquid, for example salt in water.

Emulsion in medicine

Within the area of ​​medicine there is something called the microscopic emulsion , which is used mainly to distribute vaccines equitably at the molecular level and kill microbes or microorganisms . In general , these emulsions are mainly used as nano emulsion techniques formed from soybean oil, and are made up of between 400 and 600 nanometers in diameter.

Although it may seem strange, this is not a chemical process unlike other of its brothers that make up the family of anti-pathogens, but rather a physical process, in which despite the fact that the drops are small, they present in their composition a great surface tension and that is why the binding force with other lipids is much stronger.

Emulsion in gastronomy

Within gastronomy, the term emulsion fulfills various roles, they are generally used in sauces, but also in the preparation of various dishes such as pasta creams. When talking about emulsion in the kitchen, one of the elements most used to produce this effect is the egg.

On the other hand, to create the mayonnaise, the egg is mixed with the oil in a blender and this is in charge of giving the corresponding homogeneity to the mayonnaise sauce. In turn, the egg is also included in the final stages of the elaboration of many Italian dishes where it is sought that the pasta remains with a creamy consistency and in unison with the other ingredients .


  • The mayonnaise sauces.
  • The pink sauce.
  • Sauces for dressing such as honey and mustard, or passion fruit, which are used to combine with salads.
  • Sauces for demiglass of red meats such as bourbon, BBQ, cocktail sauce, apple sauce.
  • The various ampoules for skin care which go through an emulsifying process.
  • Within the eccentric cocktail bar, in drinks such as whiskey sour which has among its ingredients the white of an egg or the bull shot that has tomato juice and meat broth among its ingredients.

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