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Emulsion s

By: Hannako Faith Ngohayon


An emulsion is a dispersion in which the dispersed phase is composed of small globules of a liquid distributed throughout a vehicle in which it is immiscible

Internal External The dispersed phase The dispersed Phase /Continuous medium Phase

To prepare a stable emulsion, a third phase, an emulsifying agent, is necessary.

Classification of Emulsions Oil-in-Water (O/W)

Emulsions with an oleaginous internal phase and an aqueous external phase

Water-in-Oil (W/O) Emulsions

Emulsions having an aqueous internal phase and an oleaginous external phase

Purpose of Emulsions/Emulsificati on To prepare relatively stable and homogeneous

mixtures of two immiscible liquids Permits administration of a liquid drug in the form of minute globules rather than in bulk. (oral emulsions) the o/w type permits palatable administration of an otherwise distasteful mixture Reduced particle size of the oil globules may render the oil more digestible and more readily absorbed, or if not, more effective in its task (e.g. increased efficacy of mineral oil as a cathartic when emulsified)

Factors Determining Emulsions as O/W or W/O

A. Nature of the therapeutic agents
The miscibility or solubility in oil and in water of a medicinal agent dictates to a great extent the vehicle, and its nature in turn suggests the phase of the emulsion that the resulting solution should become.

B. Desirability for an emollient/tissue-softening effect

A w/o emulsion is also more softening to the skin, because it resists drying and removal by contact with water.

C. Condition of the skin

On the unbroken skin, a w/o emulsion can usually be applied more evenly, because the skin is covered with a thin

Emulsion Type and Means of Detection

1. Dilution


O/W emulsion can be diluted with water. W/O emulsion can be diluted with oil.
2. Conductivity


Continuous phase (water) > Continuous phase (oil)

3. Dye-Solubility Test:
Water soluble dye will dissolve in the aqueous phase. Oil soluble dye will dissolve in the oil phase.

Coalesce- The tendency to join or come
together and form one mass or whole


Force that causes the molecules on the surface of a liquid to be pushed together and form a layer



Interfacial tension- Force causing each

liquid to resist breaking up into smaller particles

Theories of Emulsificati on

A. Surface Tension Theory

The use of surface active (surfactant) or wetting agents as emulsifiers and stabilizers lowers the interfacial tension of the two immiscible liquids, reducing the repellent force between the liquids. They facilitate the breaking up of large globules into smaller ones, which then have a lesser tendency to reunite or coalesce.

B. Oriented-Wedge theory

Assumes monomolecular layers of emulsifying agent curved around a droplet of the internal phase of the emulsion It is based on the presumption that certain emulsifying agents orient themselves about and within a liquid in a manner reflective of their solubility in that particular liquid.

C. Plastic or Interfacial Theory

Emulsifying agent is at the interface between the oil and water as a thin layer of film adsorbed on the surface of the drops.

The film prevents contact and coalescing of the dispersed phase; the tougher and more pliable the film, the greater the stability of the emulsion.

Emulsifying Agent
Compatible with the other formulative ingredients Does not interfere with the stability or efficacy of the therapeutic agent Stable Nontoxic Possess little odor, taste, or color Most Importan t Capability to promote emulsification and to maintain the stability of the emulsion for the intended shelf life of the product

Carbohydrate Materials

These materials form Ex. Acacia, hydrophilic colloids which tragacanth, agar, chondrus, when added to water generally and pectin produce o/w emulsions.

Preparation of extemporaneo us emulsions

Tragaca nth and agar


Microcrys talline cellulose

Viscosity regulator to retard particle settling and provide

Protein substances

These substances produce o/w emulsions.

The disadvantage of gelatin: The emulsion frequently is too fluid and becomes for fluid upon standing

Ex. Gelatin, egg yolk, and casein

Highmolecular-weight alcohols
Ex. Stearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, and glyceryl monostearate

Employed primarily as thickening agents and stabilizers for o/w emulsions of certain lotions and ointments used externally. Cholesterol and cholesterol derivatives may also be employed in externally used emulsions to promote w/o emulsions.

Wetting agents

These agents contain both hydrophilic and lipophilic groups, with the lipophilic protein of the molecule generally accounting for the surface activity of the molecule.
Anionic Negatively Charges Cationic Positively charged Nonionic Neutral (no inclination to ionize)


Triethanolamine oleate and sulfonates (ex. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) pH greater than 8

Benzalkonium chloride

Sorbitan esters & polyoxyethylene derivatives


pH range of 3 to 7

pH range of 3 to 10

Finely divided solids

Ex. colloidal clays, including bentonite, magnesium hydroxide, and aluminum hydroxide.

Generally, forms o/w emulsions when the insoluble material is added to the aqueous phase if there is a greater volume of the aqueous phase than of the oleaginous phase. If the powdered solid is added to the oil and the oleaginous phase volume predominates, a substance such as bentonite is capable of forming a w/o emulsion.

Finely divided solids

Internal concentration , viscosity of the emulsion to a certain point, after which the viscosity decreases sharply. Inversion,
changed from an o/w emulsion If without inversion, there to a w/o,

should be at least 75% of the volume of the product being internal phase.

The HLB System

Method of categorizing emulsifying or surfaceactive agent based on their chemical makeup as to their hydrophillipophil balance, or HLB. Although the numbers have been assigned up to about 40, the usual range is 1-20. HLB value of 3 to 6 are greatly lipophilic and produce w/o emulsions HLB values of about 8 to 18 produce o/w emulsions.

The HLB System

Mineral Oil Values are also assigned to HLB value = 4; for w/o emulsions 10.5; for o/w oils and oil-like substances HLB value= emulsions

To prepare a stable emulsion, the emulsifying agent should have an HLB value similar to the one for mineral oil, depending on the type of emulsion desired.

Methods of Emulsion Preparation

Small scale

Dry Wedgwood or porcelain mortar and pestle, a mechanical blender or mixer, such as a Waring blender or a milkshake mixer, a hand homogenizer, a bench-type homogenizer, or sometimes a simple prescription bottle. Continental or dry gum method
Emulsifying agent (acacia) + oil + water = Dry gum

English or wet gum method Emulsifying agent + water to form a mucilage + oil is slowly incorporated = Wet gum Bottle or Forbes bottle method Reserved for volatile oils or less viscous oils and is a variation of the dry gum method

Small scale

Methods of Emulsion Preparation

Large scale

Large mixing tanks may be through the action of a high-speed impeller. The product may be rendered finer by passage through a colloid mill, in which the particles are sheared between the small gap separating a high-speed rotor and the stator, or by passage through a large homogenizer, in which the liquid is forced under great pressure through a small valve opening. Industrial homogenizers have the capacity to handle as much as 100,000L of product per hour.

Large scale

Continental or Dry Gum Method (4:2:1)

Primary Emulsion 1. Triturate the acacia or other o/w emulsifier is triturated with the oil in a perfectly dry Wedgwood or porcelain mortar until thoroughly mixed 2. The two parts of water are added all at once, and the mixture is triturated immediately, rapidly, and continuously until the primary emulsion is creamy white and produces a crackling sound to the movement of the pestle. 3. When all necessary agents have been added, the emulsion is transferred to a graduate and made to volume with water previously swirled about in the mortar to remove the last portion of emulsion.

Solid substances such as preservatives, stabilizers, colorants, and any flavoring material are usually dissolved in a suitable volume of water (assuming water is the external phase) and added as a solution to the primary emulsion.

Continental or Dry Gum Method (4:2:1)

Any substances that might interfere with the stability of the emulsion or the emulsifying agent are added as near last as is practical. For instance, alcohol has a precipitating action on gums such as acacia.

Sometimes, however, the amount of acacia must be adjusted upward to ensure that an emulsion can be produced. For example, volatile oils, liquid petrolatum (mineral oil), and linseed oil usually require a 3:2:1 or 2:2:1 ratio for adequate preparation.

English or Wet Gum Method

Primary emulsion (4:2:1) 1. A mucilage of the gum is prepared by triturating in a mortar granular acacia with twice its weight of water. 2. The oil is then added slowly in portions, and the mixture is triturated to emulsify the oil. 3. The emulsion is transferred to a graduated cylinder and brought to volume with water.

Bottle or Forbes Bottle Method

1. 2. 3. 4.


Useful for the extemporaneous preparation of emulsions from volatile oils or oleaginous substances of low viscosities. Powdered acacia is placed in a dry bottle Two parts of oil are added Mixture is thoroughly shaken in the capped container A volume of water approximately equal to that of the oil is then added in portions and the mixture thoroughly shaken after each addition. Primary emulsion thus formed may be diluted to the proper volume with water or an aqueous solution of other formulative agents. This method is not suited for viscous oils because they cannot be thoroughly agitated in the bottle when mixed with the emulsifying agent. When the intended dispersed phase is a mixture of fixed oil and volatile oil, the dry gum method is generally employed.

Auxiliary Methods

Hand homogenizer, the pumping action of the handle forces the emulsion through a very small orifice that reduces the globules of the internal phase to about 5 m and sometimes less. The hand homogenizer is less efficient in reducing the particle size of very thick emulsions, and it should not be employed for emulsions containing a high proportion of solid matter because of possible damage to the valve.

In Situ Soap Method 1. Calcium soaps

- W/O emulsions that Fatty acid is oleic acid Emulsifying agent is contain certain vegetable oils, calcium Oleate such as oleic acid, in combination with limewater (CaOH). - Prepared simply by mixing equal volumes of the oil and limewater -emulsifying agent is the calcium salt of the free fatty acid formed from the combination of the two entities.

Olive oil

In Situ Soap Method

Difficulty: Amount of free fatty acids in the oil may be insufficient on a 1:1 basis with CaOH. A little excess of the olive oil, or even a small amount of oleic acid, is needed to ensure a nice, homogeneous emulsion. Otherwise, tiny droplets of water form on the surface of the preparation. ideal where occlusion and skin softening are desired, such as for itchy, dry skin or sunburned

2. Soft Soaps


Thermodynamically stable, optically transparent isotropic mixtures of a biphasic o/w system stabilized with surfactants. Microemulsions- 100 A (10 millimicrons) to 1000A diameter Macroemulsion- 5000 A in diameter Both o/w and w/o microemulsions may be formed spontaneously by agitating the oil and water phases with carefully selected surfactants. The type of emulsion produced depends on the properties of the oil and surfactants.


Hydrophilic surfactants( HLB range of 15 to 18 ) - transparent o/w emulsions of many oils, including flavor oils and vitamin oils such as A, D, and E. These emulsions are dispersions of oil, not true solutions; however, because of the appearance of the product, the surfactant is Surfactants: Polysorbate 60 and commonly said to solubilize the oil.
Polysorbate 80

Advantages of Microemulsions in drug delivery




More rapid and efficient oral absorption of drugs than through solid dosage forms Enhanced transdermal drug delivery through increased diffusion into the skin Unique potential application of microemulsions in the development of artificial red blood cells and targeting of cytotoxic drugs to cancer cells


Physically unstable
-Internal or dispersed phase tends to form aggregates of globules upon standing -Large globules or aggregates of globules rise to the top or fall to the bottom of the emulsion to form a concentrated layer of the internal phase -All or part of the liquid of the internal phase separates and forms a distinct layer on the top or bottom of the emulsion as a result of the coalescing of the globules of the internal phase- may be adversely affected by microbial contamination and growth and by other chemical and physical alterations.

Creaming of the emulsion

Aggregation and Coalescence

(The term is taken from the dairy industry and is analogous to creaming, or rising to the top of cream in milk that is allowed to stand)

preparation of the globules; coalescence is absent it is a reversible process; creamed portion of an emulsion may be redistributed rather homogeneously upon shaking not esthetically acceptable to the pharmacist or appealing to the consumer and it increases the risk that the globules will coalesce.


Mineral Oil Emulsion

Mineral oil 500 mL Also called liquid petrolatum emulsion; an o/w emulsion Method of preparation: dry gum method Acacia (finely mL 125 g powdered) (4:2:1) Syrup 100 mL Use: Lubricating cathartic Vanillin 40 mg Usual dose: 30mL; Plain Alcohol 60 mL Purified water, 1000mL (unemulsified) mineral oil, 15mL to make The emulsion is much more Cathartic agents : palatable than the phenolphthalein, milk of unemulsified oil. Both are best magnesia, agar & others taken an hour before bedtime.

Castor Oil Emulsion

Use: laxative for isolated bouts of constipation and in preparation of the colon for radiography and endoscopic examination. The castor oil in the emulsion works directly on the small intestine to promote bowel movement. This and other laxatives should not be used regularly or excessively, as they can lead to dependence for bowel movement. Overuse of castor oil may cause excessive loss of water and body electrolytes, which can have a debilitating effect. Laxatives should not be used when Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain is present, because these symptoms may indicate appendicitis, and use of a laxative in this instance could promote rupturing of the appendix. The amount of castor oil in commercial emulsions varies from about 35% to 67%. Generally, for an emulsion containing about two-thirds oil, the adult dose is 45mL, about three tablespoonfuls. For children 2 to 6 years of age, 15 mL is usually sufficient, and for children less than 2 years of age, 5 mL may be given. Castor oil is best taken on an empty stomach, followed with one full glass of water.

Simethicone Emulsion

A water-dispersible form of simethicone used as a defoaming agent for the relief of painful symptoms of excessive gas in the gastrointestinal tract. Simethicone emulsion works in the stomach and intestines by changing the surface tension of gas bubbles, enabling them to coalesce, freeing the gas for easier elimination.

The emulsion in drop form is useful for relief of gas in infants due to colic, air swallowing, or lactose intolerance. The commercial product (Mylicon Drops, AstraZeneca) contains 40mg of simethicone per 0.6mL. Simethicone is also present in a number of antacid formulations (e.g., Mylanta, Johnson & Johnson Merck) as a therapeutic adjunct to relieve the discomfort of gas.

Simethicone Emulsion

Many of the hand and body lotions used to treat dry skin are o/w emulsions. A number of topical emulsions, or lotions, are used therapeutically to deliver a drug systemically. An example is Estrasorb (Novavax, King Pharmaceuticals), Which contains estradiol for use in the treatment of hot flashes and Night sweats accompanying menopause.


Corticosteroid-containing emulsions include Lotrimin AF (clotrimazole, Schering-Plough) and Diprolene (augmented betamethasone dipropionate, Schering).