Physical Properties

The properties of an emulsion depend largely on its composition and its mode of formation. Physical properties also control the stability of these systems. The formation of an emulsion is a function of the boundary tensions between the two liquid phases determining the type of emulsion as either w/o or o/w. Interfacial tensions also exist between the liquid phases and between the liquid and solid phases. The latter is usually a lower magnitude than that of a liquid-liquid interface.

The flow resistance of an emulsion is one of its most important properties. Viscosity measurements provide considerable information about the structure of emulsions and their stability. The viscosity of the continuous or external phase is of prime importance in overall emulsion viscosity. The viscosity of the oil components in a w/o emulsion is usually indicative of emulsion stability but has little significance in an o/w system.

Miscibility determines the emulsion type. An emulsion is readily dilutable by the liquid that constitutes the continuous phase. Therefore, o/w emulsions are readily miscible with water; conversely, w/o systems are readily miscible with oil. An emulsion remains stable as long as the interfacial film and emulsifying agents are not materially affected.

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