Tag Archive: Dispersions

Dec 03 2012

Pique the Geek 20121202: Emulsification

Before we begin tonight, please join me in paying my respects to my mum, who would have been 91 years old today.  The season beginning with Thanksgiving and lasting through New Year’s Day was her favorite of the year, and she showed lots of love to everyone during this time.  But she showed lots of love all year ’round.

The definition of an emulsion is two dissimilar liquids that are dispersed into a more of less long lasting mixture that has properties different than either of the two liquids.  I say dissimilar because in most cases one of the liquids is hydrophopic (literally, “water fearing”, often an oil or hydrocarbon) and the other one hydrophilic (literally, “water loving”, often water itself).

The old adage that oil and water do not mix is only partially true.  It is possible to make them mix, and it is often done intentionally.  Sometimes it happens upon accident, and we organic chemists know that when the synthetic product that we seek to isolate forms an emulsion with the solvent and/or other materials in the separatory funnel that is easy to become piqued by that.