[Explained] What are the Properties and Applications of Emulsions?

 Properties of Emulsions

The size of the dispersed droplets in emulsions may be some what larger as compared to the size of the dispersed particles in sols. Still, emulsions are colloidal systems and exhibit all the properties exhibited by colloidal solutions eg Brownian Movement, Tyndall Effect, electrophoresis, coagulation etc.

 Emulsions can be broken into their constituent liquids by physical methods such as heating, freezing, centrifuging,etc, or by destroying the emulsifying agent by a suitable chemical method. The process of breaking an emulsion to yield the constituent liquids is called demulsification.

Applications of Emulsions

 Emulsions are very useful ins systems and find a number of applications. Some of the important applications of emulsions are given below:

  1.  A number of pharmaceuticals are prepared in the form of lotions, creams, and ointments which are emulsions of oil in water or water in oil type and are easily absorbed by the body. Similarly, many cosmetics are also sold as emulsions. Several oily drugs are also prepared as emulsions to facilitate their absorption.
  2. The concentration of sulfide ore by froth floatation process involves the treatment of  finely pulverized ore with an oil emulsion. When air is bubbled in the mixture, the ore particles present in the emulsion are carried to the surface in the form of foam and may be collected.
  3. Emulsifying properties of soaps and detergents are used in washing clothes, crockery etc. Soaps and detergents emulsify the greasy dirt and carry it away in the water used for washing.
  4. Digestion of fats in the facilitated by emulsification. A small amount of fat reacts with the alkaline solution of the intestine to form a sodium soap. The sodium soap thus formed emulsifies the rest of the fat. The helps digestive enzymes to carry out their functions in a better way and the fats gets digested easily.
In-spite of several applications useful in our daily life, formation of emulsions sometimes creates difficulties also. For example, some oil wells yield the constituent liquids by physical methods mentioned earlier.

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