Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Pickering Emulsion

  • Pickering Emulsion

    Posted by Herbnerd on March 27, 2014 at 8:57 am

    I have been asked to formulate a natural health supplement (my usual job) but the customer wants something a little different to what I am used to formulating.

    I can’t remember the full details, but the guts of it is a 10 mL serve, with:

    • 200 mg of oil, something like
    • 350 mg of Silica - Colloidal Anhydrous (Or Silicon Dioxide as it is known everywhere else)
    • Vitamin C (again, the issue of stabilising this in a liquid)
    • fruit juice - probably a 70 brix fruit juice concentrate
    • water,
    • Natural flavours - probably FTNFs,
    • natural colours
    • Citric acid,
    • potassium sorbate and
    • Sodium benzoate.

    In your esteemed opinions, is it possible to formulate this sort of product without the use of conventional surfactants and create an emulsion using Silica (if I need to increase the amount of silica to achieve this, I can do - I am sure the customer will agree).

    Would there be any benefit to increasing water viscosity using guar/xanthan/acacia gums to help stabilise. I know that Silicon Dioxide can be used to increase the viscosity of water, (Handbook of Pharmaceutical Excipients states 2-10% for suspending and thickening).

    I am somewhat limited by the customer’s refusal to use “chemicals” because they want to maintain a clean label and keep it as food-like as possible.

    So, in short, before I head to the lab to trial this formula, I would like to know your thoughts on achieving this?

    Thanks in advance, dear chaps.

    Herbnerd replied 9 years, 8 months ago 2 Members · 7 Replies
  • 7 Replies
  • Bobzchemist

    March 27, 2014 at 11:25 am

    It’s do-able, although the oil loading into the silica may be 2x too high.

    The trick might be to used fumed silica combined with calcium silicate at about a 10:1 ratio. Try silica in water, then add oils.
    Also, there are various guar/xanthan/acacia gums and gum derivatives that are said to emulsify. A weighting agent may be needed to keep the oils from creaming. Homogenization is critical
  • Bobzchemist

    March 27, 2014 at 11:28 am

    BTW, it probably isn’t possible to make a pickering emulsion with colloidal anhydrous silica, unless you have extremely powerful milling capability - the silica just aggregates too strongly when dry to get the particle size small enough.

  • Bobzchemist

    March 27, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    You could probably make this without the silica just by using gums for emulsification…

    Kemin also makes a natural emulsifier that is a soybean extract http://www.kemin.com/products/lysofix 
  • Herbnerd

    March 28, 2014 at 6:13 am

    Thanks for your comments @bobzchemist.

    Silica - I have to use this as part of the formulation anyway since the customer wants to make the Silica claim (about 47% Silica)  and that was why I was wondering whether I could use Silica to use a Pickering emulsion. I think the Silicon Dioxide we have at work is Aerosil (need to check the type) which is fumed silica (I believe, but happy to be corrected on this), and I like the idea of the Calcium Silicate.

    I did do a nutritional emultion a year or two back using roughly 1/3rd Sugar, 1/3rd Oil, 1/3rd water using gum arabic 2%, and Guar/Xanthan blend at about 0.2% and this created a nice mayonaise like emulsion.

    I guess I could try:

    • Acacia gum 2%
    • Guar/Xantham blend 0.2%
    • Silica 3.5%
    • Oil 2%
    • Everything else QS to fill

    I will let you know how I get on. Thanks for your thoughts

  • Bobzchemist

    March 28, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Due to the fact that Beaumont makes a natural vegetable wash, I was just at the IFT southeast suppliers day exhibit last week - there were a number of suppliers touting improved beverage emulsification with gums modified in some way. (There is no getting around homogenization, though.) I’ll try to find the literature I picked up. (Did anyone know that all flavored sodas are microemulsions? I didn’t)

    I have to admit that food and supplement technology was much more interesting that I thought it would be, and that there is much less cross-over between food and personal care than I thought there’d be. I think out of about 100 exhibitor tables, and 300-400 people, I only saw 4 or 5 sales reps that I knew.
    If anyone ever finds themselves able to go to one of these, I strongly recommend it - there are definitely great ideas available there for cosmetic chemists, particularly if you formulate natural products. (Be aware, though, that many of these companies don’t usually deal with cosmetics, so about half of the suppliers I talked to didn’t even know what an INCI name was)
  • Bobzchemist

    March 28, 2014 at 9:40 am

    A couple of suppliers for interesting food emulsifiers:  (In no particular order)

    Nexira Food

    TIC Gums
    In particular, OSA (Octenyl Succinic Acid) modified Gum Acacia/ Gum Arabic from TIC looked promising.
    I’ll try to find the rest of the literature later.
  • Herbnerd

    March 28, 2014 at 5:13 pm


    Thanks for that. The Guar/Xanthan blend is a TIC gum product, which along with the Acacia gum, worked very well when making a stable emulsion.

    Re Flavours being microemulsions (esp soda) yep - I did know that. I worked as a sales rep for a flavour house for a year. I sucked big time at sales and decided to go back to doing what I enjoy the most - being a lab rat!


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