Emulsifiers have a significant role in the food industry because they help in the preservation of the freshness of food and in achieving the desired texture of these preserved foods. There are natural emulsifiers such as eggs, milk, and mustard but most foods, though, need emulsifiers to preserve their freshness. Examples of these foods are ice cream, yogurts, icings and salads dressings.
Health and beauty products need emulsifiers too. This is because emulsifiers are also important in bath and body products by acting as a polar or non-polar component of perfumes with or without oils. There are polar scents that are water based, and non-polar scents, which are oil based. The polar based are easily dissolved in water, while the non-polar are insoluble in water.
The polar based are called aqueous and are hydrophilic (water-loving), while the non-polar based, consisting of fragrances and scents, are hydrophobic (water-hating) or lipophilic (non-polar). A separation usually occurs between these polar and non-polar chemicals and this is where emulsifiers come in. Their role as a binding agent can never be discounted.
Adding an emulsifier would allow the mixture of both the water and oil based preparations to create a homogenous solution. The emulsifier can do this because it has a head that is hydrophilic and a tail that is lipophilic. This makes it possible for the production of a stable emulsion between the polar and non-polar substances. Without the emulsifier, water and oil-based mixtures would never be able to mix.
Aside from acting as a binding agent between hydrophilic and lipophilic substances, emulsifiers could also act as crystallization inhibitors, starch-complexing substances, and aerating chemicals. They have multiple importances in several fields. Their role between polar and non-polar substances is also essential to the production of stable emulsions.
These emulsions are classified into oil and water. The oil in water emulsion is characterized by droplets of oil dispersed in a greater volume of water. The emulsifier coats the oils so that they could mix with the water. On the other hand, the water in oil emulsion is the opposite of the first type. The water droplets are dispersed into the greater volume of water. The emulsifier coats the water with its lipophilic substance so that the water droplets could mix with the oil creating a stable solution.
Knowing these two types of emulsions would be vital in producing creams, lotions and other health and beauty products. Emulsifiers make it possible to produce these two significant products for the effective and maximum use of man.
In oiled-based recipes, the oil comes in contact with the skin first because the water is encased within the oil immersion. This is advantageous when the oil needs to come in contact with the skin first to optimize its beneficial effects.
In water-based preparations, the water comes in contact with the skin first, allowing moisture to enter the skin. This is good when one of the purposes of the emulsion is to moisturize the skin. Either way, emulsifiers play a crucial role in ensuring that these products are stable and effective.