In 1949, while working as a chemist at the Atlas Powder Company, William C. (Bill) Griffin developed the HLB System. HLB stands for `Hydrophile-Lipophile Balance` and is a measure of the relative proportions of water-soluble and oil soluble components in a surfactant. For any given surfactant function, such as detergency, emulsification or wetting, there is usually an optimum HLB value. Current emulsion technology dictates that the surfactants' HLB in a system must match the HLB requirement of the insoluble materials. The HLB Calculator is an Excel Worksheet based on that system that quickly and easily allows the formulator to calculate HLB requirements for cosmetic formulations.
So, what is the HLB System?
The polar (hydrophilic) aqueous phase and the apolar (lipophilic) lipid or oil phase of an emulsion cannot be combined stably and homogenously without additives. The surface tension at the interface between these two phases must be reduced by the addition of emulsifiers.
Emulsifiers are surface active substances that reduce the surface tension between polar and apolar phases by penetrating into the interface between the oil and the water phase. This occurs because of their amphiphilic molecular structure, i.e. they consist of both hydrophilic (polar) and lipophilic (apolar) molecular regions and are thus soluble in both the hydrophilic and the lipophilic phase.
Emulsifiers can be classified according to their differing proportions of lipophilic and hydrophilic molecular structures. This ratio is characterized by the HLB value (hydrophilic-lipophilic balance), a measure of the water affinity (hydrophilicity) or lipid affinity (lipophilicity) of the emulsifier.
Emulsifiers are classified on a scale from 0 to 20, emulsifiers with HLB values <10 being more lipophilic molecules that are more inclined to solubilize in the oil phase and thus tend to form Water-In-Oil (W/O) emulsions. Emulsifiers with HLB values >10 are hydrophilic emulsifiers, they exhibit a higher water solubility and tend to form Oil-In-Water (O/W) emulsions or are used as solubilizers.
The practical result is the following correlation between the HLB value of an emulsifier/solubilizer and the area of application:
|3-8||Water-In-Oil (W/O) Emulsifiers|
|8-15||Oil-In-Water (O/W) Emulsifiers|
This HLB (Hydrophile-Lipophile Balance System) Calculator requires very little input and will save many precious hours for those who do HLB calculations by hand. The following describes the basic use of the HLB Calculator.
The HLB Calculator is made up of four parts. All ingredients are added to the phases by using convenient drop down menus. There are four separate tabs (Water Phase, Oils & Waxes, Emulsifiers and Miscellaneous) that have many ingredients already in them. Any ingredients not found will need to be entered into the respective tab for that phase. When you leave the tab it will automatically put the items in alphabetical order.
Water Phase Enter all ingredients that go into the water phase excluding water. Since water percentage is automatically calculated, the total of the formula will always equal 100%.
Oil & Waxes Phase Enter all ingredients that would be included in this phase. HLB is automatically added. Enter the percentage of total for that oil/wax and the overall portion of HLB that the oil contributes to the mix will be calculated.
Emulsifying Phase HLB is achieved by balancing the two emulsifiers to achieve the weighted HLB of the oils from the oil phase. The program will not allow the use of emulsifiers that would produce an incorrect balance. First enter the percentage of total for the emulsifiers. The actual percentage of each emulsifier will be calculated based on the weighted HLB of the oils and waxes. The first emulsifier should have an HLB lower than the weighted HLB of the oils and waxes. The second emulsifier should have an HLB higher than the weighted HLB of the oils and waxes. There are normally wide ranges of emulsifiers that meet those requirements.
Misc. Phase This phase is for Fragrance, Essential Oils and preservatives.
A bonus with this calculator is the Formulary tab. All the values from the calculator are carried over into the Formulary tab. By entering the size of the batch and the units, i.e. 16 oz, the weight of each ingredient for the formula will be calculated. Next, print out the page and the recipe is ready!
The HLB Calculator is to be used by people that already know the HLB System or are in the process of learning it. The HLB System is not a foolproof system. It's a tool. There are a number of ingredients that have different required HLB values and HLB values. For example: Lecithin has a HLB value of 4-9 depending on the manufacturer. You will need to know the required HLB of your Lecithin according to the manufacturer from which it was purchased. A large list of required HLB and HLB values is included in this calculator. The user will have to change any values that may differ from the ones in the calculator to reflect the values of the ingredients the formulator is using.
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