Improved oil solubilization in oil/water food grade microemulsions in the presence of polyols and ethanol

J Agric Food Chem. 2001 May;49(5):2552-62. doi: 10.1021/jf001390b.


Microemulsions based on five-component mixtures for food applications and improved oil solubilization have been studied. The compositions included water, oil phase [such as R(+)-limonene and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT)], short-chain alcohols (such as ethanol), polyols (propylene glycol and glycerol), and several surfactants and their corresponding mixtures (nonionic, such as ethoxylated sorbitan esters, polyglycerol esters, sugar ester, and anionic, such as phosphatidylcholine). The phase behavior of these systems is discussed with respect to the influence of polyols and short-chain alcohols on the degree of solubilization of oils in the aqueous phase. The alcohol and polyols modify the interfacial spontaneous curvature and the flexibility of the surfactant film, enhancing the oil solubilization capacity of the microemulsions. The solubilization of R(+)-limonene was dramatically improved in the presence of the alcohol and polyols, whereas the improvement of solubilization for triglycerides containing MCT was less pronounced. In some systems high oil solubilization was achieved, and some of them can be easily diluted to infinity both with the aqueous phase and with the oil phase. Viscosity measurements along selected dilution lines [characterized by a single continuous microemulsion region starting from a pseudo binary solution (surfactant/oil phase) to the microemulsion (water/polyol corner)] indicate that at a certain composition the system inverts from a W/O to an O/W microemulsion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Emulsions
  • Ethanol / chemistry*
  • Oils*
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Solubility
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Viscosity
  • Water*


  • Emulsions
  • Oils
  • Polymers
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • polyol
  • Water
  • Ethanol