A common method for choosing an emulsifier is the Hydrophilic-Lipophilic Balance (HLB) system which uses a scale of 0 to 20 based on their affinity for oil and water. Emulsifiers with low HLB-values are more lipophilic (bind oils), while higher HLB compounds are hydrophilic (bind water).
In general, emulsifiers with HLB-values of 3 – 8 give w/o-emulsions, whereas those with values of above 9 are more water-soluble and result in o/w-emulsions. The following list shows the emulsifier properties depending on their HLB Value:
HLB 1 - 3: Antifoaming Properties
HLB 3 - 8: w/o-Emulsification
HLB 7 - 9: Wetting Properties
HLB 9 - 18: o/w-Emulsification
HLB 15 - 20: Solubilizing Properties

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