How Does Liquid Detergent Emulsifies Coconut Oil And Water?


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Abi Ainscough answered
The reason why liquid detergent emulsifies a mixture of coconut oil and water is quite a complex one, and requires a good grasp of chemistry. However, the following explanation has been made as simple as possible, so that even if you do not have a good understanding of chemistry, it should make sense to you.

  • Liquid detergent has a unique make-up

Liquid detergent primarily consists of two different substances, which are attached together when the detergent is alone (not mixed with another product). Particles of these two substances are linked to form the detergent. When linked together, the structure of these two particles consists of a "head" and a "tail". The head of the particle is hydrophilic sulfur, and the tail is hydrophobic hydrocarbon.

  • The head and the tail dissolve separately

When detergent is added to a mixture of coconut oil and water, the head dissolves when it comes into contact with the water. The tail dissolves when it comes into contact with the coconut oil. As a result, the jug containing the detergent, coconut oil and water contains two separate substances, even though they are mixed together - and each substance contains a little bit of detergent.

  • Movement of the solution triggers emulsification

When the water and detergent mixture moves within the jug, this causes the coconut oil and detergent mixture to emulsify. This is because the coconut oil and detergent mixture is "charged", and the movement of the water and detergent mixture puts another, equal charge on the coconut oil, causing droplets to form. 

  • What is an emulsion?

An emulsion is the name used to describe a phenomenon which occurs when two liquids are mixed together. If, rather than each dissolving in the other, and the particles dispersing, one liquid forms droplets within the other liquid, then the two liquids combined are known as an emulsion.

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