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Colloid vs. Emulsion: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Updated on October 6, 2023
A colloid is a mixture in which one substance is dispersed evenly throughout another, while an emulsion is a specific type of colloid where both substances are liquids.

Key Differences

Colloid and Emulsion both refer to mixtures of substances, but they serve different specifics.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023
A colloid is a general term for any mixture in which one substance is divided into small particles and dispersed throughout another substance. These mixtures can include solids, liquids, and gases in various combinations.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023
For instance, milk is a colloid because it contains butterfat particles spread throughout a watery solution. Emulsion, on the other hand, is a more specific term. It describes a colloid in which both substances involved are liquids. Typically, these two liquids don't mix well, like oil and water. When these two are mixed and become an emulsion, small droplets of one liquid spread throughout the other. Mayonnaise, for instance, is an emulsion made from oil and vinegar, among other ingredients.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023
Thus, while all emulsions are colloids, not all colloids are emulsions.
Harlon Moss
Oct 06, 2023
The importance of understanding the distinction between colloid and emulsion often comes to the fore in fields such as food science, chemistry, and pharmacology. While the former is a broad categorization of mixtures, the latter delves into the specific interaction between two liquid phases.
Sara Rehman
Oct 06, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Definition

Mixture with particles dispersed in another phase
Specific colloid with both phases being liquid
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023

Examples

Fog, gel, milk
Mayonnaise, milk, vinaigrette
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Oct 06, 2023

Components

Can be solid, liquid, or gas
Always involves two immiscible liquids
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Oct 06, 2023

Stability

Can be stable or unstable
Often requires stabilizers to prevent separation
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Oct 06, 2023

Particle Size

Typically between 1 nm and 1 μm
Similar to colloids but specific to liquid-liquid
Aimie Carlson
Oct 06, 2023
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Colloid and Emulsion Definitions

Colloid

A system in which particles are dispersed in a continuous phase of a different composition.
Whipped cream is a colloid with air dispersed in cream.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023

Emulsion

A fine dispersion of minute droplets of one liquid in another in which it is not soluble.
Vinaigrettes are emulsions of oil in vinegar.
Janet White
Oct 06, 2023

Colloid

A substance microscopically dispersed throughout another substance.
Butter is a water-in-fat colloid.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023

Emulsion

Two immiscible liquids mixed together, typically with the aid of an emulsifying agent.
Mayonnaise is an oil-in-water emulsion stabilized by egg yolk.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023

Colloid

A heterogeneous mixture with particle size between a solution and a suspension.
Milk is a colloid of fat particles in water.
Janet White
Oct 06, 2023

Emulsion

A liquid mixture that contains small globules of another liquid.
A photographic film contains an emulsion of light-sensitive compounds.
Sara Rehman
Oct 06, 2023

Colloid

A mixture that doesn't settle or separate.
Gelatin desserts are colloids that remain consistent.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 06, 2023

Emulsion

A colloidal system in which both phases are liquids.
Cream is an emulsion of fat droplets in water.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023

Colloid

A system in which finely divided particles, which are approximately 1 to 1,000 millimicrons in size, are dispersed within a continuous medium in a manner that prevents them from being filtered easily or settled rapidly.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Emulsion

A suspension of small globules of one liquid in a second liquid with which the first will not mix
An emulsion of oil in vinegar.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Colloid

The particulate matter so dispersed.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Emulsion

A photosensitive coating, usually of silver halide grains in a thin gelatin layer, on photographic film, paper, or glass.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Colloid

The gelatinous stored secretion of the thyroid gland, consisting mainly of thyroglobulin.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Emulsion

A stable suspension of small droplets of one liquid in another with which it is immiscible.
Mayonnaise is an emulsion where egg is used to keep oil and water mixed.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Colloid

Gelatinous material resulting from degeneration in diseased tissue.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Emulsion

(chemistry) A colloid in which both phases are liquid.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Colloid

Of, relating to, containing, or having the nature of a colloid.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Emulsion

(photography) The coating of photosensitive silver halide grains in a thin gelatine layer on a photographic film.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Colloid

Glue-like; gelatinous.
Colloid tumours
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Emulsion

Any liquid preparation of a color and consistency resembling milk; as: (a) In pharmacy, an extract of seeds, or a mixture of oil and water united by a mucilaginous substance. (b) In photography, a liquid preparation of collodion holding salt of silver, used in the photographic process.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Colloid

(chemistry) A stable system of two phases, one of which is dispersed in the other in the form of very small droplets or particles.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Emulsion

(chemistry) a colloid in which both phases are liquids;
An oil-in-water emulsion
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Colloid

(meteorology) An intimate mixture of two substances, one of which, called the dispersed phase (or colloid), is uniformly distributed in a finely divided state throughout the second substance, called the dispersion medium (or dispersing medium).
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Emulsion

A light-sensitive coating on paper or film; consists of fine grains of silver bromide suspended in a gelatin
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Colloid

(geology) A particle less than 1 micron in diameter, following the Wentworth scale
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Emulsion

A stable suspension of one liquid in another with which it is immiscible.
Some skincare products are water-in-oil emulsions.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 06, 2023

Colloid

Resembling glue or jelly; characterized by a jellylike appearance; gelatinous; as, colloid tumors.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Colloid

A substance (as albumin, gum, gelatin, etc.) which is of a gelatinous rather than a crystalline nature, and which diffuses itself through animal membranes or vegetable parchment more slowly than crystalloids do; - opposed to crystalloid.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Colloid

A gelatinous substance found in colloid degeneration and colloid cancer.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Colloid

A mixture with properties between those of a solution and fine suspension
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 01, 2023

Colloid

Material composed of very fine particles suspended in another medium.
Fog is a colloid of water droplets in air.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023

FAQs

What's the primary difference between colloid and emulsion?

Emulsion is a colloid where both substances are liquids.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023

Can gases be involved in colloids?

Yes, gases can be dispersed in colloidal systems, like fog.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023

Is milk an emulsion or colloid?

Milk is both: it's a colloid with an emulsion of fat in water.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023

Can you turn an emulsion into a non-emulsion?

Yes, by causing it to separate or break.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023

Are gels considered colloids?

Yes, gels are a type of colloid.
Sara Rehman
Oct 06, 2023

Are all emulsions colloids?

Yes, all emulsions are a type of colloid.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023

Do emulsions always require an emulsifying agent?

Not always, but many do to maintain stability.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 06, 2023

Can colloids be seen with the naked eye?

Often, colloidal particles are too small to be seen individually but can scatter light.
Sara Rehman
Oct 06, 2023

What happens when an emulsion breaks?

The two liquids separate into distinct layers.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023

Is mayonnaise an emulsion?

Yes, it's an oil-in-water emulsion.
Sara Rehman
Oct 06, 2023

How are emulsions used in paints?

Water-based paints often have pigment particles dispersed in an emulsion.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023

Can emulsions be found in pharmaceuticals?

Yes, some drug formulations are emulsions.
Harlon Moss
Oct 06, 2023

Why is homogenization used in milk processing?

To break fat into smaller droplets, creating a stable emulsion.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 06, 2023

Why do some emulsions separate over time?

Without stabilizers, the immiscible liquids might separate due to their differing properties.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023

What's a real-world example of a colloid?

Smoke is a colloid of solid particles in gas.
Harlon Moss
Oct 06, 2023

What keeps the particles suspended in a colloid?

Brownian motion and charge distribution prevent settling.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023

What role does particle size play in colloids?

Particle size affects dispersion, stability, and light-scattering properties.
Harlon Moss
Oct 06, 2023

Are colloids always liquid-based?

No, they can involve solids, liquids, and gases.
Janet White
Oct 06, 2023

Why is understanding colloids important in food science?

Many foods are colloidal systems, affecting texture and stability.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023

Can emulsions be oil-in-oil?

Typically no, emulsions involve two immiscible liquids.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 06, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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