The HLB “Hydrophile-Lipophile Balance” system provides a useful guide to help save time in surfactant selection. HLB is a value to describe the balance of size and strength of the hydrophilic (water-loving or polar) and the lipophilic (oil-loving or non-polar) groups of the surfactant. When the HLB value is matched to the HLB requirement in a formulation, the formulation provides good performance (i.e. more stable).
A surfactant that is lipophilic in character is assigned a low HLB number <9.0, and one that is hydrophilic is assigned a high HLB number >11.0. Those in the range 9-11 are intermediate.
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