Hydrophile-Lipophile Balance (HLB)

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Hydrophilic lipophile balance (HLB) is the balance of the size and strength of the hydrophilic and lipophilic moieties of a surfactant molecule. The HLB scale of non-ionic surfactants ranges from 0 to 20. The HLB value can be used to predict the surfactant properties of a molecule (see Fig. 1). Lower HLB values are an indication of high oil affinity. High HLB values, on the other hand, indicate high water-solubility.

HLB scaleFig. 1 HLB scale

Calculation of HLB

There are several ways to calculate the HLB, Griffin's method, Davies' method and estimation method.

  • Griffin's method

Griffin's method for non-ionic surfactants as described in 1954 works as follows:

Griffin's methodFig. 1 HLB scale

where Mh is the molecular mass of the hydrophilic portion of the molecule, and M is the molecular mass of the whole molecule, giving a result on a scale of 0 to 20. An HLB value of 0 corresponds to a completely lipophilic/hydrophobic molecule, and a value of 20 corresponds to a completely hydrophilic/lipophobic molecule.

  • Davies' method

In the Davies method, the computation is based upon different group numbers that are assigned to hydrophilic or lipophilic structural groups in a molecule. The following equation is used in the calculation:
HLB = 7 + Σ(hydrophilic group numbers) + Σ(lipophilic group numbers)

  • Estimation method

The following equation is used to calculate the total HLB of a mixture of components:

Griffin's method

Enter the % proportion of the component and its HLB value
(leave remaining rows as 0)

 % of ComponentHLB value
Component 1(HLB value {0-20})
Component 2(HLB value {0-20})
Component 3(HLB value {0-20})
Component 4(HLB value {0-20})
Component 5(HLB value {0-20})
HLB of Mixture (HLB)

Chemists from Alfa Chemistry have a great deal of experience in the tests of chemicals. Our experienced chemists are pleased to work with you to solve your problems in scientific research and industrial applications. If you have any problems in calculating HLB, please feel free to contact us for help.

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