If you are an avid visitor of JavaLite, you most likely love chemistry as much as I do. To you, this experiment will probably be very familiar to you. However, if this is your first time visiting, firstly thank you, and secondly, get ready to see some chemistry in action. This experiment is a classic example of emulsion that is used every day all over the world in food manufacturing. This experiment is quite basic and can be done at home with a minimal amount of materials.

Goal:

This guide will show you how to perform a simple emulsion at home using a small amount of canola oil and an egg. This guide will take just a few minutes, if not seconds, and show emulsion very clearly.

Background Info (Theory):

Emulsion is a mixture of two liquids that would not normally mix. The separation of the two liquids usually happens because of a difference in polarity. The most common example is oil which is non-polar and water which is polar, and how they separate when added together. In this example the canola oil used is non-polar and the egg white is amphipathic but behaves mostly polar. When added together they don’t mix, and that is where the egg yolk comes in, as it is an emulsifier, which is an additive that helps two liquids mix.

Materials:

  • One egg
  • A few drops of Canola Oil (About 5mL)
  • Two bowls
  • A whisk (Both Manual and Electronic are good)
A Bowl, an Egg, a Whisk, and Canola Oil

The Procedure:

Step 1 (Setup):

The first thing you have to do is to clear your table or other working area, to make space for mixing. When you are ready take the bowls out and place them in your working area.

Step 2 (Egg separation):

For this experiment, you will be using the entire egg white and a small part of the egg yolk. Crack open the egg and separate the egg white into one bowl and the egg yolk into another bowl.

Step 3 (Liquid separation):

When you have the egg white separated, add the canola oil. You will see a clear separation between the two liquids, which is a good thing, this means that there wasn’t any egg yolk in the egg white mixture.

The small oval shaped part is the canola oil

Step 4 (Mixing time):

When the canola oil has been added to the egg white mixture, mix them together. You can use a manual whisk, but I chose an electronic whisk because I’m lazy. When you are done mixing, you will still see a clear separation between the liquids. The canola oil has separated into small bubbles, instead of mixing together with the egg white.

Small canola oil bubbles are clearly seen

Step 5 (Adding the Emulsifier):

Now is the time for the real chemistry. The egg yolk you set aside, will be used now, as you will have to take a small part of the egg yolk and add it to the egg white and canola oil mixture. I suggest whisking and destroying the egg yolk with a small spoon and then use that spoon to get the egg yolk into the egg white and canola oil mixture.

Egg yolk being added to egg white and canola oil mixture

Step 6 (The Emulsion itself):

Now that the egg yolk, which is the emulsifier, has been added, you should mix it into the mixture using a whisk. When you have been whisking for about 30 seconds to a minute, you can stop. Now you can see a completely homogenous yellow liquid with no separation. Now that is some cool science right there.

Fully homogeneous egg and canola oil mixture

Conclusion:

Thank you for reading through this experiment, and I hope that you learned a little bit about emulsion. As always if you have any questions or suggestions feel free to comment on this article below.
Extra suggestion: After you are done you have a mixture of egg and canola oil, which are the main ingredients in mayonnaise. So if you have the extra time, I’d suggest using your lab materials to create some home-made mayonnaise😋. (DISCLAIMER: Be sure that you use pasteurized eggs)

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