For many consumer beverages, the even mixture and distribution of ingredients, known as homogeneity, may be nothing more than a measure of visual aesthetics and personal preference. This is not the case for beverages containing cannabinoids such as CBD, where the CBD should be evenly dispersed so that the first sip has the same amount of cannabinoids as the last. The best way for a product producer to deliver cannabinoids in a way that ensures this even distribution, stability over time, and accurate label claims is through a water-soluble emulsion…but not all emulsions are created equally.
What Is an Emulsion?
An emulsion is a combination of two or more liquids which won’t mix, like oil and vinegar in a salad dressing. Emulsions provide a pathway to present these two liquids as a uniform mixture. By definition, emulsions are unstable and will eventually break (ie: the oil and vinegar in the dressing eventually separating); however, in a well-formulated emulsion, the separation process can be slowed.
What makes two liquids immiscible? In the case of water and CBD, water is a fat and oil-fearing molecule, whereas CBD is a water-fearing molecule, so by nature, they repel one another. Most oils used for foods and cooking like olive oil and canola oil are considered water-fearing.
How a Cannabinoid Emulsion Functions in an Infused Product
As many infused product developers know, cannabinoids can be tricky ingredients to work with, since oil-based ingredients are not always easy to add to a product. One aspect of cannabinoid extract that proves challenging is the sensory profile, which can be undesirable to some consumers because of its slightly bitter taste and “weedy” smell. It can also be hard to tell if the oil has been evenly dispersed in the mix, which could result in inaccurate dosing and inaccurate label claims.
Working with an emulsified version of the cannabinoid extract solves both of those problems. In an infused food or beverage, a cannabinoid emulsion acts in the following ways.
- It isolates the negative sensory aspects of the cannabinoid;
- It enhances potential flavor profiles;
- It provides a highly uniform/homogeneous and stable platform for the active cannabinoids;
- It can be diluted and remain stable in a finished product.
How and Why Emulsions Fail
The enemy of any emulsion is gravity, which causes creaming and sedimentation. The emulsified particles remain intact, yet they concentrate at the top or bottom of the liquid. The result is a product with uneven cannabinoid distribution. With creaming, a thick, separated layer of the cannabinoid droplets forms at the top of the beverage. With sedimentation, the oil droplets move downward and settle at the bottom.
Two other indicators of a failed emulsion are coalescence and flocculation. In the case of coalescence, the oil droplets recombine and grow in size over time, resulting in a solid layer or “ring” forming at the top of the liquid. In the case of flocculation, the forces between the oil droplets are out of balance, leading to irregular collections of grouped droplets at the top of the beverage. Appropriate and suitable emulsifiers will stabilize the emulsified oil droplets, which in turn decreases the rate of coalescence and flocculation.
Product Stability and the Superiority of SōRSE
It is not just the formula that makes an emulsion successful, but the formulation combined with specific processing to ensure uniformity and safety. SōRSE’s water-soluble emulsion has been specifically designed to provide long-term uniformity, homogeneity, and stability over time, which are verified using a number of analytical techniques.
Particle size and distribution throughout the medium are equally important to homogeneity, stability and safety. Particle size also impacts the emulsion’s clarity and turbidity. As particle size decreases, the surface area of the oil increases, typically leading to an increase in stability.
How SōRSE Measures Homogeneity and Stability
SōRSE utilizes the Turbiscan, the recommended method for monitoring dispersed phase uniformity and stability over time. Backscattering compares multiple measurements taken over time. The Turbiscan utilizes static multiple light scattering to measure changes in the emulsion system via backscattered light and transmitted light. This verifies that SōRSE provides stability for up to one year.
SōRSE also uses High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) Chromatography to make qualitative observations and quantitative determinations by separating a solution into individual components based on molecular weight and the ability to flow through a medium.
Consistent small particle size with a narrow range is most beneficial for long-term stability. To determine particle size, SōRSE utilizes a high performance laser diffraction analyzer. This equipment determines particle size with sensors that detect wavelength, relative refractive index, and scattering angle, and gives the user a histogram of size variation. The distribution range given by the histogram allows further predictions and indications of stability.
To ensure a product is safe for human consumption, analyzing microbial contamination is critical. Any agricultural product like hemp can be a carrier, potentially leading to exposure to pathogens, pests, pesticides, and potential heavy metals. SōRSE utilizes multiple testing methods to ensure quality and microbial safety. Many products have a natural microbial load, including SōRSE and its raw ingredients. The preservative package ensures that the microbial count does not increase, and the product remains safe over its shelf life.
Some specific challenges working with cannabinoids include maintaining uniformity and stability; achieving desirable sensory; achieving quick, repeatable onset with predictable experience durations; and ease of use in manufacturing environments. With ease of manufacturing in mind, SōRSE’s water-based emulsion easily dilutes in either a tank or individual bottle environment. The two powder forms are designed for either dry mixing or tablet compression or, in the case of the agglomerate, easily reconstituted beverages. The emulsion’s uniformity ensures a predictable onset with near perfect dosing on a consistent basis, which is critical for building trust in the consumer who wants to be sure the product is delivering the amount of cannabinoids promised on the label.
If you are a product developer who has further questions about homogeneity and stability and how SōRSE might be the solution you need for your infused product, please reach out to schedule an exploratory call with us today.