The Pharmaceutics and Compounding Laboratory
Emulsions:
Preparation and Stabilization

Continental (Dry Gum, or 4:2:1) Method

The continental method is used to prepare the initial or primary emulsion from oil, water, and a hydrocolloid or "gum" type emulsifier (usually acacia). The primary emulsion, or emulsion nucleus, is formed from 4 parts oil, 2 parts water, and 1 part emulsifier. The 4 parts oil and 1 part emulsifier represent their total amounts for the final emulsion.

In a mortar, the 1 part gum is levigated with the 4 parts oil until the powder is thoroughly wetted; then the 2 parts water are added all at once, and the mixture is vigorously and continually triturated until the primary emulsion formed is creamy white and produces a "crackling" sound as it is triturated (usually 3-4 minutes).

Additional water or aqueous solutions may be incorporated after the primary emulsion is formed. Solid substances (e.g., active ingredients, preservatives, color, flavors) are generally dissolved and added as a solution to the primary emulsion. Oil soluble substance, in small amounts, may be incorporated directly into the primary emulsion. Any substance which might reduce the physical stability of the emulsion, such as alcohol (which may precipitate the gum) should be added as near to the end of the process as possible to avoid breaking the emulsion. When all agents have been incorporated, the emulsion should be transferred to a calibrated vessel, brought to final volume with water, then homogenized or blended to ensure uniform distribution of ingredients.