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How to emulsify oil & water

Just about everyone knows that oil and water don't mix. But, with a little help from an emulsifier, they do blend and thicken into familiar forms. Mayonnaise and lotion are both examples of how water, or water-based fluids such as vinegar, blend with the help of emulsification with water into a light, fluffy substance.

Separate two eggs. Discard the whites. Whisk the egg yolks together in a bowl.

Measure 1 cup oil. Add teaspoon by teaspoon to the egg yolks, whisking well between additions. After the mixture starts to thicken, when you have added about 1/4 cup of the oil, add 1/4 cup more oil in a thin stream as you continue to whisk briskly.

Whisk 1 tablespoon water into the oil and egg mix. Continue to stream the oil into the bowl, whisking continuously, and adding 2 more tablespoons of water at regular intervals. The egg yolk acts as a binder and allows you to mix the water and oil without the two separating. This is the basic principal behind mayonnaise and the end result will have a similar texture. Replacing the water with vinegar will make an edible mayonnaise spread.

Add 5 tablespoons oil and 3 tablespoons grated beeswax to the top of a double-boiler. Heat over low heat until the wax is melted into the oil.

Mix 1 teaspoon of water with 1/4 teaspoon borax. Add this mixture to the wax and oil.

Whisk the mixture together until it forms a lotion-like consistency. The borax and wax work together to emulsify the water and oil. Beeswax alone will emulsify the lotion, but the result will not be stable and the water and oil will eventually separate.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Oil
  • Beeswax
  • Borax
  • Egg
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About the Author

Shaunta Alburger has been a professional writer for 15 years. She's worked on staff at both major Las Vegas newspapers, as well as a rural Nevada weekly. Her first novel was published in 2014.