Milling and Micronizing

By: Gary Wada on Apr 23, 2015

One of the critical characteristics often overlooked in processing is raw material particle size and morphology. A gram of a smaller particle has much more surface area than a gram of a larger particle. This amount of surface area affects the rate of solubility. Therefore the particle size can have an effect on taste, as well as the more obvious mouth feel. 

One very effective way to mask an off flavor, is fluid bed encapsulation of the ingredient. However the ingredient’s particle size and morphology must be taken into consideration. A slightly larger particle will have less surface area than a smaller particle. In order to fully encapsulate the ingredient, it will take less coating to seal the larger particle because of the lower amount of surface area. Then mouth feel would have to be taken in to consideration. 

The morphology (shape) of a particle also must be taken in to consideration. An ingredient that has a somewhat spherical shape is the easiest to coat (taste mask). Something cubic might be extremely difficult due to its corners. A needle or a flat particle will be difficult to coat. They also may shatter due to their fragility during processing, exposing uncoated areas. One answer is to mill the particles into a powder. They will be less likely to shatter, but have more surface area.       

In a multi ingredient blend, the different ingredients’ particle size, shape, and bulk density, must be compared. The more alike they are, the less likely they are to segregate. Milling of the particles to a finer state might make them more compatible and uniform. Agglomeration of the blend is a way to stick the particles together in a more homogenous state that is less likely to segregate and make it more uniform.

Micronizing is often used for less soluble ingredients in order to maximize surface area for exposure to the solute. Micronized ingredients can sometimes be more bioavailable. Micronizing might also be done in combination with the use of surfactants. Micronizing is also used in emulsion preparation.

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