Difference between Suspension and Emulsion

A mixture is a physical combination of two or more substances in the same or different states. Mixtures can be of many types like a solution, suspension and colloids. A mixture can be classified into two types, homogeneous mixture and heterogeneous mixture. In the homogeneous mixture, there is a uniform distribution of substances, e.g. solution of water and salt or sugar, air, etc. In a heterogeneous mixture, the distribution of substances varies and substances can be identified, e.g. mud or sand in water.

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The suspension is a heterogeneous mixture. Here the solid particles are large and tend to settle when allowed to stand still. The suspended particles do not dissolve like a solution and freely move in the medium. Here the dispersed phase is solid, and the dispersion medium can be solid, liquid or gas. The particles may be visible through the naked eye. Sand in water is an example of a suspension.


The emulsion is a type of liquid-liquid colloidal system. A colloid is a heterogeneous mixture of substances where very fine particles known as dispersed phases are present in the dispersion medium. The size of particles in colloids is larger than in solution but smaller than that of suspensions. An emulsion is a mixture of two immiscible liquids or partially miscible liquids. There are two types of emulsions, viz., oil in water and water in oil. An example of oil in water (o/w) emulsion is milk, where fat is dispersed in water. An example of water in oil (w/o) type of emulsion is butter and cream. They show the Brownian movement and the Tyndall effect. Liquids in an emulsion can be separated by various physical methods such as heating, freezing, centrifugation, etc.

Difference between Suspension and Emulsion

The table below shows the main differences between Suspension and Emulsion:

Type of mixture
It is a heterogeneous mixture where the dispersed particles are large and settle on standing It is a heterogeneous mixture of two immiscible liquids. It is a type of colloid and dispersed particles do not settle on standing
Dispersed phase and the Dispersion medium
Solid particles are dispersed in any medium, that can be solid, gas or liquid Both dispersed phase and the dispersion medium are liquid
Separation of components
Can be separated by filtration Cannot be separated by filtration
Scattering of light
May scatter light or opaque Shows Tyndall effect
Suspending agents are required for the stability Emulsifying agents are required for the stability
Sand in water, flour in water Milk, vanishing cream, butter

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