The Hydrophile-Lipophile Balance (HLB) value for a surfactant describes its chemical hydrophilic and lipophilic properties. Blending 2 surfactants can result in a mixture with certain target properties. The HLB values of 2 surfactants are additive, which simplifies the blending.

HLB for a Surfactant

Surfactant Activity

1 to 3

antifoaming agent

3 to 6


7 to 9

wetting agent

8 to 13


13 to 15

detergent or emulsifier

15 to 18

solubilizing agent or emulsifier

18 to 20

solubilizing agent


Final Mixture HLB and Volume Known



(1) HLB for final mixture

(2) volume of final mixture in mL

(3) HLB for first surfactant

(4) HLB for final surfactant


(HLB for final mixture) * (final volume in mL) =

= ((HLB for first surfactant) * (volume for first surfactant in mL)) + ((HLB for second surfactant) * ((final volume in mL) – (volume for first surfactant in mL)))


volume for first surfactant =

= (((HLB for final mixture) * (final volume in mL)) – ((final volume in mL) * (HLB for second surfactant))) / ((HLB for first surfactant) – (HLB for second surfactant))


volume for second surfactant =

= (final volume of mixture) – (volume of first surfactant)


Volume of Each Surfactant Known


If the volumes of each starting surfactant is known, then the HLB for the mixture is:


HLB of final mixture =

= (((HLB for first surfactant) * (volume of first surfactant)) + ((HLB for second surfactant) * (volume for second surfactant))) / ((volume of first surfactant) + (volume of second surfactant))


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