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A Dye Test to Classify Emulsions

One way to characterize emulsions.

This activity will help identify the type of emulsion the samples represent by revealing the dispersed and continuous phases of the emulsion. 



  • Samples
  • Oil Red O
  • Red Food Coloring


  • Microscopy glass plates
  • pipette
  • (Optional) Microscope


  1. On two glass microscopty plates, transfer 2-3 drops of your sample using a pipette. 
  2. On one plate, dispense one drop of Oil Red O and on the other dispense one drop of red food coloring. 
  3. Mix the sample and coloring well on each plate.
  4. Describe the color dispersion within the sample. 
  5. (Optional) Put the plate under the microscope and observe the micelles. Which part of the sample is dyed and which part isn’t? — can you tell the dispersed phase and continuous phase? 

Full Classifying Emulsions Lab  
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