Food Biophysics

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 88–96 | Cite as

Effects of Temperature, Time and Composition on Food Oil Surface Tension

  • Tong Xu
  • Veronica Rodriguez-Martinez
  • Shreya N. Sahasrabudhe
  • Brian E. Farkas
  • Stephanie R. DunganEmail author


Equilibrium and time-dependent surface tension properties at the lipid-vapor interface were investigated, due to their importance in many food applications. Common cooking oils and triglycerides, with or without added oil-soluble amphiphiles, were studied as a function of time and temperature. Surface tension was found to decrease linearly as temperature was increased, and this linear dependence was analyzed to yield thermodynamic information on the surface excess energy and entropy. The different types of cooking oils were nearly indistinguishable with regard to their surface entropy and energy, but an effect of acyl chain length was observed from data for different purified triglyceride oils. These results were consistent with separate results on pure fatty acids of different chain lengths and degree of unsaturation. Lipid amphiphiles, natively present or deliberately added at low concentration to oil, did not cause a change in either dynamic or equilibrium surface tension of corn or olive oil. We conclude that such amphiphilic molecules, despite their presence within the food oil, lack significant surface activity at their native concentration when presented with the surface between oil and air. A decrease in tension in corn oil was seen when mixed in solution with the short-chain caprylic acid (octanoate), but the decrease was notable (>4%) only when this short-chain fatty acid was added at high concentration (≥ 1 M). Added sorbitan monooleate (Span 80) or dioctyl sulfosuccinate sodium salt (AOT) surfactants, on the other hand, decreased equilibrium surface tension by up to 12% and 18%, respectively, at low concentrations (<0.125 M).


Surface tension Food oils Surface excess entropy and energy Lipid-soluble surfactants Free fatty acids Amphiphilicity 



This work was supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2014-67017-21831 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Support from the NSF Center for Advanced Processing and Packaging Studies is also acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tong Xu
    • 1
  • Veronica Rodriguez-Martinez
    • 2
  • Shreya N. Sahasrabudhe
    • 2
  • Brian E. Farkas
    • 2
  • Stephanie R. Dungan
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Food Science and TechnologyUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Food SciencePurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  3. 3.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA

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