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Schematic of micellar solubilization of fatty substance in water with the use of a dispersant

Solubilization, according to an IUPAC definition,[1] is a short form for micellar solubilization, a term used in colloidal and surface chemistry.

Solubilization is the process of incorporating the solubilizate (the component that undergoes solublization) into or onto the micelles. Solublization may occur in a system consisting of a solvent, an association colloid (a colloid that forms micelles), and at least one other solubilizate.

Usage of the term[edit]

Solubilization is distinct from dissolution because the resulting fluid is a colloidal dispersion involving an association colloid. This suspension is distinct from a true solution, and the amount of the solubilizate in the micellar system can be different (often higher) than the regular solubility of the solubilizate in the solvent.

In non-chemical literature and in everyday language, the term "solubilization" is sometimes used in a broader meaning as "to bring to a solution or (non-sedimenting) suspension" by any means, e.g., leaching by a reaction with an acid.


Micellar solublization is widely utilized, e.g. in:


Literature distinguishes two major mechanisms of solubilization process of oil by surfactant micelles, affecting the kinetics of solubilization:[3]

  • Surface reaction, i.e., by transient adsorption of micelles at the water-oil interface, and
  • bulk reaction, whereby the surfactant micelles capture dissolved oil molecules.


  1. ^ Micellar solublization. In: International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, "Compendium of Chemical Terminology" ("the Gold Book"), 2nd edition. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, 1997. (2006-)
  2. ^ Jain A, Ran Y, Yalkowsky S, "Effect of pH-Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Combination on Solubilization of PG-300995 (an Anti-HIV Agent): A Technical Note." AAPS PharmSciTech. 2004; 5(3): article 45. [1]
  3. ^ P. D. Todorov, P. A. Kralchevsky, N. D. Denkov, G. Broze, and A. Mehreteab, "Kinetics of Solubilization of n-Decane and Benzene by Micellar Solutions of Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate". Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 245, 371–382 (2002), doi:10.1006/jcis.2001.8031 [2]