Many products, such as paints and varnishes, inks, foodstuffs, cosmetics or pharmaceuticals, are a mixture of a wide variety of substances, which can be of natural origin as well as synthesized substances. If these substances are not soluble in each other, as is the case in the majority of technical products, they are referred to as dispersions.

The insoluble component, finely distributed in the dispersion medium, is called the disperse phase. The dispersion medium, on the other hand, is referred to as the continuous phase. Depending on the state of the disperse and the continuous phases, dispersions are divided into the different disperse systems shown in the table.

Disperse systems

Dispersion MediumDisperse PhaseDescriptionExample




solidsolid dispersioncomposites
liquidsolid emulsionbutter, margarine
gaseoussolid foaminsulating foam




solidsuspensioninkjet-ink, orange juice
liquidemulsionmilk, cosmetics, releasing agent



solidsolid aerosolfume, dust
liquidliquid aerosolfog