the ups and downs of life

How Does A Liquid-Filled Gel Cap Work?

Yeah, it’s weird to think about. I was looking at my liquid-filled gel caps and wondered how they don’t dissolve themselves. I love gel-caps because they’re fast acting. The liquid hits my system a lot faster than a regular old pill because of less time to break down. But what breaks the gel-cap down is moisture. They’re filled with liquid, which is moisture. So how do they not dissolve themselves? Who came up with these magic pills that essentially melt when liquid hits the outside, but are able to hold liquid?

Not the biggest quandary in the world, I know. But isn’t it a little weird? So any ideas?


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5 thoughts on “How Does A Liquid-Filled Gel Cap Work?

  1. I was wondering the same question tonight, googled it, and came across your post. Nearly a year later, do you have any new insights?

  2. Well im doing some research on this now and think (not sure as of yet) that they use a PG solution and/or alcohol

  3. Hi – a chemist here who stumbled across your blog. I’ll try to keep it simple, but forgive me for any jargon that slips through. 🙂

    The capsules in the picture look like softgels which are usually made principally of gelatin. Gelatin will dissolve into various polar solvents like water, ethyl alcohol, propylene glycol, and glycerin. So, when making a softgel, the formulator generally tries to include little (up to ~10 wt% is one ballpark figure) or none of polar compounds such as these solvents that might dissolve the gelatin. Instead, common “carriers” include things like polyethylene glycol or various oils.

    The simple answer, then, is that your gel caps don’t dissolve themselves because there is very little inside that can dissolve gelatin – that includes there being little moisture inside. When they get into your mouth or stomach, the gel caps come across a bunch of warm water, and that dissolves the gelatin and breaks open the cap.

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