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 Gelatin is used for pharmaceutical preparations of gels and for capsule formulation. Gelatin capsules are one of the most common ways to deliver oral medicine. Gelatin capsules contain gelatin, water, and sugar and are made up of a clear thin coating which has no taste or color, although coloring agents such as titanium dioxide can be added. Gelatin is available in gelatin sheets, flakes or powders. It is created through a chemical process which hydrolyzes collagen(a protein found in the connective tissue of animals). Gelatin capsules can be filled with solids, liquids and semisolids. There are hard gelatin and soft gelatin capsules.

 When the gelatin capsule is swallowed, the warm fluid within the gastrointestinal tract dissolves the gelatin, releasing the contents of the capsule and beginning dissolution. The gelatin is then broken down by proteases and is also absorbed into the blood stream.

 Gelatin can also be mixed into hot water and then cooled to form gels. An organic liquid such as propylene glycol may be added prior to the addition of warm water for this purpose.


 Gelatin is typically stable unless it is subjected to excessive dryness or humidity. Dryness causes some of the water within the shell to evaporate making it more brittle and susceptible to cracking or breaking. High humidity causes more moisture to be absorbed and this softens the gelatin capsule causing them to lose their shape and consistency. This can change the way the capsules dissolve and therefore how the substance within the shell is absorbed. For this reason, packets of desiccants are often added into the bottle of capsules to absorb any excess moisture that the atmosphere may carry.


Gelatin capsules are created by a process that dips rounded pegs into a melted liquid gelatin mixture, the pegs(which are attached to a plate) are then raised out of the mixture and exposed to air to cool and dry, this hardens them and forms a gelatin capsule. There are two components of the capsules which fit snugly onto each other. They typically come in sizes of 000, 00 0, 1, 2. 3, 4, 5.

Soft Gelatin

Soft gelatin capsules are similar to hard gelatin capsules, however they also have a substance such as sorbitol, glycerin, or other water soluble substance added to them. Soft gelatin capsules contain more moisture and therefore sometimes a preservative is added to prevent microbial growth. Soft gelatin capsules are used to encapsulate liquids, semisolids and powders.

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