Deliquescence is a first order phase transition from solid to solution that occurs at a relative humidity (RH) that is characteristic to the solid ingredient. In blends containing more than one component with deliquescent behavior, the RH of the solid-solution transition will be lowered, leading to some level of dissolution at relatively low RH conditions. Dissolution arising as a result of deliquescence will impact the chemical and physical stability of complex food systems. Because chemical reactions occur much more readily in solution, deliquescence will enhance the degradation of labile food ingredients. RH fluctuations will lead to cycles of deliquescence and efflorescence (crystallization), which will contribute to particle agglomeration and caking. This review addresses the phenomenon of deliquescence, the significance of deliquescence to the food industry, measurement techniques, the kinetics and thermodynamics of deliquescence, the behavior of mixtures of deliquescent salts (including phase diagrams and thermodynamics of binary systems), and consequences of deliquescence on chemical and physical stability of powdered food and nutritional ingredient blends.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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