There are so many different kinds of milk out there with fancy terms to describe them, so it can be hard to know exactly what you’re purchasing. Have you ever seen “homogenized” milk before and wondered exactly what that means?
Milk homogenization is a mechanical process that involves treating the fat molecules in milk by reducing the fat globules' diameter to a smaller size and breaking them into smaller globules, increasing the number of total fat globules in the milk. The machine that performs this process is known as a Milk Homogenizer.
If you’re interested in learning more about the different types of milk homogenizer and the effect homogenized milk has on your health, keep reading this article to get the most comprehensive explanation of milk homogenizer.
What is Milk Homogenizer and What Effects Does It Have?
Milk homogenizers are used to break up the fat globules in milk to make them smaller and greater in number.
This process increases the shelf-life of milk by a lot, making it a preference for dairy farmers who want to ship higher milk quantities to far distances. Unlike pasteurization, it’s not meant for safety purposes but rather for consistency and shelf-life increase.
Milk homogenizers are industrial-grade machines, so they’re somewhat of an investment. Depending on the kind you get, it could cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. Milk homogenizers also tend to last an incredibly long time, making them a worthy investment for dairy producers.
Because the fat globules in homogenized milk are so small, they can enter the bloodstream immediately, which can be dangerous if the milk is handled poorly. That’s why most experts recommend using organic milk through a milk homogenizer to reduce the negative effects it can have.
There are several different types of homogenizers available that all use different means to achieve similar results. Let’s take a look at the different kinds of homogenizers one can buy and how they’re different from each other.
Various Types of Milk Homogenizer
There are various types of milk homogenizers on the market, ranging from hand-held devices to commercial-grade homogenizer machines. Let’s dive into each type of milk homogenizer available on the market today.
Hand-Held Mechanical Milk Homogenizers
Hand-held milk homogenizers are the smallest and cheapest types of milk homogenizers out there. They have a long, cylindrical shape and look a little bit like drill machines, with a body made for holding it in hand and a metal rod that sticks out and treats the milk.
Hand-held milk homogenizers are usually rotor-stator homogenizers, which treat milk in a long shaft with angled knives at the bottom. These are fast and efficient machines.
Hand-held milk homogenizers work best for smaller samples of milk- around 0.1ml to 250ml, and most hand-held milk homogenizers have speed settings one can adjust according to the amount of milk used for the testing. They are not typically used to homogenize milk for large manufacturing companies but rather for individual or small business use.
For hand-held milk homogenizer, there must be a generator probe attachment, which usually comes with the product itself.
Hand-held milk homogenizers work by drawing the liquid milk into the generator probe. It then forces it through the knives at high velocity and repeatedly completes this process until the fat globules have been properly “sheared” (treated). Most samples are fully treated within a minute.
Milk homogenizers are a relatively expensive product, given their function and high power. A good quality hand-held homogenizer can usually be found for anywhere from a few hundred dollars to just shy of $1,000, so even these smaller milk homogenizers are quite the investment.
High-Pressure Milk Homogenizers
High-pressure milk homogenizers, along with mechanical homogenizers, are the most common types used to process milk and are the most common homogenizers used with dairy farmers.
These involve forcing liquid through a tiny hole at high pressure, which breaks apart the fat globules in milk and decreases their diameter while increasing their number. Usually, the milk repeatedly passes through the hole multiple times before the treatment process ends.
These homogenizers tend to be very large and very heavy, perfect for heavy-duty commercial grade dairy production.
Expect this type of milk homogenizer to cost tens of thousands of dollars, as these are mostly for commercial-grade use.
Laboratory Milk Homogenizers
Laboratory milk homogenizers are meant to be used continually for a long period of time. Many of them are mechanical or pressure homogenizers, but bead mill and ultrasonic homogenizers can also be made as laboratory-grade homogenizers.
These are perfect for high-pressure milk treatment at high performance. And because they’re designed for laboratories, sample tests can be performed in them, and you will get consistent results each time.
These homogenizers take up more space than a hand-held milk homogenizer. They are meant to be used to test desired milk homogenization effects and the production of homogenized milk products.
You can expect a high-quality lab homogenizer to cost you at least a couple of thousand dollars, depending on the kind you purchase. Keep in mind; these are meant to be used continually over long periods of time and produce perfect results always, so you’re definitely getting what you pay for.
Ultrasonic homogenizers are our out of this world, sci-fi type of homogenizer. These homogenizers use extremely pressurized sonic waves that form ‘microbubbles,’ which eventually implode. This breaks the bonds that hold fat globules together and catalyzes the blending process.
Ultrasonic homogenizers can be used for milk. These homogenizers use new technology to achieve their goal, and thus, are on the pricier end of some of the homogenizers on this list. Expect an ultrasonic homogenizer to cost around a couple of thousand dollars.
Bead Mill Homogenizers
Bead homogenizers use, you guessed it, beads to break up the fat globules in milk. The beads are shaken up extremely quickly, disturbing and breaking apart cells and molecules, making them smaller and higher in number.
While this type of homogenizer can be used for milk, it is most often used in scientific settings.
Expect bead mill homogenizers to cost a similar amount as ultrasonic homogenizers- around a few thousand dollars.
Now you’re without a doubt the most informed on milk homogenizers in your group of friends. And if you’re in the market for a milk homogenizer, explore the aforementioned types to figure out which one suits your needs best.