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There is no official pharmaceutical definition for the term powder. In general,

however, a powder may be described as the fine particles which result from the
comminution of any dry substance. Comminution is a broadly used term referring to
many types of processes such as triturating, levigating, grinding, and pulverizing.
Finely devided powders may also be prepared by carefully controlled chemical and
physical reactions such as precipitation and crystal growth, followed by appropriate
treatment and drying of the finely devided particles. See comminution, page 30.
Powders consist of particles ranging from about 10,000 micrometers
(1micrometer=0,001mm)- 0,1. The most useful range for pharmaceutical powders
as dosage forms is in the paracolloidal and colloidal region (10-0,1). Despite the fact
that powdered dosage form have a continuous history of use since antiquity, the
lack of any restrictive definition reflects the art of their formulation rather than the
science of powder technology. The fineness of particles, in pharmaceutical
terminology, is defined by the USP in descriptive terms: very coarse, coarsem
moderately, fine, and very fine. Such designations generally correspond to groups of
standard mesh sieves which are identified by sieve numbers.
The nominal dimensions and descriptive terminology of powdered chemicals of
various degrees of fineness are given in Table 1. Since the classification scheme
refers to the number of wire strands in its constructionm it should be noted that
sieves with the higher sieve numbers retain finer particles that those with the lower
The psysicochemical properties of powder are largely a fuction of the size and
surface area of the particles. Fine particles approaching the colloidal range diffuse in
a manner similar to a gas. The rate of settling of very small particles (up to 200
mesh) depends on the viscosity of the fluid suspension medium. Larger size
particles settle at a rate which depends primarily on the difference between the
density of the particle and that of the dispersion medium (Stokes low). High
concentrations of particles or aggregates of large particles do not follow Stokes low,
however, and is such cases the settling characteristics are related to the type of
aggregate which the particles form, structure density of the aggregates, and
particle geometry. Dosage forms consisting of powdered materials, either in the dry
or suspended state, reflect the characteristics which result form the surface
interactions of the particles. Particle size and surface activity influence such
physical characteristics as ease of mixing, dispersibility, and pharmaceutical
elegance. Attempts to deal with particle size diameters as a function of surface/ unit
volume have provided important information concerning adsorption, dissolution,
and particle- particle interaction. These same physicochemical parameters may
profoundly influence such important biopharmaceutic characteristics as degree of
solubility, bioavailability, pharmacological onset, and duration of drug action.
Knowledge of interfacial conditions and aggregation phenomena in dry powders
represent significant considerations for the pharmacist. As with other dosage forms,
powders are subject to the general processes of aggregation. Most aggregations in
powders result directly form the interaction of adsorbed films such as water or
gases present on the particulate surface. The absence of such surface impurities
generally reduces the tendency for the particles to aggregate under the normal
gravitational conditions and similarly increases the rate of solution in most solvents.
Although the absolute solubility in any solvent remains relatively unaffected by
traces of adsorbed impurities in surface films, the dissolution rate may be markedly
altered. Crystals of boric acid were formerly recommended for the