The Hydrophilic-lipophilic balance of a surfactant is a measure of the degree to which it is hydrophilic or lipophilic, determined by calculating values for the different regions of the molecule, as described by Griffin in 1949
Griffin's method for non-ionic surfactants as described in 1954 works as follows:
<math>HLB = 20 * Mh / M</math>
where Mh is the molecular mass of the hydrophilic portion of the Molecule, and M is the molecular mass of the whole molecule, giving a result on an arbitrary scale of 0 to 20.An HLB value of 0 corresponds to a completely hydrophobic molecule, and a value of 20 would correspond to a molecule made up completely of hydrophilic components.
The HLB value can be used to predict the surfactant properties of a molecule: