Different Types of Capsules

Pharmaceutical products are progressively being administered in the capsule’s formulation. Capsules demonstrate huge benefits over tablets that have generally adopted dosage form. Pharmaceutical capsules are preferably consumed by millions of population around the world. But have you ever asked yourself where they come from? What are the different types, and capsules?

In this blog, we will investigate such perspectives related to capsules that have been implemented for over a hundred years. We will also look at how capsules have been created to cater to vegetarian consumers.

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    1.What are the basic types of capsules?

    basic classification of capsules

    Classification of Capsules According to Raw Material

    Capsules are the solid dosage form that are available in soft and hard shells intended for oral administration. The basic classification of capsules is followed as:

    • Based on Raw Material

    Based on raw material capsules are classified into:

    a) Gelatin Capsules

    These capsules are prepared from animal protein gelatin which is extracted from collagen of animal bone or skin.
    For instance, hard gelatin capsule, soft gelatin capsules.

    There are two basic types of gelatins used in the making of gelatin capsule.

    gelatin capsule

    Type A: Type A is made up from acid treated precursor which exhibits an ‘iso electric point of pH 9. Type A gelatin is mainly prepared from pork’s skin.

    Type B: This is originated from alkali treated precursor which exhibits the iso electric point of pH 4.7. This is mainly prepared from the bones of animals.

    b) Vegetarian Capsules

    A vegetarian capsule is a cleared shell made up of plant derived material highly beneficial for health-conscious consumers. For instance, HPMC, pullulan.

    Vegetarian Capsules

    • Based on Shell or Encapsulated Material

    Capsules can also be classified according to shell of capsules or type of material to be filled.
    shell or Encapsulated Material

    Classification of capsules on the basis of shell

    a)Dry Filled Capsules

    Dry fill capsules are either hard gelatin capsules or hard HPMC capsules. The fill material in these capsules are granules, pellets, or small tablets.

    Dry Filled Capsules

    b)Liquid Filled Capsules

    Liquid fill capsules can be either hard gelatin capsule or soft gelatin capsules. These capsules are filled with paste, various suspension, and other free flowing liquids.

    These capsules can withstand mechanical strength and can be enteric coated.

    Liquid Filled Capsules

    2.What is hard gelatin capsule?

    hard gelatin capsule

    Hard gelatin capsules are made up of gelatin and water. They are also known as ‘Dry Filled Capsule’. These capsules also have titanium oxide with makes the capsules opaque.

    Gelatin is a protein which is eatable, cheap, safe, and easily dissolve. Hard capsules have rigid and cylindrical body and has two parts which are body and cap.

    These are formed by dipped pin of finger shaped into hot melted gelatin solution and then taking these out, the resulting gelatin solution is then allowed to dry on the pin. After drying bronze jaws are used to extract the pins.

    These capsules are available in different sizes. It encloses both liquid and dry fill materials. These capsules are the most popular among supplier and are widely used for many years.

    3.What is soft gelatin capsule?

    soft gelatin capsule

    Soft gelatin or softgel is one-piece capsule. Composition of soft gelatin capsules is like that of hard gelatin capsules except they are made up of plasticizers like glycerol and sorbitol. Plasticizer is present about 20%-30% by weight of the capsule.

    The shell of these capsules is soft, spherical, and thicker than that of hard gelatin capsules. These capsules packs liquid or semi-solid fill materials.

    These capsules require special machines called rotary capsule machine. This machine produces the capsule and insert the fill.

    These capsules also have preservatives that reduces the fungal growth.

    4.What is fish gelatin capsule?

    fish gelatin capsule

    A fish gelatin capsules are originated from fish and regarded as safe and used as a multipurpose form of dispensing for broad range food subjects. They are ideally suited for marine supplements for instance fish oil, glucosamine, EPA etc. Fish gelatin oil offered numerous benefits and prepared from excellent quality farm fish gelatin.
    Empty hard fish gelatin capsules are prepared to fulfil the needs of health-conscious consumers across the globe.  Moreover, fish gelatin capsules are easily available in all sizes such as from 000 to 05.

    5.What is HPMC capsule?

    HPMC capsule

    HPMC stands for Hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose. HPMC Capsule is a kind of vegetarian capsule is made up of two main ingredients which are HPMC and water. HPMC is a type of cellulose acquired from the plants.

    HPMC is mostly used in food, nutraceuticals, vitamin supplements, and pharmaceutical now a days. It is high in demands as an alternative of gelatin capsule.

    These capsules have stability at low water pressure and have less water content as compared to other capsules. This capsule is the most suitable option for packing water-sensitive fill materials.

    As these capsules are derived from the plants so there is no chance of contacting animal disease by consuming them.

    6.What is pullulan capsule?

    pullulan capsule

    These are the type of vegetarian capsules composed of pullulan, a mucopolysaccharide derived from Tapioca. It is a food additive and a water-soluble substance. Pullulan the most suitable material for the manufacturing of the capsules for health-conscious individual. It has good coating characteristics, and it has become s natural choice for vegetarian capsules substituting animal gelatin.

    It is fully organic capsule and has low water content and has mechanical strength. It also has low oxygen permeability. This capsule is used to capsulate water-sensitive drugs.

    7.What are starch capsules?

    pullulan capsule

    These are unique capsules prepared from potato starch. Their dissolution is independent of pH and are of prime important when you required enteric coating.
    Starch capsules are drug compatible and used as an alternative to traditional gelatin empty capsules. The prime ingredient used in these capsules is starch. These capsules are possessing numerous benefits over the other capsules. For instance, contains low moisture content, less static charge, less humidity level and a safest mode of dispensing. The moisture content available in starch capsules ranges 12-14% w/w.

    Starch capsules are increasingly used in pharmaceuticals, cosmeceuticals, nutraceuticals etc. and rising the growth in the capsules market across the globe.

    8.What is PVA capsule?

    PVA capsule

    Polyvinl acetate (PVA), which is extracted from wood glue and primarily used for encapsulating insoluble drug substances. PVA capsules have very low oxygen permeability and high oxygen barrier.

    In terms of bioavailability the PVA capsules are equivalent to gelatin capsules. Furthermore, PVA capsules ensures encapsulation of hydrophilic solvents that make insoluble substances dissolve.

    9.What is liquid filled hard capsule?

    liquid hard capsule

    Liquid filled hard capsule or LFHC are two-piece capsule either made up of gelatin or HPMC. They are used to fill and seal non-aqueous liquid, semi-solid paste, suspension, or vehicles that have 70 °C melting point with great flow. LFHC can also be encapsulated with tablets, pellets, and mini capsules. These capsules are used for moisture sensitive drug substances. LFHC are the cost-effective and alternate way against soft gelatin capsules. LFHC have high bioavailability as well as stability.

    Comparing soft gelatin capsules, LFHC are low in cost, low risk of cross-contamination, low chances of migration of drug substances into capsule shell as well as availability.

    10.Gelatin capsules VS vegetarian capsules?

    The basic difference between gelatin and vegetarian capsules are listed as followed:

    • Raw materials

    raw materials

    Gelatin capsules are made pork skin and beef bones. While the vegetarian capsules are made up of plant derived materials like cellulose. So many people prefer to take vegetarian capsules because of their belief and customs like Kosher and Islamic community.

    • Price


    The gelatin capsules are more widely used than vegetarian capsules because they are cheaper to make. Vegetarian capsules are about 80-200% more costly to produce. It is because the raw material needed to produce vegetarian capsules are more expensive.

    • Readily Available

    readily available

    Gelatin capsules are available in different sizes and have a lot of manufacturers. But suppliers of vegetarian capsules are generally low.

    • Stability


    Vegetarian capsules are generally stable as they have low water content (3%-7%) but due to high water content (13%-15%) in gelatin capsules, they are unstable.

    • Crosslinking


    Vegetarian capsules do not have cross-linking but in gelatin capsules, shell become hard upon heating to high temperature. This cross-linking in gelatin capsules causes its low dissolution.

    • Oxygen Permeability

    Oxygen Permeability

    Vegetarian capsules have high oxygen penetrance while gelatin capsules have low oxygen permeability.

    • Solubility in Water

    Solubility in Water

    Gelatin capsules are not soluble in water, but vegetarian capsules are soluble in water.

    11.Different capsules and their benefits as a pharmaceutical dosage form

    There are many benefits of capsules in the dosage form. Some of the benefits are stated below:

    Fast Dissolution

    fast dissolution

    Capsules dissolve rapidly in the gut. It takes about 5-20 minutes for capsule to disintegrate. Most of the immediate acting tablets have much slower break down time.

    • HPMC capsules have much faster disintegration time than the other capsules. But it does not affect the pharmacokinetic properties of the drug.

    Formulation Requirement

    Formulation and manufacturing of capsules have just few steps. The process involves small number of excipients. Some free-flowing drugs can be directly packed into capsules. Capsules are more stable than other form of oral solid dose tablets.

    • Hard gelatin capsules are the type of capsule that contains free flowing therapeutic substances supplied empty to pharmaceutical industry or provided for individual operations by shell supplier.


    Thermo-liable drugs

    Thermo-liable drugs are easily packed inside the capsules as the process of encapsulation does not need high temperature and pressure. Moreover, for the protection of light, capsules can be manufactured having opaque walls. These capsules can have hard gelatin coating which serve as oxygen barrier.

    Drugs that can react with other materials are effortlessly filled inside the capsules as the capsules have fewer excipients.

    • For instance, hard gelatin capsule and soft gelatin capsules.


    Human contact to potent drugs is lowered in manufacturing of capsules as there are few steps in the production of capsules. In the manufacturing of capsules, drug dust is produced at reduced levels which increases the product quality and uniformity. Furthermore, it also reduces the cost of installing air handling and processing instrument.

    • For instance, all types of capsules provide sufficient protection to drugs substance and sustain product quality.

    Capsules- Consumers First Choice

    Consumers First Choice

    Capsules are the first choice of the consumers as they are tasteless and very easy to swallow. The markets of capsules are increasing as the consumers prefer to have these medications.

    It is thought that capsules mode of action is very fast. Studies have shown that patients fancy taking capsules than tablets. Due to this, companies are manufacturing more of these medications.

    • The entire categories of gelatin and vegetarian capsules falls under this category.

    Flexibility in the Formulation of Capsules

    There can be number of different substances that are encapsulated in the capsules like solids or liquids. A single capsule is the combination of multiple powders, pellets, granules, etc.

    Incompatible materials can be filled inside the capsules. These capsules are helpful in producing modified released medications which increases the absorption and reduces adverse reactions of the drug.

    • Hard gelatin capsules, soft gelatin capsules, pullulan, and most innovative smart capsules.


    We hope this blog was quite interesting and offered you all necessary up to date information relevant to different types of capsules. Now you will be capable enough to distinguish different types of capsules and to select a right choice for you in the future.

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