Understanding Empty Gelatin Capsules & What You Can Do With Them

The pharmaceutical industry has been going through a major revamp lately. Everyone still loves taking and using traditional pills, but there has also been a major shift towards making your pills and using them to treat any health issues you might have.

Particularly, this movement has led to the increased popularity of gelatin capsules. And for anyone looking to make their pills, this article will share insights on how to do it and why.

What Are Gelatin Capsules

Gelatin capsules are pretty much the standard at the moment when it comes to making your own pills.  And the fact that they are so versatile means that you can use them for whatever you want. 

A Definition Of Gelatin Capsules

We’re all familiar with gelatin capsules. They are pharmaceutical elements that are made from gelatin – a natural protein that you get by processing animal byproducts. In most cases, gelatin is gotten from the skin and bones of farm animals like cows and pigs. And when you mix it with water, it creates a strong gel after it cools down. 

For years, gelatin has been used in the drug industry for making medicine. You can generally find it in two forms as well: 

  • Hard Gelatin: These capsules come with two parts – a body, and a cap. You essentially put your medicine in the empty pill capsules, then you use the caps to cover them and protect them from the environmental elements. In most cases, though, the drugs being administered with these capsules tend to be powdery. 
  • Soft Gelatin: Capsules with the soft gelatin form come in a single piece. The piece is hermetically sealed, and it usually holds a liquid or semi-liquid material – whether it’s a suspension, an oil, or some other type of solution. 

In general, there are several reasons why you would want to make use of a gelatin capsule. As long as you have the right empty capsule sizes, there is no limit to what you can take with them. Whether you’re looking to treat a specific disease or would just like to keep up with your dietary needs, these capsules work like clockwork.

Sizes Of Gelatin Capsules

When it comes to gelatin capsules, one of the most important things you need to keep in mind is the fact that they are available in a myriad of sizes. The available capsule sizes will help you to better understand which option to work with, as well as guide you in filling up the empty pill capsules.

For a proper view of gelatin pill capsule sizes, you should understand that each size tends to come with a number. Size 5 is the smallest, while the size 000 is the biggest. As you can imagine, these empty capsule sizes will determine just how much content they can hold. 

That said, some sizes tend to be more commonly used. These include: 

  • Size 5
  • Size 4
  • Size 3
  • Size 2
  • Size 1
  • Size 0
  • Size 00
  • Size 000

In most cases, you will find that different gel capsule sizes tend to come with their specific uniqueness. For instance, the uses of a size 00 capsule might not necessarily be the same as those of the size 1 capsule

Here is a quick breakdown of some of the more popular gel cap sizes and what they work best for:

  • Anything From 5 to 2: These are mostly the smallest empty capsule sizes, and they work because they allow you to get more precise doses of your medication formulations. 
  • Options From 1 to 0: This category is most likely the most popular of the gelatin capsule sizes. For medications and dietary supplements, you can count on them to ensure accurate delivery. 
  • 00 and 000: A size 00 capsule or the size 000 options are much larger than the others. For materials where you need higher volumes – maybe you have a special herb or a combination of dietary ingredients – these sizes work well. 

That said, it is worth noting that there is no one-size-fits-all answer here. At the end of the day, manufacturers also tend to factor in things like fill material types and the ease with which you will be able to consider the pills. 

For a better understanding of capsule sizes, check out this capsule sizes chart and what it denotes:

Then, this pill size chart will help you to get an even better view of the subject matter:

Difference Between Gelatin Capsules & Vegetable Capsules 

Whenever you’re looking to make your supplements or produce your drugs, one of the biggest factors you will need to consider is having the right enclosure. And at the moment, gelatin capsules and vegetable capsules have emerged as among the most prominent options. 

As you would imagine, there are merits and demerits to both options. And careful consideration of these will be your ticket to making the right choice. That said, here are a few things you would need to know about them:

What Are They Made Of?

As we said earlier, a simple gelatin capsule usually comes from gelatin obtained from animal materials. Whether it’s a pig or a cow, gelatin remains in its natural form. 

On the other hand, vegetable capsules are made mostly from plant materials. There are different options available, but hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) tends to be the most potent.

How They Work for Dietary Restrictions

If you have any major dietary restrictions, then there’s no need to even search the sizes of capsules made from gelatin. Vegetable capsules are the right choice for you. This is especially true if you’re a vegan – although people with religious or cultural restrictions also need to take note of this.

How Do You Keep Unused Products?

In terms of storage, gelatin capsules tend to be easier to handle. With their stable nature, you can easily store them, and rest assured that their functionality won’t be affected regardless of the formulation. 

For vegetable capsules, you also get impressive overall stability. However, you will need to keep an eye on the environmental conditions where you use them too.  

Do External Factors Affect Them? 

Here, we’re focusing primarily on moisture and temperature. Gelatin capsules tend to be more sensitive to both, and extended exposure will only affect the overall stability that you get. This is one area where vegetable capsules do better, with their stability in environmental conditions. 

When making a choice, you generally want to consider your restrictions and preferences – as well as any custom formulation requirements that you might want to keep in mind. 

How Empty Gelatin Capsules Are Made

The development of empty gelatin capsules can be an interesting process. You will need to find the right raw materials, consider the right sizes of capsules, and more before coming up with your patented formulation. 

Generally, here is a workflow that helps you to better understand how this process works. 

Choose Your Ideal Raw Materials 

We already know that these ingredients come from gelatin. However, you need to also decide on which animal you’re getting the gelatin from, as well as the part of the animal that you’ll be working with. 

Make Your Original Solution

Next, you combine this gelatin with some water to create the perfect solution for you. Remember to keep an eye on the ratio of water to gelatin so you can get the right solution consistency. 

You Can Add Plasticizers If You Want

This step isn’t 100% necessary. But, if you want a more flexible material that isn’t so bitter, then you’re free to add it.

Mold Your Capsule

Now, you’re starting to get into the capsule creation itself. With a capsule molding machine, you create two halves of the capsule. Remember to have the right gel cap sizes and the right size of the full product itself. 

Dry It Out

Once you’ve created your capsule, you take it to a drying room where all excess moisture is taken out. This allows the capsule to maintain its shape and promotes its stability to a considerable degree. 

Make the Final Adjustments

Trim the edges of the dried capsules to make sure that you have a uniform build. Then, combine the bodies and caps to form your complete product. In some cases, this joining process might involve some heating to create that perfect seam. 

Don’t Forget To Inspect Your Capsule 

At the end of the day, this is a product that you will consume. So, remember to have the right quality control steps and follow them to make sure you have a reliable final product. 

Package It & Ship Out

Once you confirm that the capsules are up to code, you can place them in containers and send them out.

As you would imagine, there can be variations in manufacturing processes based on your needs and any other custom requirements. But, for a more generic process, this workflow will do more than fine.

Why You Should Fill Your Empty Gelatin Capsule

When you tell someone you want to fill your gelatin capsule, they might wonder why you would want to give this a try. Well, there are a lot of reasons why you should want to do this:

The Dosage Is Right For you 

If you’ve got a specific dosage need, making your capsules allows you to easily accommodate it. Some dosages aren’t ready in pre-packaged capsules, and doing this allows you to get what you need.

You Won’t Spend So Much

It could be more cost-effective to buy bulk supplements in granule form and fill them in your capsule. If you’re a regular consumer of these supplements, then this is a solid option. 

Use The Ingredients You Want 

Filling your capsules allows you to also control the ingredients you’ll be using. If you have any specific allergies or dietary requirements, then you can ensure that you use the right ingredients for you. 

This process also means that you don’t have to use any fillers, preservatives, or additives if you don’t want to. You know what you’re putting in your body at every point. 

Perfect for Herbal Formulations

If you’re interested in traditional or herbal remedies, then you could choose to fill your empty gelatin capsules instead. As long as you have the right gel capsule sizes, you can consume your natural remedies without risking a loss of their potency. 

It’s Good For The Environment

For those people who care more about eco-friendliness, filling your capsules tends to be a more sustainable act since it cuts down on package waste.

How To Fill Empty Capsules

herbal drug an alternative medicine in a capsule

Now, let’s examine the actual process of filling your empty gelatin capsules by yourself. With the right knowledge of gel cap sizes, this should be pretty easy. 

What You Need

Before you start, run through this checklist to make sure you have everything you need

  • The Empty Capsules: Do you need a 0-size capsule, a size 1 capsule, or any other? Find that out first. 
  • The Material: You can get the powdered filling material or make it yourself from natural herbs. 
  • A Capsule Machine: This device helps you to essentially hold the capsules as you fill them.
  • The Tamper: You’ll need this to help you put your material in the capsules. 
  • A Workspace: Nothing fancy here – just a clean and dry surface should be fine.

How To Go About It 

Now, let’s look into the process to make things easier: 

Clear the Workspace 

Remember to keep your work area dry and clean always. Also, set your tools and make sure that they don’t have any moisture. 

Next, Separate The Capsules

If you’ll be working with the capsule machine, then you can split the capsules at the tops and the bottoms. You can also do this by hand, so don’t be pressured. 

Fill The Machine Up 

Once again, anyone using the machine can just place the lower halves of the machines in them so that they’re in place.

Pour In Your Ingredient 

Carefully fill the capsule with the material you’re trying to consume. You can do this with a simple apparatus or a card that levels any excess material and ensures accuracy.

Place The Cap In 

With your material in, place the top of the capsule over the bottom half and make sure that your alignment is perfect. Then, press the top down or snap it. 

Repeat What You Did 

Keep filling the capsules until you have the right number of them for you. 

Keep Them In The Right Place 

At this point, you’re done. Store the capsules somewhere without any direct sunlight or exposure to moisture.

Applications of Empty Gelatin Capsules

There are several things you can do with empty gelatin capsules. And considering the versatility of these products, it’s no wonder that they’ve become so popular. Here are some of their primary functionalities: 

Use In The Pharmaceutical Space 

As you would expect, the most prominent thing that empty gel capsules are used for is to make medicine. With these capsules, you can easily get accurate dosages without much stress. 

Taking Herbal Supplements 

There are several botanical extracts and herbal supplements that are also taken in the form of gelatin capsules, with their ability to help you take them in a measured form. 

Using Custom Blends Effectively

If you’re creating a custom blend of supplements that can’t be found in most pharmacies, then you’ll probably need these capsules to effectively take them. 

Formulations For Probiotics

There are a few custom probiotic formulations that are built in the form of gelatin capsules. With the capsules, you can protect your bacteria content from any environmental elements. 

Capturing Aromatherapy Formulations

Aromatic substances, essential pills, and more can be made in the form of gelatin capsules. With the capsules, you can easily control your dosage of these materials significantly. 

Pharmaceutical Research Applications

Before a drug is launched into the market, its developers will need to first research and experiment with it. Everything from the formulations to the sizes of capsules needs to be tested, and empty gelatin capsules make it possible to do that. 

Even Animals Use Them

Just like humans, animals need to take medications from time to time. In the veterinary space, gelatin capsules can be used to provide the right types of medications to animals. 

Applications In the Beauty Industry 

Beauty powders, serums, and more can be formulated into capsules as well, making them comparatively easier to consume. 

Consumption Of Cannabis-Based Products

CBD is already one of the most popular materials in the world. And capsules are among the many formulations available.


With the pharmaceutical market undergoing significant change, there are a lot of applications that empty gelatin capsules are seeing. And, if you’re looking to make your own herbal or pharmaceutical formulations, then this is something you might want to keep in mind too. 

At Sainty Tec, we’re always available to help you out. Reach out to us, and let’s see how we can assist you. 

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