Gelatin Capsules: The Ultimate Guide

Given the affordable nature and usefulness of gelatin, its capsules are now commonly used to encase many medicinal compounds and dietary supplements in the pharmaceutical and nutrition industry. They provide an easy way to consume supplements by removing unpleasant tastes and odors while offering precise dosing. 

Whether you are a manufacturer or a consumer, it is crucial to understand the various types of gelatin capsules, their ingredients, and how they compare to vegetarian capsules.

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Ingredients of Gelatin Capsules

Gelatin capsules are generally made of animal by-products. They are intended for oral use as they are easy to swallow due to their smooth surface which breaks down later in the stomach.  

Let’s discuss the main ingredients of these capsules below:  

1. Gelatin

Gelatin is a protein derived from collagen obtained from beef-giving animals and pigs. However, vegetarian and halal options made from vegetable cellulose or starch are also available.

2. Water

Water acts as a solvent in the gelatin capsule manufacturing process. The aqueous gelatin solution is then molded into the shape of capsules using specialized equipment. The capsules are then dried and inspected to ensure they are of appropriate size, shape, and quality.

3. Other Ingredients

You can add small amounts of additional ingredients, such as preservatives or dyes, to improve the stability and appearance of your capsules. The amount of additives is low enough to be considered safe for human consumption.

5 Reasons to Use Gelatin Capsules  

Pharmaceutical Tablets can often be hard to swallow, dry, and bitter; as an alternative, you can choose to replace them with Gelatin Capsules. Some of their advantages are as follows. 

  1. Easy to swallow: They are smooth and slippery, making them easy to swallow, especially if you have difficulty swallowing pills or tablets.
  2. Tasteless and odorless: Gelatin capsules are tasteless and odorless, which makes them ideal if the substances you consume are unpleasant-tasting or foul-smelling.
  3. Protection of contents: Gelatin capsules protect their contents from exposure to air, moisture, and light, which can degrade their quality and effectiveness.
  4. Customizable: You can customize Gelatin capsules to fit specific dosage requirements and fill them with various substances, including powders, liquids, and gels.
  5. Safe and natural: Gelatin capsules are made from a natural source and are considered safe for most people. They are also biodegradable and do not harm the environment.


Based on their rigidity, filling material, and manufacturing process, we can divide gelatin capsules into two main types: 

Hard Gelatin Capsules

Hard Gelatin Capsules

Hard capsules come in the form of two hollow shell components that fit together – the body is formed from a cylindrical section of gelatin, and the cap is made up of a smaller circular section. These are used in the pharmaceutical industry often.

Here’s how hard caps are produced:

Step 1 – Gelatin Preparation: Gelatin is prepared by mixing it with water and other additives, such as plasticizers and glycerin.

Step 2 – Shell Formation: The gelatin solution is then poured into a mold to form the cylindrical section of the capsule shell.

Step 3 – Cap Formation: The smaller circular section of the capsule shell is formed separately.

Step 4 – Filling: The body and cap of the capsule are then filled with the active ingredient by a capsule-filling machine.

Step 5 – Capsule Closure: The cap is then fitted onto the body of the capsule to create a complete two-piece capsule.

Soft Gelatin Capsules 

These sealed capsules have a flexible gelatin shell and can deliver powdered, liquid, or semi-solid drugs, vitamins, and supplements.

The soft gelatin capsule manufacturing process involves the following steps:

Step 1 – Gelatin Preparation: The gelatin is prepared by mixing it with water, plasticizers, and other additives.

Step 2 – Encapsulation: The gelatin solution is poured into a machine that covers the fill material within the shell using a soft gel encapsulator

Step 3 – Drying: The capsules are dried to remove excess moisture.

Step 4 – Trimming: The capsules are trimmed to remove excess gelatin.

Step 5 – Inspection: Machine equipment is used to inspect capsules for defects.

Step 6 – Packaging: The capsules are then packaged and shipped.

Gelatin Capsules

Gelatin Hardcaps vs. Softgels

Let’s compare hard and soft gelatin capsules.

Hard Gelatin CapsulesSoft Gelatin Capsules.
Hard gelatin capsules are physically harder and more rigid. Soft gelatin capsules are more flexible and physically softer.
Filling Material 
Hard gelatin capsules carry solid elements inside them.  Soft gelatin capsules are used for delivering liquid or semi-solid fill materials.
It is manufactured in a five-step process.It is manufactured in a six-step process.

Regular and Vegetarian Gelatin Capsules 

The choice between gelatin capsules vs. vegetarian capsules depends on your specific needs and preferences, including dietary restrictions, personal beliefs, and product stability requirements. The primary differences between the two substances are as follows.

Regular Gelatin CapsulesVegetarian Gelatin Capsules
The materials required to prepare gelatin are strictly derived from animals.Vegetarian gelatin capsules are made from plant cellulose, typically from tree bark or vegetable fibers. They can also be manufactured from Tapioca root extracts.
Dietary Concerns
Regular gelatin capsules are not suitable for people who strictly follow vegan, halal, or vegetarian diets. Vegetarian capsules are suitable for all diets
Gelatin is a hydrophilic substance (easily dissolvable in water). This property allows gelatin capsules to dissolve in the acidic environment of your stomach quickly. They take longer to dissolve and may be less easily digestible.
These capsules are less stable than vegetarian capsules and may be more prone to cracking or leaking.Vegetarian Capsules are generally more stable and less likely to degrade over time.
They are generally less expensive than vegetarian capsules.They generally cost more


Primary Uses Of Gelatin Capsules 

Gelatin capsules are commonly used in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and cosmetic industries to deliver medications, supplements, and other substances to the body. 

1. Oral Medications

Gelatin capsules are frequently distributed as pharmaceutical capsules, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs. You can fill these capsules with various medications that are otherwise sensitive or hard to work with. 

2. Nutritional Supplements

Gelatin capsules for nutritional supplements deliver vitamins, minerals, and herbal extracts. The capsules are an easy and convenient way for people to take daily supplements.

3. Probiotics 

Gelatin capsules are also used to deliver probiotics, which are live bacteria and yeasts beneficial to the digestive system. They protect the probiotics from stomach acid and deliver them to the intestines, where they can provide their health benefits.

4. Cosmetics 

Gelatin capsules are used in the cosmetic industry to deliver various skincare products, including serums, oils, and creams. The capsules are an innovative and hygienic way to deliver high-quality skincare products.

5. Flavors and Colors 

Gelatin capsules can give flavors and colors to food products. This is particularly useful for products challenging to flavor or color directly, such as supplements or pharmaceuticals. You can coat the outer covering of gelatin with food-grade material and ink to color your product.


Gelatin capsules are a popular choice for encapsulating dietary supplements, medications, and herbs due to their numerous advantages. They are easy to swallow, mask unpleasant tastes and odors, and are available in various sizes and colors. If you do not consume animal products, remember to choose vegetarian gelatin capsules only.

More Source:

Capsule Filling Machine – SaintyCo

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