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Over the past week or so, I've been experimenting with infusing lime peels in alcohol, by:

  1. Peel limes
  2. Mix with 250mL of 151-proof grain alcohol
  3. Let sit for a week
  4. Strain through a coffee filter.

What I got is a nice, clear-green liquid:

lime-peel infusion in a 250mL swing-top bottle

However, I've discovered that when you dilute this with water, it becomes cloudy:

animated GIF of water mixing with my lime infusion

(click to see bigger, longer version)

Why does mixing two clear liquids create a cloudy liquid?

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If you let it sit, does it stay cloudy? – Marti Jul 21 '13 at 2:52
+1 for the animated gif. Shows real commitment. – ElendilTheTall Jul 21 '13 at 8:30
After letting it sit for maybe half an hour, it stayed cloudy. I haven't tried letting it sit for longer than this. – Evan Krall Jul 21 '13 at 20:43
up vote 13 down vote accepted

This is a kind of emulsion called the Ouzo Effect (ouzo and other aniseed drinks also do this). I won't pretend to know enough to explain it, but it's essentially down to how oils (like those in fruit skin), water, and alcohol interact when stirred or otherwise agitated.

Wikipedia has an article that explains it fully.

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Easy, when you make your extract with the peels you extract the oil also and when you mix it with water to thin it down the oil "demulsify" meaning it comes out a solution. If you would take the same solution and add high-proof spirit back to it it would go away.

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