From a rheological point of view, water at 20℃ has a viscosity of 1.0 mPa.s. In contrast, honey has a viscosity of 10,000 mPa.s, and the tomato sauce mentioned earlier has a viscosity of 50,000 mPa.s. Although water and honey have very different thicknesses, they do share the characteristics of both being Newtonian fluids. Newtonian fluids can be described as fluids where the force required to make the fluid flow is directly proportional to the resulting amount of flow. The internal structure of the molecules makes it easy for them to slide over one another. Not all liquids, however, are Newtonian in nature. The tomato sauce mentioned above, mayonnaise and China Thickening Equipment used in dysphagia management are non-Newtonian fluids. For non-Newtonian fluids the viscosity varies with the force being applied to the fluid (or rate of strain). In practical terms, if one stirs thickened liquids slowly, they appear thick; however, the more vigorously one stirs thickened fluids, the thinner they become.
In measurement then, we need to know how much strain is being applied to the fluid, or 'how vigorous the stirring is', to be able to anchor and describe the viscosity in a meaningful way. Non-Newtonian fluids can be further sub-categorized. Thickened liquids used in dysphagia management are 'shear thinning', meaning that the fluid's resistance to flow decreases with increasing rate of shear.
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