3 Easy Steps for Safe Solvent Extraction

Solvent Extraction

Safe solvent extraction for soluble components of plants

Solvent extraction for soluble components of plants is one of the safest forms of extraction. It provides similar results to other commonly used methods and is one of the least expensive options available, making it popular in the essential oils and botanicals industries. Using common laboratory equipment, it’s easy to create a smooth workflow that is fast, safe, and inexpensive.

Start with Ethanol

Typically, high-proof alcohols (190 and 200) have been used for extraction applications. Ethanol is emerging as one of the more popular solvents because it is safe for infused edibles and compatible with any type of container. Ethanol also provides consistent results while being easily recoverable.

Step 1: Soak

Mix plant material with the ethanol. Use enough ethanol so the material is completely submerged. Leave the mixture in an ultralow temperature freezer for 24 hours. The ethanol will separate the soluble components of the extract during this soaking period.

Mix plant material with the ethanol. Use enough ethanol so the material is completely submerged. Leave the mixture in an ultralow temperature freezer for 24 hours. The ethanol will separate the soluble components of the extract during this soaking period.

Step 2: Filter

Remove all solid materials with a simple filtration step requiring only a Büchner funnel, and a vacuum flask. After the material has been filtered, a solution of ethanol and extract remains.

Step 3: Separate

Now the extract needs to be separated from the ethanol. To separate the two, use a rotary evaporator. When connected to a vacuum pump, the rotary evaporator uses the vacuum to lower the boiling point of ethanol, resulting in a quicker evaporation. The resulting extract or oil will be completely free of ethanol. This process also allows ethanol to be recovered for additional extractions.

A variety of rotary evaporator sizes are available to fit any application, ranging from laboratory research use to large-scale production plants. If needs change, ramping up production will not be an issue. If the rotary evaporator is not equipped with a heating bath, one will need to be purchased separately. A is also needed as this connects to the rotary evaporator to accelerate solvent recovery.

After completing these simple steps, the extract is now ready for the next phase of the process.

Need a purer extract?

For a purer extract, winterization is recommended. Winterization is a process where fats, plant lipids, or any kind of waxes are removed from the extract. This can be accomplished by adding ethanol to the extract. Repeat the filtering step and again use the rotor evaporator to boil off the ethanol, leaving a pure extract that can be dried in a laboratory oven or readily infused.

Note: If using a distillation apparatus with an insulated vessel instead of a rotor evaporator, a recirculating chiller is required to keep the ethanol at the appropriate temperature.

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