Acetone and Ethanol are both organic compounds with almost the same atomic components (Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen). While they are both used as extraction solvents, there are still some differences between acetone and ethanol extraction.
Acetone is a clear liquid chemical that is used to break down substances. It is found in many household items such as nail polish remover, paint remover and varnish remover. It occurs naturally, is safe to use, is non-toxic, and is cheaper than many other organic solvents. Ethanol, on the other hand, is a polar solvent. This means that ethanol will easily mix with water and also breakdown water soluble molecules. It is found in toothpastes and mouthwashes—more everyday items!
Difference Between Acetone and Ethanol Extraction
Acetone extraction occurs when a desired substance is removed from a raw material when acetone is used as the extraction solvent. The process is simple: grinding the raw material to a pulp, soaking it in acetone and then filtering off the desired product.
Ethanol extraction occurs when a desired substance is removed from a raw product when using ethanol as the extraction solvent. This process is very similar to acetone extraction: the raw product is soaked in ethanol and then the ethanol is filtered out.
Due to ethanol’s highly polar nature, it is ideal for extracting oils from plants. Polar solvents, such as ethanol, are great at breaking down and/or bonding to water-soluble substances and because oil is water-insoluble, ethanol is unable to bind to it, making it ideal for extracting oils.
So which is better for extraction, acetone or ethanol?
Both ethanol and acetone have low boiling points so they can be used for extraction at room temperature and with heat with efficiency. Also, both ethanol and acetone are found in everyday household items, proving their safety. Caution still must be used because they are flammable chemicals, however they are non-toxic and safe for use.
These two chemicals are very similar; they are cost effective, safe, efficient and readily available. The methods of extraction for them are also very similar, almost the same, with just the solvent change being the main difference. Acetone is preferred for extracting solids, as it has a high capacity for removing antioxidants while ethanol is preferred for extracting oils due to its highly polar nature.
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