While the word “decoction” may sound like a complicated chemistry term, the method itself is as simple as making soup. Specifically, this process involves boiling a tough material in a solvent to extract a desired compound. A great example of this would be boiling vegetables in water to make veggie broth, but decoction is also used in industrial processes as a method of plant extraction.
How Do I Perform Decoction?
When trying to remove an active ingredient from solid plant material, it is important to follow the following steps:
- Add sturdy plant materials to enough solvent in a heat-safe container.
- Boil solvent with tough plant material for at least 15 minutes (timing and heat level depend on the plant).
- Allow the resulting liquid and solids to cool.
- Strain the mixture to remove the remaining plant material.
- Hoorah! Your newly extracted compound is ready to use.
Before starting, keep in mind the selection of your solvent. Most decoctions are made using water, but aqueous ethanol or glycerol may also be used in select cases.
When Should I Use Decoction?
What makes decocting plant material special is the added step of boiling or simmering the plant from which you are trying to extract. That means that much tougher materials can be used for extraction, particularly the roots, seeds, or bark of a plant.
Importantly, this process can only be used when the ingredient you are trying to extract is water-soluble and heat-stable. If your target ingredient is not water-soluble, the results will be less broth-like, and instead may form a separated oil, or will not be removed from the plant material at all. If the target ingredient is not heat-stable, it may be damaged or released into the atmosphere during the decoction procedure.
What Plants Can Be Decocted?
Decoction is used commonly in traditional medicine and even for making certain delicious and beneficial teas. Some common examples of plants that could be used include:
- Licorice Root
Many other plants can also be decocted for their valuable active ingredients. In fact, many of the health products on the market today come from decoction.
Want to Learn More About Plant Extraction?
For help determining the best extraction methods for your plant-based product, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Extraction Grade Solvent experts! We can help provide the knowledge and materials you need. Click here to contact us today!