How Does Solvent Extraction Work?

How Does Solvent Extraction Work?

Want to Learn About Solvent Extraction?

Are you curious about how solvent extractions work? Maybe you have read about using solvents for extraction, or perhaps you are even thinking about performing extractions to create your own products. Whatever the case may be, this blog post will likely provide some useful information, as it will go over what solvent extraction is and how solvent extractions work.

What is Solvent Extraction?

Before jumping into how solvent extractions work, let us define solvent extraction. Solvent, or liquid-liquid, extraction is the process of blending two immiscible liquids in order to isolate a particular compound. Immiscible means that the two liquids cannot mix together. This is due to their polarity- a polar liquid cannot dissolve in a nonpolar liquid.

How Solvent Extractions Work

How, exactly, do solvent extractions work? When performed in the laboratory, a separatory funnel is often employed to carry out the extraction. The steps of basic solvent extraction are as follows:

  1. The solution that contains the compound to be extracted will be added to a separatory funnel along with two liquids- an aqueous liquid (usually water) and an organic solvent.
  2. The separatory funnel will be capped and turned upside down. The stopcock will be opened to release any built-up pressure, and the funnel will be gently shaken. This process may be repeated several times.
  3. When returned upright, the funnel will contain two layers: an aqueous and organic layer. Their order will depend on their respective densities- the denser liquid will be on the bottom, and the less dense one on top.
  4. Finally, the location of the desired compound must be determined. If it is polar, it will be in the aqueous layer; nonpolar, in the organic layer. The two layers will be drained out by opening the stopcock and allowing each layer to flow into a separate beaker.

The extraction process on a large, industrial-scale may differ from the steps listed above, but for smaller productions, this is generally how solvent extractions work.

Interested in Solvents for Extraction?

Now that you have learned about how solvent extractions work, you may be thinking about buying solvents to perform your own extraction processes. Here at Extraction Grade Solvents, we supply several professional-grade solvents in bulk sizes. Additionally, our team would be happy to answer any further questions about how solvent extractions work or which solvent would be best for your needs. Contact us today to learn more!