A Guide to Pharmaceutical Extraction: Solvent Selection and Optimization 

A Guide to Pharmaceutical Extraction: Solvent Selection and Optimization 

A common step involved in pharmaceutical processes is extraction; the process of getting the desired drug or compound out from surrounding material for isolation and purification. A regular technique in pharmaceutical extraction is the use of solvents, an added chemical that dissolves the desired compound but doesn’t interact with the other undesired compounds. 

By taking advantage of this selective solubility, a drug can be isolated from dozens of compounds, each with unique properties, to just one compound, with known properties that are easy to work with. This concept is the foundation of solvent-based extraction. 

Desirable Properties of Solvents 

When choosing a solvent for pharmaceutical extraction, there are several criteria to meet that help narrow down the list of possible solvents. These criteria include: 

  • The target compound must be soluble in the solvent – You want a solvent that will interact with the compound you’re extracting, but you don’t want it to extract undesired compounds from the solution. For example, if you are using a polar solvent, it will likely interact better with a polar solute.  
  • The other compounds must not be soluble in the solvent – If the other undesired compounds are soluble in the solvent, they may contaminate the final product.  
  • The solvent must be sufficiently volatile for separation – This is important in the isolation of the drug once it has been extracted. Even if you have successfully extracted and separated the target compound from the outside material, it won’t matter if you are not able to extract the solvent itself. The ideal solvent will have a low boiling point to allow for easy evaporation, leaving the target compound behind.  
  • The solvent must be safe for use in pharmaceutical applications – Because it is being used for pharmaceutical extraction, it is important to use a non-toxic or low-toxicity solvent, to pose fewer health risks to both workers and consumers. If a solvent is not completely non-toxic, it is extremely important to ensure rigorous testing of the final product to ensure there is no contamination and it is safe for consumption.  

Where to Buy Solvents for Pharmaceutical Extraction 

Here at Extraction Grade Solvents, we’ve been providing high-quality, eco-friendly solvents since 1991. Check out our organic solvents such as hexane to get started. If you need help determining the right solvent for your process, contact us today to speak to our knowledgeable and experienced experts in extraction.