What Are Alternative Solvents?

What Are Alternative Solvents?

The use of solvents has recently come under scrutiny regarding its environmental impact and relationship with public health. Because of this, there has been a renewed interest in alternative solvents and green solvents. Luckily, due to the efforts of green chemistry, research continues around alternative solvents and a number of solvents are looking promising, delivering results similar to those they are meant to replace while doing less harm.

What Are Alternative Solvents

Alternative solvents are solvents that are more eco-friendly than the traditional petroleum-based solvents in use. Alternative solvents are ideally easy to recycle, don’t contaminate the product, and have low toxicity among other things. They are often derived from natural sources like excess plant waste from agricultural production. Alternative solvents can be used to extract botanicals for use in the food industry as well as the cosmetic industry.

Benefits of Alternative Solvents

One of the reasons alternative solvents have are becoming more popular is because of the benefits they possess. Alternative solvents are less toxic than traditional solvents, and some have specific desirable qualities like non-flammability and being easily biodegradable.

Certain alternative solvents, like alpha-pinene and 2-MeTHF, are bio-based solvents that come from natural plant sources. Alpha-pinene (α-pinene) comes from the oil of the longleaf pine and 2-MeTHF is made with bran, oat hulls, and peanut husks. 2-MeTHF is particularly beneficial because it can be made from the excess products of agriculture which reduces waste.

In some cases, alternative solvents are just as effective or more effective than traditional solvents. 2-MeTHF was found to be better than hexane at preserving the antioxidants in the oils of both black cumin and basil seeds. The oils extracted with 2- MeTHF were also rich in phenolic acids. When α-pinene was used to extract fatty acids from oilseeds, like soybeans, sunflowers, it was revealed that its recycling capacity was around 90%, 40% above hexane’s. There was also no major degradation in α-pinene from being recycled.

Curious about Alternative Solvents?

Ecolink has a variety of effective alternative solvents and green solvents available. If you would like to learn more about the various available options, click here to get more information and assistance!