When it comes to botanical extraction, choosing a solvent can be dependent on the type of plant, the part of the plant to be used in the extraction process, and what compound needs to be extracted from the plant.
The most basic and widely used solvent is ethanol. Ethanol, usually 95% or 99% grade, is pretty generic alcohol that can be used for a variety of plant extractions. It is the safest option and likely the most accessible. The same can be said for methanol, though methanol does have more potential for safety hazards.
What Factors Affect Solvent Efficacy?
As previously stated, several factors influence the effectiveness of a solvent, particularly:
- chemical composition of the plant
- biological activity of the desired compound(s)
- solvent safety
Ethanol and methanol are the most used solvents in extraction because their efficacy is not too stifled by any of these factors. Their basic chemical compositions can interact with many compounds without doing damage or producing unwanted results.
Polarity in Botanical Extraction
The biggest determining factor for which solvent to use for extraction is the polarity of the desired compounds and of the solvent. Polarity refers to the net electrical charge carried by atoms. The polarity of a compound and of a solvent is directly related to what compounds can be extracted. A non-polar solvent will dissolve non-polar compounds, like oils or lipids, while a polar solvent will only dissolve polar compounds.
This is where ethanol comes into play. Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, is made up of one hydroxyl group and one ethyl group bonded together. The hydroxyl group in ethanol is very polar—this means that ethanol can dissolve polar compounds. The ethyl group, however, is very non-polar—this means that ethanol can also dissolve non-polar compounds. This diversity is one of the reasons that ethanol is such a great solvent for botanical extractions.
Though ethanol is ideal for many extractions, other polar solvents include:
And some non-polar solvents that are commonly used include:
Basically, when choosing a solvent, it is important to determine several chemical factors of the desired compound to be sure that an appropriate solvent is chosen. That being said, ethanol and methanol are the best options for most botanical extractions due to their safety, efficiency, and ability to produce consistently high-quality results.
Want to Buy Solvents for Botanical Extraction?
Extraction Grade Solvents provides high-quality, eco-friendly solvents in bulk quantities at affordable prices. To purchase a solvent, like methanol or ethanol, contact our team today.