What Are the Different Plant Extraction Methods?

What Are the Different Plant Extraction Methods?

Important Terms

When it comes to plant extraction it is important to know the vocabulary involved. Below are some important words to know when regarding different plant extraction methods.

  • Grinding
    • Finely grinding the plant material used, be it roots, stem, leaves, or flower, creates more surface area for the chosen solvent to interact with. This increases extraction efficiency. The plant material is often ground in the lab using a mill. The plant material is sometimes dried before the grinding process takes place.
  • Extraction
    • In order to remove the desired soluble components of the plant material, the plant material is put in a solvent. The desired components range from flavonoids to terpenes.
  • Solvent
    • A substance, often in liquid form, is used to dissolve other materials to form a solution. In the case of plant extraction methods, the solvent is used to remove certain compounds from the plant material. Solvents can be polar and non-polar. Common solvents used in plant extraction are water, ethanol, butane, ether, ionic, and liquid.
  • Flavonoid
    • These are found in plant cells, specifically in the vacuoles. They’re water-soluble and have anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Thermolabile
    • Is a term used to describe something that is unstable to the point of losing certain properties when heated.
  • Terpenes
    • Found in many types of plants these aromatic compounds create scents and are often found in essential oils. If you’ve ever enjoyed the smell of lavender or pine, terpenes are the reason.
  • Winterization
    • Is a process involving ethanol that removes wax, plant lipids, and fat from the plant extract.
  • Distillation/Isolation
    • Through heating the extract at certain temperatures, the separate chemicals of the plant extract can be isolated. This process is used specifically with CBD oil to remove THC.

Plant Extraction Methods

  • Maceration
    • Involves taking powdered plant material, commonly leaves or stem/root bark, and placing it inside a container where a solvent is poured over the top until the plant material is fully covered. For around 3 days the container is kept and stirred periodically. Later the final product is achieved by filtration or decantation.
  • Infusion
    • Similar to maceration the plant material is ground into a powder and then placed into a container where a solvent is poured over it and it is kept for a brief period of time. The solvent to plant ratio which depends on the intended use is commonly 4:1 or 16:1.
  • Digestion
    • The extraction solvent is placed in a container with powdered plant material. Then heat around 122° F in temperature is applied to decrease the extraction solvent’s viscosity. This method is good for readily soluble plant material.
  • Decoction
    • Dried and powdered is placed in a container and water is poured over it and stirred. Then, heat is applied to speed up the extraction. It is used to extract the water-soluble and heat-stable plant material.
  • Ultrasound-assisted Extraction
    • The plant material is dried, ground, and sieved. After being mixed with a solvent it is put into an ultrasonic extractor. A 20 kHz plus frequency is used to disrupt the plant cell and increase the surface area for the solvent to penetrate. When this happens, secondary metabolites will be released. This speeds up the extraction process.

Curious About Plant Extraction?

If you’d like to learn more about plant extraction methods Extraction Grade Solvents is here to help! Click here to learn more about plant extraction or click here to contact us to learn more about our available solvents!