Caffeine Extraction 101

Say you are looking to add a little caffeine into a drink or even into a cake or anything else for that matter. Sounds awesome, right? With a little know-how, it is easy.

Here we look at two caffeine extraction methods. Both these articles have excellent information on two completely different methods of extracting caffeine – Extracting (almost pure) Caffeine from Caffeine Pills and Extraction of caffeine from tea leaves.

Caffeine is a stimulant and is found within nature in both the tea bush and the coffee plant. Kola nuts and guarana berries also are a rich source of caffeine.

Caffeine is excellent for keeping you mentally alert and for warding off drowsiness. Most cultures the world over ingest some form of caffeine-related beverage or food every day.

Method One – Extraction from Pills

Crushing a caffeine pill may seem like the easiest option; however, it will not taste good. By extracting the pure caffeine from within the pill, it will be far more palatable. Here’s how –

What you need

A clean sheet of glass to work on
A mortar and pestle or a wooden rolling pin
Caffeine pills (any generic kind)
100% alcohol solvent
A pipette
A razor
An angled desk lamp

Instructions

  1. Begin in a well ventilated area
  2. Crush up the pills until they resemble a fine powder
  3. Dissolve the powder in alcohol
  4. Let the mixture settle until it forms two layers
  5. When the alcohol layer is clear, use the pipette to lift and drop the solution onto the glass
  6. This solution will evaporate, leaving caffeine crystals on the glass
  7. Continue this process until there is no alcohol layer left
  8. Next add more alcohol and keep repeating the process until the caffeine crystals run out
  9. At the end, you’re left with your pure caffeine!

Method Two – Extraction from Tea Leaves

Let’s say you’re trapped in your grandma’s kitchen and you don’t have any actual caffeine pills, only tea bags. And you’re not thirsty. Fear not! There’s still hope, especially if your grandma has chemistry equipment. This method is more for scientists and science students than lay people. However, it still works.

This video demonstrates the procedure below.

What you need

Filter paper
A Separatory funnel
An Erlenmeyer flask
A Hirsch funnel
Tea leaves
Cotton wool
Magnesium sulphate anhydrous
Calcium carbonate
Petroleum ether
Sodium chloride
Dichloromethane

Instructions

  1. Boil tea bags, water, and calcium carbonate while swirling the mixture gently
  2. Introduce suction filtration
  3. Cool mixture in an ice bath
  4. Add sodium chloride and twice extract the solution with dichloromethane
  5. Collect the organic layer and dry with magnesium sulphate anhydrous
  6. Filter and evaporate the solvent with rota-vapor
  7. Weigh and purify your caffeine

So here you have two distinct and different methods for extracting caffeine for your own use. Whichever way you choose to do so, do remember that pure caffeine is extremely potent and it is important to read up on the effects in order to know exactly how much to use in your drinks, baking, and so on.

Phillip Johnson

Phillip Johnson is a freelance writer and presenter on cognitive enhancement through Nootropics and other cognitive related supplements.

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