Caffeine Extraction 101

Here we look at three caffeine extraction methods:
Extracting caffeine from caffeine pills, from coffee grounds, and from tea leaves/bags.

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.

However, these extraction methods below are impractical and are only for fun. Caffeine is much cheaper (time and money-wise) to buy in caffeine anhydrous powder format.

Method One – Extraction from Pills

Crushing a caffeine pill may seem like the easiest option. Here’s how –

What you need

A mortar and pestle or a wooden rolling pin
Caffeine pills (any generic kind)
Dichloromethane or other organic solvent such as 95%+ ethanol
Erlenmeyer flask
Fritted glass filter and vacuum pump
Watch glass or other glass cover for the Erlenmeyer flask
Büchner funnel


  1. Begin in a well ventilated area
  2. Crush up the pills until they resemble a fine powder
  3. Transfer the powder to the Erlenmeyer flask
  4. Pour 120mL of DCM (dichloromethane) or ethanol into the flask
  5. Place the watch glass or cover on top and stir manually (or use a stir stick) until the solids sink to the bottom (only caffeine and povidone will be soluble in the DCM)
  6. Let the mixture settle until it forms two layers and wait until the solids form in the bottom
  7. Pour the solution into a fritted glass filter and use a vacuum pump to separate the liquid from the solids
  8. Repeat this process until the filtrate is almost. But use 50mL of DCM (instead of the original 120mL) in the Erlenmeyer flask each time.
  9. Stop this process either after four cycles or once the solution is almost clear
  10. Remove the DCM via distillation. Then break up the left over powder at the bottom of the flask and transfer the powder to a beaker
  11. Recrystallize the powder by dissolving it in hot water. The impurities should remain soluble while heating and the caffeine should drop out of solution.
  12. Let the solution cool and then place in a freezer once at room temperature so that more caffeine recrystallizes.
  13. Pull the caffeine out of the freezer and add it to a Büchner funnel. Once it “deflates”, turn off the vacuum and add cold water.
  14. Turn the vacuum on again. The caffeine should look purer/whiter than before
  15. Repeat this Büchner funnel process 1-2 more times until the caffeine stops becoming whiter
  16. Run the vacuum until the caffeine is dry
  17. transfer the caffeine to a crystallizing dish and heat (at low temp) in the oven
  18. Once dry, crush the caffeine into a fine powder. This is your yielded pure caffeine.

Caffeine Pill Extraction Instructional Video

Method Two – Extraction from Tea Leaves

This method requires several more steps and more chemistry equipment. It’s technically more of an extraction than the caffeine pills, since the pill method was more of a separation process.

This video demonstrates the procedure below.

What you need
6 tea bags
6 grams of Na2CO3 (sodium carbonate)
Filter paper
A Separatory funnel
An Erlenmeyer flask
Dichloromethane (DCM)


  1. Place the tea bags, water, and sodium carbonate while swirling the mixture gently
  2. Bring the solution to a boil for about 10 minutes
  3. Introduce a lid to limit water loss. Remove the lid and let the bubbles settle if it starts overflowing.
  4. Transfer the mixture to an Erlenmeyer flask while keeping the tea bags in the beaker
  5. Add 60mL of water and repeat the process
  6. Add this new batch of tea to the existing batch in the Erlenmeyer flask
  7. OPTIONAL: Filter the tea extract before the separation process
  8. Transfer the tea extract to a separatory funnel and add DCM (dichloromethane) to the funnel
  9. Cap the separatory funnel and shake gently
  10. Allow the layers to settle and drain the bottom DCM layer
  11. Repeat this process three times and use 15mL of DCM each time
  12. Set up distillation to remove the DCM
  13. Remove the crude caffeine from the flask and transfer to a test tube.
  14. Add DCM to the test tube and boil it off until you are left with caffeine crystals.
  15. Vacuum filter the crystals and wash them using cold 95% ethanol
  16. Dry the crystals under vacuum

Method Three – Extraction from Coffee

This is basically the same process as the tea extraction.
What you need
Ground coffee
Sodium carbonate
Distilled water
Watch glass (optiona)
Paper coffee filters
Dichloromethane (DCM)
A Separatory funnel

  1. Add 10g of ground coffee, 4g of sodium carbonate, and 60mL of distilled water to a beaker
  2. Place a watch glass on top and boil the mixture for at least 15 minutes. To limit foaming, shake the beaker.
  3. Filter the grinds from the solution using gravity filtration with a paper filter. Place the watch glass on top of the filter to limit heat loss while filtering.
  4. Wash the original flask with boiling water and refilter. Then add another 100mL of water while filtering. Microwave the gravity filter if it becomes too cool.
  5. Transfer the coffee to the separatory funnel and add 15mL of DCM.
  6. Once the caffeine separates at the bottom, pour only the caffeine (the clear layer) into a beaker.
  7. After filtering the first time, refilter with another 15mL of DCM, then a final, third time with 10mL of DCM.
  8. You should be left with a cloudy solution. Pour this back into the filter and add a saturated salt solution to pull out the water.
  9. After filtering, add this solution to a beaker and add a drying agent, such as molecular sieves, to remove remaining water. Do this for 20 minutes.
  10. Add this solution to a clean beaker. Bring this to a boil to remove DCM the solvent. Be careful not to overheat and burn the remaining caffeine. DCM has a low boiling point.
  11. You should be left with brown, crude caffeine. Recrystallize this using 95% ethanol and place in a freezer.
  12. Take the contents out of the freezer and place in a vacuum filter. Dry in the vacuum for 30 minutes. This should yield pure, white caffeine.

Instructional Video


Whichever method 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.

Is Sublingual Administration Safe for Nootropics?

nootropics sublingual

Nootropics can boost your creativity.

Sublingual administration is one of many ways to take a supplement for maximum effect.  It is done by putting a supplement under the tongue and allowing it to diffuse into the bloodstream through the mucous membrane beneath the tongue.  Taking substances this way can lead to faster effects because they go straight into the bloodstream rather than being passed through the liver first or being degraded by stomach acid.

While this seems like an effective way to take nootropic supplements, many users may wonder if this method is safe.  While the majority of nootropics are perfect safe to take sublingually, some are better than others to ingest this way.

Which Supplements Can I Take Sublingually?

The effects of taking a nootropic sublingually depend on the composition of the substance.  Anything that is more acidic, like phenibut, may make the mouth sore, as do substances like adrafinil.  Some are just not as effective because they dissolve slowly, like sulbutiamine.

nootropics writing

Nootropics can also boost your writing ability.

These types of supplements are best taken orally with water or juice for optimal safety and efficacy.  The ideal nootropic for sublingual administration is one that dissolves quickly and is more effective when it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and skips the liver.

Racetam supplements, like aniracetam and coluracetam, as well as derivatives like noopept, are much more effective when they are absorbed into the tongue’s mucous membrane.  Nootropics like Alpha GPC also dissolve quickly, and have no associated taste. It also helps that many nootropics, coluracetam and noopept in particular, have very minute dosages which makes sublingual supplementation much easier.

Is It Better To Take Nootropics Sublingually?

sublingual nootropics

Sublingual administration involves putting the supplement under your tongue.

Sublingual administration is not necessarily better or worse than oral administration, and choosing to take nootropics this way entirely depends on the needs of the individual.  Taking nootropics beneath the tongue allows the user to take smaller doses because they are more effective, more concentrated, and work faster.

Also, users trying to avoid stress on the stomach and intestinal tract may take supplements sublingually to avoid side effects related to the digestive system.  Bypassing the stomach also means better absorption and less degradation, making the supplement more potent [1].

While sublingual administration seems better and more effective, it can be difficult to find nootropics designed to be taken this way. Generally, racetams as well as l-theanine and vitamin B6 will be widely available this way.  Otherwise, many supplements are only intended for oral administration.

The Safest Way to Take Nootropics with Sublingual Administration

The best way to remain safe when taking nootropics is to follow the instructions and dosages and only use sublingual administration when the supplement is intended for this form of absorption.  These supplements are entirely safe when taken as intended, but may irritate the mouth if used incorrectly.

As with any supplement, it’s best to pay attention to the guidelines to enjoy maximum positive effects.  However, finding nootropics designed to be taken sublingually can be a great way to enjoy quick and powerful cognitive effects without losing significant amounts of the supplement as the body breaks it down.