Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Determine the concentration/purity of Caffeine in a precipitate

  1. Jun 29, 2011 #1
    So, I've extracted a small amount of (hopefully) caffeine from coffee via solvent extraction with hexane. Quick note before i go on, I know that this is possibly not the best method - however I am trying to determine the best method of caffeine extraction via experiment.

    Anyways, to determine what is the best method, I obviously need to know the purity of my sample. I would have thought that a titration would be best? Anyone else got any other ideas? And what could I titrate against. I had thought of HCl or H2SO4, but I'm not sure if there's anything that would indicate to me the the completion of the reaction, apart from say temperature change... maybe pKa?

    Would anyone be able to point me in the right direction?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 29, 2011 #2


    User Avatar

    I would use thin-layer chromatography to assess the purity; it's more informative and less time-consuming than titration, and requires less equipment than spectroscopic methods. It also indicates the number of other species in your caffeine sample, and you can compare the mobility of your sample to that of purchased pure caffeine to confirm that you're taking the right approach in purification. Another advantage to using TLC is that it can provide a guide for using column chromatography in batch purification.

    Titration could maybe be useful in determining the concentration of caffeine after you've obtained a pure sample, but up to that point, I think it would just be confusing. Since there are probably other species in your sample, you can't assume the effects you see in any titration are due to the presence of caffeine.
  4. Jun 29, 2011 #3


    User Avatar

    Another useful thing to do would be to test the melting point of your sample, and compare to pure caffeine. And be sure to choose appropriate mobile and solvent phases for TLC.
  5. Jun 30, 2011 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    If there are acids present in your coffee, and there always are, you are extracting those as well. They can form salts with caffeine. I would add some sodium carbonate to the coffee and extract that with the hexane. Much purer IMO.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook