How can I extract specific organic components from plants?

  1. I have a list of various organic components I would like to extract from different fruits, vegetables, and plants and get the organic chains as pure as possible. How is that achieved? What science provides insight on the subject? I actually say science, but I'm looking for specific titles (organic chemistry, physical chemistry, etc), so I can look for a book on the subject.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Simon Bridge

    Simon Bridge 14,419
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    With carefully designed tweezers.

    "Organic chemistry" probably ... the exact process depends on the individual chemical and the plant you need to get it from.

    Getting sugar from cane is a bit different from getting it from a beet or an orange - though the principles (mash - boil - filter - dry - repeat) are pretty much the same. Its not really chemistry since no chemical reactions are happening.

    If you want to extract DNA or RNA then that is more difficult.

    If the chemical you want to get hold of has an industrial application, then you may want to look up the industrial process rather than the chemistry.

    Without knowing at least what class of chemicals/components you are talking about, it is impossible to advise you properly - the question is just too vast.
     
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  4. SteamKing

    SteamKing 8,305
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    If you want 'as pure as possible' organic compounds, try a laboratory supply house. DIY projects of this nature will invariably leave you disappointed. The chemicals you get from a supply house will be cheaper and probably purer than you could whip up at home.

    WARNING: This advice applies only to 'organic chemicals' for which it is legal for the average citizen to possess.
    If you are trying to whip up a batch of LSD or psilocybin, move along please.
     
  5. Organic chemistry as well as biochemistry may be applicable here however, as Simon has stated, you will likely find introductions to several methods and the theory involved etc. Depending on what you are attempting to purify and what equipment you have available (a lab versus your kitchen) your particular problem may require anything from a bit of tinkering with a known method for a specific molecule to an impossible undertaking, depending on how pure and in what quantities you want the yield to be.
     
  6. Thanks. I sort of imagined this was going to be vast and complex, but I'll proceed with it. I want to begin by extracting monosaccharides from an apple. If I do it fine, I'll proceed with more complex stuff, like extracting the various iron or magnesium forms from an apple and similar. I want to make my own vitamins (and don't make fun of me).

    :confused: I don't even know what those are.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
  7. Simon Bridge

    Simon Bridge 14,419
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    Someone who does not know what LSD is?!

    Re: monosaccarides -
    Extracting sugar from fruit is an industrial process ... I've already described the basics.

    Re. metals (iron, magnesium etc) ... you'll need to identify the specific compound you want to extract.
    A quick search tells me this is harder than it sounds.
     
  8. DrDu

    DrDu 4,090
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    What is relatively easy is to extract caffeine from tea. Google will show you numerous hits.
     
  9. My chemistry knowledge is very basic. Sorry, but I don't know what it is.
    Thanks, I'll look for it. Maybe I can grab a hint or two that will help me.
    I thought so. :( We are in 21st century. I wish there would be more documents on the subject. I thought about developing some software that would help with simulations, but chemical reactions in an environment with so many components are a world apart from being simple.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
  10. Ygggdrasil

    Ygggdrasil 1,517
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  11. You can extract chlorophyll from green leaves by submerging cuttings in acetone (nail polish remover) for a few minutes. If you have a purple light source (black light or laser) you can observe how the solution will scatter red light only, its a dramatic effect.
     
  12. DrDu

    DrDu 4,090
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    Yes, that's a nice experiment. Note however that the red light is due to fluorescence, not scattering.
    It is also fairly easy to separate the chlorophylls and carotinoids using paper chromatography.
     
  13. Sorry to bump this to the top again, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who have kept posting and if you know more experiments or papers I welcome all of them. I really want to get this done and they all help me gather the experience and techniques.
     
  14. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

    If he doesn't know what LSD is, how can you expect him to have a blacklight? :tongue2:
     
  15. *sarcastic haha*. Very funny. Initiating fake laugh sequence....
     
  16. SteamKing

    SteamKing 8,305
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    Seriously, you should be careful around certain chemicals, which is why we don't like to encourage people who have little chemical knowledge from carrying out experiments.

    The post by mishima about about using acetone is a case in point. Acetone is very flammable and should be used with the utmost caution. You should be careful about handling and disposing of chemicals, especially if they come in contact with sources of fuel, like paper or rags. Discarded rags soaked in acetone have been known to combust spontaneously.
     
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  17. DrDu

    DrDu 4,090
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    We? Is that a pluralis majestatis? I don't see how you should get experience in working with chemicals without doing experiments. Of course you should be careful, but as long as you don't start to experiment with dimethylmercury, the dangers are certainly lower than e.g. mountain biking.
     
  18. Simon Bridge

    Simon Bridge 14,419
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    ... by doing experiments under supervision of course... preferably after obtaining more more than the "little" knowledge of chemistry.

    Thus care needed to understand the chemicals being used - I think acetone usually comes with "flammable" warning decals.
     
  19. I will be very careful, I promise. Thanks for the concern. Now that you mention fire, humidity where I live is over 90% every day and it rains every day. A fire here wouldn't last very long. I'm not saying I will be uncareful because of that, its just a side comment.
    I will make sure I understand them very well. As well as to have someone with knowledge (a chemical engineer I know) watching me.
     
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