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Extraction and purification of legal substances for diy educational purposes

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Posts: 153


Jun 4 11 5:11 AM

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This forum reminds me of what people call the Biohacking movement which gets me excited!: Biohacking: Where DIYers(Do-It-Yourselfers) learn science for fun and and pursue the discovery of knowledge. I have been taking chemistry courses in school and already have a far reach in understanding organic nomenclature, solubility, redox, distillation, filtration etc... I do not have a complete understanding of chemical mechanisms but am learning carefully and diligently everyday. I had a long conversation about Biohacking and how it may change the world with SWIM on a bus traveling. SWIM told me he wanted to have a list of things to experiment with and learn about herbs, organic chemistry, medicine, and only legal substances for self knowledge. SWIM is fairly versed in chemistry and was curious if anyone could point SWIM in the right direction. SWIM wants to have some simple, yet "information-worthy" extraction and purification techniques/skills which may aid SWIM in search of more abstract knowledge. Thus, SWIM has added to the list of theorhetical methodology these techniques to learn more organic/herbal chemistry:

1.) Distillation of Water
2.) Alkaloid extraction of coffee and tea, to test for caffeine content
3.) Distillation of Coffee with double blind taste tests
3.) Use of ethanol for tinctures
4.) Use of vegetable glycerine for tinctures
5.) Extraction of nicotine for DIY e-cigarettes
6.) Kratom extraction/purification
7.) Preparation of biodiesel
8.) Fermentation

Anybody have anymore ideas to add to this list of experiments to do to learn more about herbs and chemistry?, brainstorming would be incredibly appreciated! What other legal alkaloids/chemicals can a DIYer extract and/or purify? Another question would be, What experiment did you encounter for you learn something about biochemistry/herbology/science that applies to the topics on this forum that you could share with us? The caffeine in coffee is a classic organic chemistry example, and the solvents are easily accessible for simple crude experimentation.

Thanks and much love!!

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Jun 6 11 7:44 PM

Thanks, vnc, you've inspired my friend to step up his game in terms of learning more about chemistry.
He's all for the DIY ethic and will definitely read up on the Biohacking movement.
Your list looks great.  He wishes he had more ideas to offer in addition, but he can offer one or two.

The first experiment that really amazed him was a food safe full spectrum alkaloid extraction.
Being able to yield a clean product with vegetable oil, vinegar, baking soda and IPA was exhilarating
Note: the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) must be baked first to yield sodium carbonate.
One can certainly buy washing soda (or food grade sodium bicarb) but these materials really are
things that most people would probably have already in their home.

Though instead of extracting straight from whole material he extracted from a reduced brew.
 The process is extremely quick and easy this way (post-brewing).
Maybe I'll post a description of how he modified the tek, but I don't want to hijack this thread.  
EDIT: Tek link removed (in keeping with the title of this thread). PM me for link/info.
As vnc noted it's just an A/B extraction, but with safer, more common materials.

One idea regarding your list is that as long as you are working with coffee
you might try to separate caffeine from the other alkaloids to see their effects.
 Not sure what the various alkaloid losses are in the decaffeination process, 
but an extraction of decaf coffee might be an idea to test this
(though it usually still contains some caffeine).

Good luck with the experimentation!

Last Edited By: NeonGolden Jun 8 11 1:24 AM. Edited 2 times.

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Posts: 153

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Jun 7 11 8:16 PM

In my country, with that material, you are proposing a grey area in law, so that idea cannot and will not be approached. Grey areas should be avoided. Everything must be 100% legal. What you are generally proposing is an acid-base extraction which is how caffeine is extracted. SWIM I'm sure was thinking skills and tools that could be learned objectively instead of the alteration of consciousness that this forum tends to stray towards. Good that your ideas are food-grade though as sustainability and safety are the #1 priorities. I have a couple more ideas that are legal and skill/tool oriented anymore should be tacked on for a more complete list!:

1.) Extracting oxalic acid from rhubarb, chickweed, other high-oxalic plants? (To create kidney stone in vitro!?)
2.) Extracting chlorophyll (to put in veggie caps?) what else can one do with chlorophyll?
3.) Depolymerization of scrap plastic in solvents to create wanted plastic shapes out of pre-made molds?? I don't fully understand this but I've heard it can be sustainable, its like 3D printing before 3D printing, pouring into molds
4.) Soap making
5.) Canning/Pickling
6.) Titrating solutions
7.) Extracting dyes from flora/fauna- test the changes due to acidity or basicity
8.) Extraction of anthocyanins for crude pH tests

Any other ideas? in the realm of legal and informative will be appreciated and acknowledged :)

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