Essential alcohol-based extraction FAQ
Homeopathic extracts and concentrates made using steam distillation or soxhlet-type extractors are often subjected to high temperatures and this can degrade delicate flavours and aromas. The Essential uses vacuum-assist to lower concentration temperatures to minimize thermal degradation, while also providing built-in fine filtration and efficient alcohol recycling to lower cost.
What can I use it for?
Flavours & Aromas – low temperature vacuum extraction preserves the flavours and scents and produces extracts and concentrates that are more true to the plant.Conversely, steam distillation uses heated water to extract these properties at a high temperature, a process that degrades the flavours and scents. Biomass such as frankincense, jasmine, agarwood, cinnamon, lavender, rose, chamomile, ginger.
Homeopathic extracts – often relied upon for anti-inflammatory effect, these can also be anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic and act as a digestive aid. Biomass feedstock can be caraway, pomegranate, turmeric, cardamom, and many more.
Do you provide an Operating Manual and Customer Service?
Yes. A detailed E-Manual is supplied and Customer Service is always only an email, text or phone call away.
What’s the difference between “Extraction”, “Filtration” and “Concentration”?
All of the above are parts of a multi-step process that ends with a final form of extract.
Step 1: Extraction is the first step where the alcohol dissolves the essential oils and target compounds from the biomass. Often, the alcohol and biomass are pre-cooled in a freezer (or with dry ice) to minus 15C or lower, and then mixed to allow the alcohol to dissolve the target compounds. Cold alcohol/biomass is used to minimize the extraction of wax, fats and chlorophyll. This part of the overall process is called the “wash” and there are often two washes per batch of biomass. Primary variables affecting the wash are: alcohol temperature (often between minus 10C and minus 40C); mixing time (often between 30 seconds to 60 minutes); and biomass “texture” (the biomass should be pulled apart by hand – using a blender/grinder is NOT recommended as it will rupture cell walls causing the release of more undesirable fats/lipids/chlorophyll into the extract). Then the mixture is coarse-filtered to remove large particles whereafter the mixture is put back in the freezer to re-cool to cause any waxes and fats to harden and separate, leaving the target compounds dissolved in the alcohol. At this point the extraction part of the process is complete and nothing from the System has been involved. The colour and wax/lipid content of the extract is determined by this step and has nothing to do with the System.
Step 2: Filtration is where the System involvement begins with the unwanted fats, waxes and fine particles being removed using a process called Winterization. Once the coarse-filtered mixture from Step 1 has been subjected to cold freezer temperature for 24 hours the waxes/fats will have hardened and can be filtered out using the System’s Filter Base. A filter paper is positioned on the Filter Base and the Lid is attached – there is a rubber seal that keeps any solution from bypassing the filter. The Lid/Filter Base are mounted on top of the Boiler. The suction hose is attached to the Lid with the open end of the hose placed in the cold to-be-filtered mixture. The vacuum is started and the cold mixture is sucked through the filter in the Filter Base. The fats/waxes and fine particles are captured by the filter and the clarified solution accumulates in the Boiler. The clarified solution may be re-cooled and/or filtered multiple times using various filter media before moving to Step 3.
Step 3: Concentration – the Lid is removed from the Vacuum Base and installed on the Boiler. Vacuum and heat are applied and the boil-off/recovery of the alcohol begins. This boil-off/recovery is where the concentration happens. The boil-off time is dependent on the amount of alcohol in the Boiler – typically the rate is approx. 1hr/gallon. After the alcohol has been boiled-off/recovered, the concentrated extract is retrieved from the boiler for use. At this point there will still be some residual alcohol in the extract and this residual alcohol can stop the extract from hardening. If the desired end result is a hard, “taffy-like” extract/concentrate, the residual alcohol needs to be removed using a process called “purging”.
Step 4: Purging – this is done by applying gentle heat and vacuum over a long period of time. The System’s Boiler and vacuum pump are controlled by timers that automatically apply heat and vacuum at specified intervals over the purge period – often between 8-96 hours.
What can I use the Essential system for?
Essential can be used for extraction and concentration of essential oils and compounds from many types of biomass. Anything that can be dissolved in alcohol can be concentrated and filtered.
Why is this system better than the EtOH Pro by ExtractCraft?
a) No need to set temperature to compensate for altitude;
b) auto-shutdown – set and walk-away safety;
c) built-in, micron-level filter – no need for a separate buchner-type filter apparatus;
d) included purge lid means no optional purge lid is required;
e) large capacity, dual collector jars – means less swapping during concentration. Also minimizes vapour contamination of third-party vacuum pump oil;
f) includes a primary filter and high-walled silicone purging tray;
g) fully-adjustable purge conditions (temp/time) with walk-away, auto shut-off;
h) lower price;
i) highly-discounted upgrade path to a CO2-based extractor.
What types of alcohol can be used?
95-100% ethanol is recommended. 95-100% isopropyl alcohol can also be used. Alcohol purity is important as water will pull out chlorophyll that will cause extracts to become “green”.
Does the system operate under vacuum?
Yes. Operating under vacuum lowers the boiling point of the alcohol, reduces the thermal stress on the extract, and assists recovered alcohol flow through the Condenser.
Does altitude affect the boiling point?
Yes. Because all boiling points naturally decrease as altitude increases, adding vacuum lowers the air pressure and this produces the same affect as increasing altitude, i.e. higher vacuum produces lower boiling points. When boiling alcohol, the boiling temperature of the alcohol cannot be exceeded until all of the alcohol is evaporated. Think of boiling water – water boils at 212F (100C) and no matter how high you set your heat at, the water temperature will not go above 212F when boiling. If you add vacuum, the boiling point will decrease and the boiling temperature will not exceed the lowered boiling point. It works the same way for alcohol. This said, more heat will increase the rate of evaporation and it will take less time to “evaporate-off” a given volume of alcohol. Because of this natural phenomenon there is no need to set temperature for specific altitudes.
Will the Boiler automatically shut off?
Yes. Once the alcohol is boiled off, the rising temperature will trigger an automatic Boiler shut off. Additional protection is provided by a system timer that shuts everything down after an operator-set time period. This said, operators are advised to shut the Boiler down before all of the alcohol is evaporated to minimize extract overheating near the end of the concentration.
How long does the alcohol recovery take?
Alcohol recovery rate is up to ~3 litres per hour.
Can the Extractor hold a gallon of liquid?
Technically yes, however, it is recommended that it never be filled to more than 3/4 gallon (3 litres) to prevent extract from being carried into the Condenser.
How much space does it take?
Minimum size is 2′ X 2′ but we recommend a table that is at least 4′ X 2′ in size.
How long is the warranty?
Do you offer expedited and International shipping?
Yes. Please contact the Company for rates.
Can I return it?
Yes. Within 14 days of receipt, at the buyers expense and subject to a 20% restocking charge. Returns require a Return Merchandise Authorization (“RMA” – contact the Company) and must be sent back completely cleaned, undamaged, in the original packaging and at the buyer’s expense. Any damage will cause an additional re-stocking charge that will be dependent on the damage.
How does the filter work?
The filter is an enclosed vacuum chamber that allows the operator to apply a variety of filtration levels using commonly-available, 185mm filter papers. The filter uses vacuum-assist and a clamped rubber seal prevents any to-be-filtered solution from bypassing the filter.
How does the Purge function work?
The Timers are used to “pulse” heat and maintain vacuum. This keeps the vacuum level as high as possible and the heat as low as desired. The Timers are fully adjustable by the Operator.
Can the purge process run unattended?
Yes. Two timers are provided to control the Boiler heat interval/purge time frame and the other controls the vacuum application during the purge period. Purging can be set to run for extended periods (or days) as desired and the Operator can be absent during the purge.
Do I need a separate vacuum pump?
No. However, while the system’s mini-vacuum pump is sufficient for system operation, there are some benefits to connecting a third-party vacuum pump to the system’s external vacuum port:
a) during the alcohol recovery – the boil temperature can be reduced by higher average vacuum. This adds to the efficiency of the alcohol recovery and also further minimizes potential thermal degradation of the extract;
b) during filtering – the flow rate through the filter can be accelerated by higher vacuum;
c) purging – a more complete purge can be accomplished in a shorter time using higher vacuum.