How Terpenes Are Isolated from The Plant

From the taste of your favorite vegetables and fruits to the beautiful flowers and trees in bloom, terpenes are organic compounds that make up the building blocks of their smell and taste. They are a naturally occurring combination of hydrogen and carbon atoms that play a vital role in the flavors and smells we experience daily.

All terpenes are present in different ratios in plants, resulting in a distinctive aroma for each of them. Scientists have found a way to extract the terpenes from plants and trees that have opened up many uses, from perfumes to everyday things like cosmetics and food additives.

If you are wondering how they are extracted, there are multiple ways to do it, as it depends on the terpene's polarity, size, and volatility. Here, we'll look at some of the most efficient and common ways scientists have come up with for terpenes extraction.

Hydro distillation

Hydro distillation is a technique that has long been used for the extraction process that includes the extraction of essential oils and bioactive compounds from plants. The process is similar for terpenes extraction, and it can be performed in three ways: water distillation water, steam distillation, and direct steam distillation.

Steam distillation is the most common one out of these three, considering the volatile nature of the terpene compound. The plant with the distinctive terpene is put into a small compartment, and then steam is passed through it that takes the terpene with it. The pressure of steam is adjusted with a lot of care depending on the adjustment of terpenes.

The hot steam is then condensed, which creates a mixture of water and terpenes. That makes it easy to extract the compound from the cross by taking out water from the compartment. It is easy for terpenes extraction, but it doesn't work too well on plants with heavier terpenes. For that, other methods are used.

Emission Trapping

As mentioned above, terpenes have high volatility meaning they can evaporate quickly. The process of their extraction needs to be carried out very carefully. Another method used is known as emission trapping. It's used to collect the already-emitted terpenes present in the atmosphere. This research study was carried out by the scientists at the University of Kentucky in which they placed a plant in a gas chamber.

 Airflow was made to enter the room, and then a vacuum was used to suck out the gases from the gas chamber. Those gases collected were then passed through a "tenax resin packed pipette," which trapped the terpenes present in the gas mixture. After repeating the process and changing the pipette every couple of hours, the terpenes were pulled out from the resin. These terpenes could then be used to add fragrance to other things.

Solvent Extraction

You must remember this method of separation from your high school chemistry class. If you don't, let us refresh your memory a bit. A solvent extraction process separates compounds based on their relative solubilities. This method involves using a solvent, which is a fluid that can dissolve another substance in it. In the terpene extraction process, the plant materials are submerged into a solvent that can dissolve the compounds present in the plant.

 The most common solvents used are methanol, hexane, or ethanol. They can dissolve almost anything and are highly evaporable, so the plant material is expected to sit in the solvent for around 1-2 days before terpene separates. After the soaking is done, the plant material is removed, and the solvent is evaporated, which isolates the terpenes from the solution.

Solid Phase Microextraction (SPME)

SPME is an innovative and sensitive solvent-free sample preparation technology. This process is widely used in industries that involve environmental, biological, and pharmaceutical samples, foods and drinks, flavors and fragrances, and product testing.

A considerable advantage of SPME is that it doesn't require any solvents in the extraction process. The terpenes need to be already in gas or liquid form for this process to work. The mixture is placed into a chamber, and fiber is introduced that extracts the terpenes from the liquid or gas in the chamber. To pull the terpene out, the thread is placed in some separating instrument like a chemotherapy chamber.

The compound is then separated and collected for use. SPME is a very effective method for compound extraction. However, the liquid form placed in the chamber may require some agitation before fiver is introduced. The process usually takes a few hours and is commonly used in the industry.

Partitioning Method

The extraction technique that uses two unmixable liquids for reaching equilibrium is known as the partitioning method. As the name suggests, the process involves using a solvent for extraction purposed like the solvent Extraction method.

At the University of Kentucky, Luxington, researchers extracted terpenes from the plant material in a solvent by using a methanol extract of cells and cell culture medium with chloroform. The solvent used is then dissolved, which leaves the terpene particle behind. These particles can be made visible by spraying with reagent and then heated.

As we have seen from this article, multiple methods can be used for terpenes extraction from plants, which can then be used in everyday things from cosmetics to fragrances and food additives. These organic compounds were discovered just a few years ago and are now being used by every consumption-based company for better scents and flavors.

The terpenes extraction process can also be done at home; it's that simple! You can also buy pre isolated low cost terpenes for sale on our site Natures Own Terpenes. We have a vast collection of terpenes that are ready for everyday use.


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