The process of botanical extraction, drawing specific compounds from raw plant material, can be achieved by many methods. The simplest and most-recognizable form, on a small scale, is when hot water is used to make tea or coffee. In this case, water acts as a solvent to separate key compounds from the raw material. Solvent extraction methods using water or chemical solvents are popular in the botanical extract industry. Still, other methods range from older to newer and from simple to complex. Choosing the right extraction method for a given ingredient or product requires consideration of the characteristics of each available method.
Chemical solvents can be harsh and toxic. Post-extraction purification is an important step to remove solvents or limit solvent residues present in the final extract. Purification is a continually improving step that should be driven by expertise and research and development (R&D) efforts to limit solvent residues and other impurities.
Regulations often restrict types of solvents used and limit solvent residues for safety reasons. FDA, EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) and TGA (Therapeutic Good Administration, Australia) organize solvents into classes of potential toxicity and impose limits on solvent concentrations in final products made for human consumption.
To learn more, check out the full article, “Choosing the Right Extraction Method" in INSIDER’s Plant-Based Ingredients Content Library.