Extracting (almost Pure) Caffeine From Caffeine Pills.

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Introduction: Extracting (almost Pure) Caffeine From Caffeine Pills.

DON'T DO THIS IF YOU ARE NOT 100% SURE THAT THE SOLVENT YOUR USING EVAPORATES COMPLETELY LEAVING NO TOXIC RESIDUE!

ALSO, CAFFEINE IS TOXIC IN HIGH DOSES. (SEE COMMENTS FOR DETAILS)

So let's say you want to make caffeinated muffins, caffeinated peanut butter, or even caffeinated Chap Stick. That means you're going to need some caffeine. Sadly, pure caffeine isn't something you can just buy at your corner store but you can, however, but caffeine pills. In this Instructable I'll be using Maximum Strength NoDoz. The bottle states that each pill contains 200 mg. of caffeine so it will be perfect for this process.

Some may ask "Why not just crush up the pills and use as is?”
If you have ever tasted a caffeine pill (or any solid pill for that matter), you’d know why. The taste is unpleasant and it carries through to the flavor of the food.

With this process, it allows us to do away with the parts of the pill that we don’t want to deal with.

Inactive Ingredients:
Benzoic Acid, Corn Starch,FD&C; Blue 1,
Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Microcrystalline Cellulose,
Mineral Oil, Polysorbate 20, Povidone, Propylene Glycol,
Simethicone Emulsion, Sorbitan Monolaurate, Stearic Acid,
Sucrose, Titanium Dioxide.

Since we will be using denatured alcohol as our solvent, we have to analyze these substances to see what else will be dissolved. By searching through the MSDS records, I have that list here.

Soluble in Ethanol or Methanol:
Caffeine, Benzoic Acid, FD&C; Blue 1, Povidone.

Some of these are soluble in Methanol but since the solvent is > 4% Methanol their concentrations in the solution will be low (their concentrations are already low and shouldn’t be enough to effect taste). This is true except for caffeine which is soluble in alcohol and will be in high concentration (just like we want).

Having that been said, lets start with the parts list.

Step 1: Parts List

Parts:

A clean pane of glass.
This will be your working surface.

Caffeine Pills
I used NoDoz but any should work.

A mortar and pestle.
Used for crushing pills but any crushing mechanism should be fine.

Eye dropper.
You could use a pipette or straw.

A solvent.
Use 100% alcohol because caffeine dissolves in alcohol.

A lamp.
To see

A razer.
For scraping crystals off of the pane of glass. Key Lime not necessary.

Make sure you're in a well ventilated area.

Step 2: Crush the Pills

Crush the desired amount of pills how ever you intend to.

Grind into fine powder.

Leave no clump uncrushed.

Step 3: Dissolve the Caffeine

Pour in some alcohol and mix.

Allow the mixture to settle into 2 layers.

Wait until the alcohol layer becomes clear.

After it settles suck up the clear solution with the eye dropper and pour it onto the pane of glass.

The solvent will evaporate leaving a layer of caffeine crystals.

Continue adding the solution and drying until you run out of clear solution.

Then add more alcohol and repeat this step until you feel that there is no more caffeine in the undissolved bottom layer.

Step 4: Scrape Off the Crystals

Push the sharp side of the razer flat on the glass and scrape the crystals into a pile.
(like you see those coked up people do with mirrors on cable tv)

Put the crystals in a dry container and save for later.

Step 5: You're Done...

The caffeine can be used for what ever you wish.
It will still have a bitter taste but a lot less than if you had not done this.


This method can be used for many different substance extractions.

There is another way to extract caffeine by heating it until it sublimes and condensing it after it evaporates.

I've done it for acetone peroxide dissolved in acetone (it is not recommended because it is very friction sensitive so you have to keep it slightly "wet" as to not trigger an explosion).

Furthermore, if you re-dissolve the caffeine and repeat the process leaving the undissolved layer on the bottom, you can further purify your caffeine.

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    88 Comments

    I tried this for the first time yesterday. Followed all the steps with the appropriate ingredients and let the mix dry in 2 Pyrex dishes over night- from 6pm to 7am.
    This morning instead of been dry crystals it's more like slighty sticky bits of white "caffeine"?
    Is this normal or does the drying process take longer?
    I had a lamp over it all night to assist with warmth if that helps.
    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

    If you are worried about impurties then most of the caffiene from the pills can be extracted with isoproponal alcohol and allow the dissolved material to be filtered. the solution with alcohol (99%) is ultra pure and slowly it will evaporate giving you 20 grams of pure caffiene from 100 tablets that have 200 mg of caffiene.

    Hi am wondering if Tetrachloroethylene or DCM could be used to purifiy or extract the caffiene from the pills?

    Let's see... you say use 100% alcohol. According to Sunnyside Corporation (225 Carpenter Ave, Wheeling, IL), the product you are using is: "85.7% Ethyl Alcohol, 3.6% Methyl Alcohol, 1.9% Methyl Isobutyl Ketone, 1.0% Methyl Acetate, and 0.8% Solvent Naphtha (Petroleum) Light Alliphatic" When they say "denatured" they mean "rendered toxic and/or unpalatable" (read: bitter) Aside from neglecting the fact caffeine is probably the most bitter substance you'll encounter in a caffeine tablet, you've also overlooked the chances of introducing something like Bitrex (denatonium benzoate) from a denatured alcohol solvent -- a real concern. This is really a pointless exercise in Meth Lab 101 and should not be considered safe to produce or consume.

    2 replies

    ALL, of those ingredients will evaporate completely. I don't exactly see the problem. If his denatured alcohol contains denatonium benzoate, a quick simple distillation will remove all traces of it.

    "....a quick simple distillation will remove...." Um, I'm really trying to adhere to the "be nice comment policy", here, so I'm going to use like "science" type talk, and statements of reasonably well-accepted fact. No, the entire point of denaturant is to make it Real Hard (technical term) for the average joe to buy cheap-ass alcohol and distill it down easily to drinkable quality, whilst evading taxation. 10ppm of denatonium benzoate is considered "hell, no" undrinkable - and it's pretty tough to get down close to that, let alone below it. KEY POINT: at the minimum, you'd need to reflux it like crazy (or, equivalently, run it a bunch of times, with a helluva lot of lab discipline). And that is almost exactly the definition of "a simple (and/or quick) distillation"..... NOT.

    In parallel: if cheapo drugstore alcohol made a decent lab solvent, with "a quick simple distillation" - a few grillion lab RAs would use that instead of paying for absolute EtOH (a bottle of which I have right here, still anhydrous. If I wanted to distill my own EtOH, t'd actually be cheaper & faster to just throw sugar and Fleischmann's yeast into a bucket, take a break, and then reflux that for a day or two (vs. trying to de-denature bottles of 70% ethyl from CVS...)

    When dealing with commercial solvents, check the label for use of 'Bitterants', chemicals added to make the alcohol taste bad.

    Is it isopropyl? Yes it will work, but careful to evaporate all of it, it is fairly toxic.

    1st off, Wow this instructable is awesome and relitivly easy to do!!
    But 1 problem, denatured alcohol is not really human safe to eat or drink, and i dont have any so um can i use anything els (like somthing around the house, vodka, tequilla, rubbing alcohol :-\?, or idk what lol. When ya msg me back ill go make some, cause i got so many caffine pills i got free (as generous sized samples) in the mail (...a LOT...)

    9 replies

    Thanks. In this process you evaporate the denatured alcohol so you aren't eating or drinking it. the problem with all the alcohols you listed is that they contain water and god knows what. the big tin i got was $6 USD (used it to sanitize my greenhouse) and i still have some left over. BE VERY CAREFUL if you do, do this. make sure your solvent does not leave a residue of any thing toxic or unpleasant. your solvent should be clear. Not purple, green or red.

    :-\.. 72% isopropyl alcohol is 100% deluted down to 72% to my knowlage it doesn't contain anything els (also when it evaporates there is nothing left like a residue). I would be safe on using it but on the side of all rubbing alcohols it says something about if ingested it may cause blindness :-O! so idk if when it evaporates it will still be bad :-\??? got an oppinion on this? Also, is there anything other than denatured alcohol i could use?? cause i really want to do this but cant get denatured alcohol.

    72% is NOT just watered down 100%. It is either normally distilled to 71%, or azeotropically to 91%, then diluted.

    rubbing alcohol is watered down denatured alcohol. the problem is that there is water in it and it will dissolve other parts of the pills as well as the caffeine. i believe someone else said another substance you could dissolve caffeine into. weather it will cause cancer, i cannot say.

    how did you get the sample in the mail?!?! i want some....lol.

    umm. one of the like 7 diff types (the best 1) was by a company called Spike (spike caffine pills) they are HUGE horse pills to, ... seriously there HUGE, so i think i would get a LOT of caffeine off them. go to spike energys website, see if there still giving out samples!

    can I have a link? i couldn't find the spike site.

    Whats next? Meth!!!!!