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Author: Subject: Real sassafras oil from roots!
chemist1243
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[*] posted on 19-10-2020 at 11:26
Real sassafras oil from roots!


Back story:

I live in sort of a rural area with lots of forest in eastern North America. The sassafras tree is fairly rare and isn’t as abundant as maple or oak, but every once in a while there are sweet spots with many many sassafras trees clustered together. My property has one of these sweet spots centered around a small swamp, in which i counted 50 or so saplings and mature sassafras trees before i stopped counting, and there are many more than that.



I seized the opportunity and delicately extracted an entire tree using a large tractor with a bucket, giving me access to the entire root system of that tree but sadly also killing it. I cover the dirt back up and managed to preserve all the surrounding sassafras trees.

In total I was able to fill a little over a 5 gallon bucket with soft fleshy and fragrant rootbark, which was very oily. I broke up the root bark with my hands over around 2 hours to get a lot of half inch bits of rootbark, which i washed and removed all the twigs and dirt from in a strainer.

Through much trial and error, i developed an extraction method that gave good yields and didn’t require anything like passing steam through an elavated flask or using a pot still, although pot stills make this whole thing much more easy.

Procedure:

Sassafras rootbark is added to a blender along with an equal amount of tap water. The mixture is blended to get a thick dark brown slushy. This is added to 1 liter flask and set up for simple distillation using and oil bath coupled with tin foil insulation to maintain the right temperature. At a little over 96C hydrosol along with little drops of sassafras oil started coming over.

You could visibly see the oil droplets slide down the condenser, it was enchanting!

Now the hard part. See, hydrosol, or at least sassafras hydrosol, isn’t easy to separate from sassafras oil. First I tried using a seperatory funnel like The poor mans chemist, but that didn’t work because oil droplets would float on top of the hydrosol and stick to the sides of the funnel. I cant expect anyone to go out and buy a centrifuge so that was off the table too, however if you have one then use it becuase it works quite well apparently.

You must use a syringe. You simply load up hydrosol/oil into a syringe. Tilt it upside down with the spout facing upwards and let the oil settle out to the bottom. Then squirt off the upper water layer(yes, you will get a little wet) until you are left with only the oil. Perfecto, Now squirt the oil into a bottle. Do this until you have at least 30ml.

Drying:

This step is optional but preferred. The one disadvantage is that you will lose some of your oil however if you managed to get 100ml+ quantities of oil this step will be of benefit, but skip it if you don’t mind a few water droplets floating around your oil. Simply swirl around the sassafras oil with some dry magnesium sulfate and then decant the dried oil into a dry storage container.

I managed to get around 30ml out of a half a kilo of root bark, but you increase the yield when you distill the same root bark 2 or 3 more times to get it all out. Mine is slightly oxidized because its been sitting out since last fall, but it still smells woody and has the classic root-beer/licorice smell, however the woody smell is stronger than the 2 former. I have used about 1.5ml of it to get the stink of DMSO out of my lab and it worked okay, but I’m sure its got loads of other things its good for. If you smoke cigarettes then try smearing a bit on one and see if you like it, it gives something like a menthol kick but dont over do it, I’m sure the combustion products are worse or just as bad as tobacco.

I’m posting this because i know its pretty much damn near impossible to get it any other way, and this method is the least labor intensive out of the ones Ive tried. If you have a pot still then use it because you’ll be able to fit a lot more slurry in one than you would a flask.

Enjoy :D



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Cou
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[*] posted on 19-10-2020 at 11:28


epic x)



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Chemorg42
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[*] posted on 19-10-2020 at 12:25


Interesting, if it is this difficult to extract, how do the large illegal operations obtain it?



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I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics. (Richard Feynman)
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Corrosive Joeseph
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[*] posted on 19-10-2020 at 12:31


They don't....



/CJ




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[*] posted on 19-10-2020 at 13:00


Come to the dark side..........

Sassy is endemic where I live too.




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[*] posted on 19-10-2020 at 13:44


Quote: Originally posted by Chemorg42  
Interesting, if it is this difficult to extract, how do the large illegal operations obtain it?

https://www.alltreatment.com/destruction-of-the-sassafras-tr...
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chemist1243
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[*] posted on 19-10-2020 at 14:41


Quote: Originally posted by Chemorg42  
Interesting, if it is this difficult to extract, how do the large illegal operations obtain it?


Simple: hide
Apparently its done on a mass scale using a larger more safrole rich tree. They use the cover of the jungle to hide large 1000+ liter welded metal distillation apparatus to steam distill out safrole from the wood chips. here’s an interesting video on it:

https://youtu.be/lASLSC5L_yw
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[*] posted on 19-10-2020 at 15:02


Quote: Originally posted by chemist1243  
Back story:

i bought some on internet without issue.

smell is very pleasant, powered with a strong aroma of borderline subversion.





I'm French so excuse my language
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[*] posted on 19-10-2020 at 15:32


Camphora genus trees. Endangered. There are enough {i}Sassafras Albidum trees here if I decide to scratch that itch.



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chemist1243
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[*] posted on 19-10-2020 at 15:46


Quote: Originally posted by brubei  


i bought some on internet without issue.



Have you measured the density of the oil you bought?
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zed
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[*] posted on 19-10-2020 at 19:04


Oh, I don't think it is illegal to steam distill sassafras roots.

But, I will say this. Do it fresh. Saffrol is pretty volatile. Year old bark, will have lost a lot of its oil content.

Sassafrass root bark isn't the most common source of Saffrol.

More commonly, derived from Camphor wood.

A few years back, such trees were abundant in Florida and Southern California.

Considered a pest species.

A lot easier to just buy a bottle full of the oil. But, I've been told, that isn't so simple anymore.
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[*] posted on 20-10-2020 at 01:04


There is a more environmentally friendly source of safrole.
The plant Piper Auritum, also called Hoja Santa and the rootbeer plant is a very fast growing plant with huge leaves.
The essential oil can be collected by steam distillation and is mostly safrole.
I have a few of this plant and it really smells strongly of licorice.
The fast growing and large leaves of this plant makes it a very good alternative to destroying the rare Sassafras trees.

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[*] posted on 20-10-2020 at 01:13


Quote: Originally posted by chemist1243  
Have you measured the density of the oil you bought?
nope

i can do TLC to compare with OP.




I'm French so excuse my language
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[*] posted on 20-10-2020 at 05:11


There are much sassafras oil circulating that arent the real sassafras safrole rich oil.
Since FDA has classed Safrole as an possible cancerogen its banned from all food and drinks where it was commonly used before the ban.
So many "replacements" have been made not only to scam people from the real oil but as a substitute for it in food and drinks.
Since sassafras oil is so expensive there probably are many who would sell substitutes as real sassafras oil so i would try to test any oil bought to verify it.
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[*] posted on 20-10-2020 at 10:31



Purchased saffarfas oil over the counter from a chemist that ordered it for me about 30 years ago. It wassent saffaras, something else.
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[*] posted on 20-10-2020 at 12:49


Quote: Originally posted by Mateo_swe  
There are much sassafras oil circulating that arent the real sassafras safrole rich oil.
Since FDA has classed Safrole as an possible cancerogen its banned from all food and drinks where it was commonly used before the ban.
So many "replacements" have been made not only to scam people from the real oil but as a substitute for it in food and drinks.
Since sassafras oil is so expensive there probably are many who would sell substitutes as real sassafras oil so i would try to test any oil bought to verify it.
Interesting. i would check mine with tlc and some reagent.

I think i have some handbook for plant tlc.




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brubei
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[*] posted on 20-10-2020 at 13:05


here is reference work
Plant drug analysis, 2nd (Springer)

Attachment: oil.pdf (238kB)
This file has been downloaded 32 times





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chemist1243
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[*] posted on 20-10-2020 at 13:38


Do TLC on your oil, see what comes up. Depending on how many years ago you bought it, its likely a fake.
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[*] posted on 20-10-2020 at 13:59


The hydrosol isn't worth to go after, I know that as one of ours extracted ten kilo of roots(whole roots, chipped), with the result being 240ml of safrole(forgot the amount of the natural oil, but read the report for yourself if you're interested in this.
Its called "an oldie but goodie - xxx goes from roots to crystals" in the publication section next door.

Also, I hope it wasn't mum's blender you used for shredding the plant material :D
You are planning on doing what with the oil? isolating the main compound is obviously one of the ideas driving your motivation for this project ;)

I would be interested how much of the oil turns out to be your desired compound.
As the 240ml above, of twenty times as much material, were after vacuum fractionation and the desired substances even already distilled twice in vacuo, and thats all what he got out.
So thats just eight times your products volume, made from twenty times of what your substrate weighed.
Although yours sounds like it was superior bark mostly and not whole chipped roots.

Besides this, nice and interesting piece of work.
You really should take a look into the mentioned thread, and all the other pieces of work from the same person(actually his neighbor), they all start with the isolation of ethereal oils and how to process each of them to the respective final product.
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[*] posted on 20-10-2020 at 16:01


Here in the Central United States, sassafras is anything but rare/endangered. They grow like weeds. True Sassafras Albidium

*edit* SOUTH Central US

[Edited on 10-21-2020 by arkoma]




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[*] posted on 20-10-2020 at 17:42


Anywhere fairly-well drained and especially at the edge of a forest and in clearings is fair game for them in Kentucky. The little clonal groups they tend to form are especially easy to see this this time of year, bright scarlet or rust-colored foliage. I never miss the opportunity to tear off a leaf passing by, they have their own delicious smell!
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[*] posted on 20-10-2020 at 17:44


Quote: Originally posted by Chemorg42  
Interesting, if it is this difficult to extract, how do the large illegal operations obtain it?

One documentary showed ppl in Asia cutting carfulls of sometrees roots
out illegally which then gets processed and sent to Vancouver Canada.
Apparently tonnes of oil get sent there from Asia
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[*] posted on 20-10-2020 at 18:02


Quote: Originally posted by karlos³  
The hydrosol isn't worth to go after, I know that as one of ours extracted ten kilo of roots(whole roots, chipped), with the result being 240ml of safrole(forgot the amount of the natural oil, but read the report for yourself if you're interested in this.
Its called "an oldie but goodie - xxx goes from roots to crystals" in the publication section next door.

Also, I hope it wasn't mum's blender you used for shredding the plant material :D
You are planning on doing what with the oil? isolating the main compound is obviously one of the ideas driving your motivation for this project ;)

I would be interested how much of the oil turns out to be your desired compound.
As the 240ml above, of twenty times as much material, were after vacuum fractionation and the desired substances even already distilled twice in vacuo, and thats all what he got out.
So thats just eight times your products volume, made from twenty times of what your substrate weighed.
Although yours sounds like it was superior bark mostly and not whole chipped roots.

Besides this, nice and interesting piece of work.
You really should take a look into the mentioned thread, and all the other pieces of work from the same person(actually his neighbor), they all start with the isolation of ethereal oils and how to process each of them to the respective final product.


Yes, I’ve read all about the thread you mention. It was partly my inspiration for the project. Right now I’m processing some root bark to determine the oil content of the roots I’m using so i can get an estimate on how much fresh root bark is needed to get the amount of oil i to do any further processing ;)

Ill update with picture in a few minutes to show you some of the things I’ve been talking about. Hang tight.
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[*] posted on 20-10-2020 at 18:50


Update: a few pics of the process

In one of the pics you see a flask with tin foil and part of the distillation head attached. This is the insulation that i find works well for this project. In another photo you see a 500ml beaker with brown stuff in it, this is the root bark sludge. The last photo i posted is an opaque liquid sitting in a beaker. If you look close, you can see a few globules of oil scattered around. This is sassafras oil, and I’m gonna take a guess and say that it’s at least 60% safrole, however I’ve heard people say that they have distilled oil from North American trees as low as 50%.

Like i said in another one of my posts, ill have and update with the essential oil content of the root bark i used(125g of fleshy soft root bark).

If you are actually planning on doing this, here’s a few quirks you may run into:

1: if the sludge doesnt pour into the neck of a 24/40 flask without spillage, cut off the top of one of those flimsy water bottles and use it as a funnel. Glass funnels can’t be used because their stem is too thin. Same thing with most kitchen funnels. This improv funnel wont fit all the way but it’ll fit just enough to not have any leakage.

2: “the oil bath stinks and the hydrosol/oil doesn’t smell like the roots or like sassafras at all”. First of all, if your oil bath stinks, the oil could be burning, and also when using peanut or vegetable oil it stinks like that anyways, so just turn the fan or fume hood on and suck it up. Dont worry about the smell of anything until you’ve separated the sassafras oil and dried it. If you Let it sit for a few days the smell becomes much more strong than when it was first dried and collected. Like karlos said, the hydrosol it useless, although in my personal experience i find that after leaving it to sit for a few days it did clear up a bit and i got a few tiny globs of oil at the bottom. Not enough to matter, though.

3: “how do i tell if what i have is root bark or inner root?”. Root bark from a freshly killed tree peels away from the rest of the root like an orange, leaving a slightly slimy layer where the root bark used to be. The root bark can always be broken by the hands when at room temperature, however the root cannot, its fibrous and tough and can give splinters just like wood from the trunk, although the root is still very fragrant and can be used for tea and whatnot. Just make sure to not use it for this procedure. If you do you’ll end up getting no useful amount of oil. Besides, root bark is easier to break up. Now, if you wanna bring in a 500 liter liter pot still you welded from say, a cut in half propane tank, sheet metal, and some piping, then go get yourself a wood chipper and process the roots and the rootbark, thats how its done nowadays for all the people looking to have some real fun ;)


And most importantly: dont get caught in the idea of making a whole boat load of sassafras oil. This is for someone who doesnt really have the space, skills, time, or money to build a proper multiple hundred liter distillation tank, but who may have a little forest to play around in - like me.

I have conceived this prep in my mind since the day i realized how hard it is to find legit oil. Now i can get all i need using minimal equipment. Maybe i did have that tractor, but I’ve also used a hatchet and shovel and that’s worked okay, too, so dont be discouraged.

Once you have the sassafras oil, go find one of the various archived guides on how to refine it into pure safrole. Once you do that, then the chemistry really starts. :D

Or you could, y’know, use it in perfume or something. Not my type of fun, but its yours to do whatever you want with.








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[*] posted on 21-10-2020 at 03:59


Well, folks may be poaching trees out in the wild. But, it is a minor percentage of world use.

I would imagine most of the world's output goes to make insecticides, or Heliotropin.

The Heliotropin, can be used as a scent, to make ice cream, or in the synthesis of the ever popular Cialis.

I'm thinking that the world's output of Cialis, is greater than its output of X.

[Edited on 21-10-2020 by zed]
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